It’s getting harder and harder to get noticed online and most people still turn to SEO to help them rise above the crowd.
But while SEO is useful for attracting Google searchers, a growing proportion of website traffic is now coming via social media recommendations.
Facebook, Twitter and now Google+ are becoming content discovery engines.
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The concept isn’t a new one. Amazon has been suggesting other books we might like for years, while ‘most popular’ post listings continue to sway our reading choices based on the clicks (and perceived wisdom) of the crowd.
But this method of discovering new content is a good thing. With so much content flooding the web, it’s becoming difficult to sort the good stuff from the bad. Good content is out there. But how do you find it? Google searches work best if you know what you’re looking for.
But what if you don’t?
I didn’t know that I’d enjoy the TED video of the robotic bird somebody shared with me on Twitter; or the stunning photos of the last Space Shuttle flight someone linked to on Facebook. I would never have actively searched for these things. Instead, they found their way to me.
Writing on Forbes.com, Timothy B. Lee identifies the fact that finding good content is less about using search and more about listening to (and trusting) what our friends are saying:
“We use a variety of tools – search engines, RSS readers, aggregators like Google News – to help us find the best content on the subjects we care about. And finding good content on the web is increasingly a social process. The 300 people I follow on Twitter have become one of the most important ways I find good content online.”
Lee makes a good point. I can’t remember the last time I opened Google Reader, browsed Google News, Dugg, Reddited, Stumbled or bookmarked a new website.
Instead, I’m now following interesting or intriguing link-trails via tweets, retweets, Facebook Likes and Google Alerts, sifting through shared content, evaluating/vetting new sources and (potentially) adding them to my streams.
I’m letting good content find me.
3 ways to discover good content
Instead of searching for good content, let good content seek you out.
1. Follow relevant people on Twitter
Whatever niche/topic you work in, whatever interest you have, plug yourself into the latest information by following like-minded people on Twitter. Start by following publications that you already read, then dig deeper by tracking the writers who work for them. You usually get more information and insight that way.
2. Follow the followers…
Dig into the profiles of the people you’ve decided to follow to see who they follow. You can often find new websites and blogs this way, info-sources that you might never have found with a wide-angle Google search. Evaluate these new sources and then follow any that look interesting or have recently provided good content.
3. Set up Google Alerts for your keyword(s)
Setting up Google Alerts for key terms, phrases, brands, people and keywords can also expose you to new information and new sources. The downside is that there’s a lot of noise and finding good content is akin to panning for gold. But it’s there if you look hard enough.
What about you? How do you find good content online? Leave us a comment below and tell us how you find the best content on the web?