Document Sharing Backlinks – Are They Good Or Bad For SEO?

Nikita Nemykin
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Content sharing, otherwise known as document sharing, has been around for a very long time and it’s forever been the subject of a lengthy and drawn out argument within the SEO community. The one question that plagues this subject has to do with establishing whether or not backlinks from content sharing sites like Scribd, DocShare, Yudu and the rest are actually beneficial and valuable link building strategy?

Ecommerce stores, among a plethora of other verticals are a notoriously “weird” area when it comes to link building. The general consensus among most SEOs is that you should have links that “any normal business would naturally have.” Now, ecommerce stores fall right into that golden sweet spot where just about any type of link is applicable. Whether a local NAP citation to highlight the fact that you’re a real business, guest posts and outreach, document sharing, broken link building – you name it, they all work. But unfortunately, with so many available options, many store owners are left wondering – which ones would produce the best cost to benefit ratio?

While document sharing is by no means a new and revolutionary approach when it comes to Ecommerce SEO, here at ZORA Commerce, we believe that it can be a highly effective way to supercharge your ongoing linkbuilding efforts and exponentially increase your store’s traffic with only a tiny bit of effort that you’d have to put in.

What Is Document Sharing?

Document sharing is a handy approach to getting more out of the content that your brand has already invested time and money (among other resources) to produce. As most of us know – in the SEO world, good user-centric content is branded as being KING.

So being able to re-purpose your existing content, giving it a fresh breath of life is actually a great way to yield more returns on the investment your business has already made.

Re-purposing your content and making sure it's distributed across relevant channels is an essential step in the content marketing lifecycle.

Here are a few things you can do to revitalize old content and put it to work in your next marketing initiative:

  • Turn your blog articles into a PDF document.
  • Create a slideshow that highlights the key points of your article.
  • Make a 30 second video around the slideshow (Tip: you can also get your video voiced over by a professional on Fiverr for around $7 CAD).
  • Create an infographic presenting the key information behind the subject of your article.
  • Record (or get a voiced over) podcast covering the subject of your article.

And these are just a few of the ways that you can take old content, put a spin on it and make it into some serious marketing collateral for your campaigns.

In the end you’re going to end up with that subject being split up between your own on-site articles, PDFs, PowerPoints, Audio Files, Videos and a slew of other media formats.

Document Sharing And Backlinks

Now, let’s add SEO into the mix. Content sharing is a very popular mainstream marketing activity – so naturally, there are a plethora of different websites that allow you to share documents, slideshows, images and other files. 

And back when SEO was in it’s infancy stages and there was very little discrimination on the side of our favourite search engine when it came to backlinks and their quality, relevancy and other important factors.

And as soon as someone realized that PDFs and PowerPoints get indexed in Google, document sharing became probably one of the most logical ways to get great content-rich (contextual) backlinks over to your site.

How is this done? It’s actually very simple – just insert a link, upload and set it to public – done.

However, this is where we hit a snag. Remember? It’s QUALITY over QUANTITY – and by today’s SEO standards, most of these document sharing sites have very little “quality” to offer. Now, we’re not trying to say that document sharing sites produce spammy or otherwise unclean links. But rather – we’re trying to highlight the fact that most of these sites pass off very little (if any) power with the links they shoot out.

You might be thinking – but, they’ve got very high domain metrics, authority and they’re established trusted sites…

And you’re totally right! The profile looks great when it comes to their domains. However, when we look at an individual link going out of a document hosted on such a site we start to notice that the power distribution is very … meager to say the least.

Let’s visualize it with an example: the document sharing site is kind of like a “bowl” that holds a certain amount of water. Now, every single backlink going out of a document on that site is a “hole” in that bowl. Holes = water leaks out. The more holes the bowl has, the more water leaks out and the less water remains in the bowl. 

outbound links everywhere meme

While this isn’t a universal model, the rule of thumb is lower OBL (outbound link) counts produce more power per outbound link. In the case of document sharing websites you’ve got millions, if not tens of millions or even billions of links going out into the web. This means that the average power per link is VERY low in most cases.

