I expounded on the SEO principle of “Give to Get” in my recent Practical eCommerce article. Sites aspiring to lasting SEO performance have to give value to get value. If the audience doesn’t get value from the content, they will not feel compelled to give value to the site in the form of links, comments, reviews, “likes” and other forms of participation that add uniqueness or popularity to a site.
After completing the article, I started playing devil’s advocate. There are some sites that create content of their own that fare quite well in the search results. These exceptions to the “give value to get value” rule are major sites that have the strength of a massive network of popular sites behind them, or sites who mash syndicated content with user generated content.
Shopping comparison sites and reviews sites are excellent examples of both exceptions. Consider BizRate, which is part of the Scripps Network with Shopzilla, HGTV, Food Network, etc. I’m not suggesting that their only strength lies in their network interlinking, but they certainly do use it to their benefit. Each of the other sites links at least to BizRate, and BizRate links only to Scripps. I’d do the same, of course. My only point is that it does give them a leg up and lessen the need for them to innovate as strongly to provide valuable unique content.
User generated content is another way around the content creation conundrum. Reviews sites are prime examples of this phenomenon. Epinions doesn’t write the product descriptions for the product reviews on its site, it provides a platform to mash syndicated product content with user generated reviews. Of course, as part of the Shopping.com network, Epinions does also benefit from the aforementioned network internlinking value.