Are Links From Content Sharing Sites Bad?

While we definitely don’t recommend making this 100% of your linkbuilding effort – the short answer is nope! Despite the fact that they are very weak links – these sorts of backlinks serve another beneficial two-fold purpose.

  1. Content Sharing sites have a LOT of traffic, in fact Slideshare alone sees some odd 70 Million organic visitors on a MONTHLY basis – this is awesome for us SEOs because it allows us to get our content in front of an en-masse audience and start getting some nice referral traffic. For example, take a look at how the guys over at Traffic Gen Cafe started bringing in just over 243,000 visits from Slideshare in only 30 days!
  2. They provide an amazing opportunity to gain a topically relevant contextual link back to the original content on your site. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor overnight – and in a similar way, while these types of backlinks won’t get you to Facebook levels of domain authority, they will do a lot of good for your off-site profile. The reason behind this is the fact that you’re still getting content-rich links back from topically relevant articles on authoritative sites. These links will get indexed much quicker, with a lot less work – and will provide a nice bit of topical relevance for your site in the eyes of a search engine like Google that puts a lot of weight on the context of a link over it’s raw metrics.

So, in short, while a very large portion of the SEO community discredits these sort of links in favor of other strategies such as making use of the skyscraper technique or running a well-tailored outreach campaign – these links definitely have a place in almost any SEO initiative and can prove to be quite handy. 

The gist is – these sort of links can act as an amazing undercarriage for the more powerful links you’re building. Whether you’re running a white or black hat strategy (or anything in between) – they’ll help make sure that your velocity is in check and that you’re getting a nice and healthy amount of visitation to your site.

So What Does This All Mean For You?

If you’ve followed along this far, then you now have a good idea of what document sharing backlinks are, and how they can do wonders for your SEO campaign, while being lightweight and adding a nice bit of diversity to your link building.

And let’s be honest – as SEOs (and ecommerce store owners) we’re never quite satisfied to the fullest degree with where our marketing initiatives are at. So, how do you implement this as part of your campaign?

If you’re already working with an agency, it’s not hard to ask them to make it a part of their regular linkbuilding efforts.

However, not all ecommerce store owners are able to afford working with an agency outright – and that’s totally A OK! Here at ZORA Commerce, our mission is to make SEO an approachable investment for every ecommerce store owner out there. Whether you’re into DIY or want to start small, we’re happy to offer training and options for every budget.

So, back to the topic at hand – what are the best sites to share your newly repurposed content? Check out the list below for the top sites for each category of files that we’ve talked about so far.

PDF & Document Sharing Sites:

  • Google Drive
  • Issuu
  • Dropbox
  • 4Shared
  • Mediafire
  • One Drive
  • Box
  • Zippyshare
  • Uploaded
  • Sendspace.com
  • Hightail
  • Wetransfer
  • Deposit files
  • Sharesend
  • Wikiupload

PPT (Slideshow) Sharing Sites:

  • Slideshare
  • Slideboom
  • Keepandshare
  • Calameo
  • Zoho
  • Scribd
  • Sliderocket
  • Animoto
  • Ziddu
  • Issuu
  • Crocko
  • BrainShark

Video Sharing Sites:

  • Youtube
  • Vimeo
  • Dailymotion
  • Blip
  • Metacafe
  • Veoh
  • Megavideo
  • Revver

While those are only a handful of the full range of sites available when you’re looking to share and distribute your newly re-purposed content – they should definitely keep you and your marketing team busy for a while.

However, not all ecommerce store owners have a marketing team available at their beck and call, and sometimes they can’t afford to hire an agency to get the work done. If this sounds like your situation – don’t stress out, here at ZORA Commerce we offer very affordable small ecommerce SEO projects and tasks that you can purchase for under $100.

In fact, we offer ecommerce backlink building as a standalone service and you can get started on putting together an amazing backlink profile for only $99.

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