SEO Strategies for Creators & Filmmakers Looking to Flood Google with Links to Legit Content

“We believe there is significant, credible evidence emerging that online piracy is primarily an availability and pricing problem… We would encourage the Government to promote new business models and a free marketplace for legal purchasing of content.”
Iarla Flynn — Head of Public Policy, Google Australia

Focusing on the availability aspect of Flynn’s above diagnosis of the international content piracy problem, it stands to reason that making the legal version of your content more accessible than pirated versions would help you minimise the massive profit losses caused by pre-release content leaks online.

To plagiarise my colleague, Jon Roth:

If someone searches for ‘[your movie] watch online,’ what do they see? Only links to illegal streaming sites?
You need to make sure the first two results pages of any search for your movie are flooded with links to legal ways to consume either full or high quality teaser versions of your content.

In keeping with our team’s mission to keep creative industries sustainable in an age of rampant online distribution, I thought I’d share a few entry-level SEO strategies you could employ, as a content creator, filmmaker, or media distributor, to help you push pirated links of your content past (at least) page two of Google’s search results.

1. Create a pitchlist of 10–20 relevant industry publications and/or influencers, then reach about to them about a feature.

As Rand Fishkin (the singular authority on all things SEO) always says:

Have a great answer to the question, who will amplify this, and why?

To earn high quality links that’ll show up on the first pages of Google’s results when somebody types in some variation on the phrase ‘[your movie] watch online,’ you’ll need to get the attention of those already rated — on a domain-level — by Google, as high quality sources of information.

For extra exposure, offer influencers early access to your content:

  • Use a secure video distribution platform like Screener Copy (you’ll forgive me one shameless plug, right?) to give potential reviewers the exclusive opportunity to view and review (imperceptibly watermarked and blockchain-protected) copies of your feature film, for example.
Secure video distribution software, built with love and blockchain, for creators in film and television.

2. Who on your crew is most influential online? Get them to start writing SEO’d blog posts and posting sh*t hot content to social media, on the regular.

Remember always: the ultimate goal of any SEO effort is to service the needs of whomever might be searching for your movie or video online. (That’s where keyword research comes in handy.)

But: remember, also, always, that search engine ranking factors are complex and mysterious beasts, and whoever takes ownership of creating the promotional content you’ll need to rank on Google will need to keep these complex factors in mind.

Here’s an executive — and extremely high-level — summary of the search engine ranking factors thought by SEO experts to have the most impact on your visibility in 2018:

  • Domain-Level Factors, like how many times the target keyword appears in top-level URLs and subdomains.
  • Page-Level Factors, such as keyword inclusions in title tags and meta descriptions; as well as content quality indicators like keyword density, post length, loading speeds, and mobile optimisation.
  • Site-Level Factors, which primarily deal with concerns around overall site architecture — e.g. having a Contact Us page; using a sitemap or breadcrumb navigation; and including Terms of Service and Privacy Policy pages.
  • Backlink Factors — according to backlinko.com: “The number of referring domains is one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, as you can see from this industry study of 1 million Google Search results.”
  • User Interactions: website key performance indicators (KPIs) like bounce rate, organic CTR for target keywords, direct traffic, repeat visitors, and dwell time metrics all contribute to the “Quality Score” assigned to any content you publish, and will directly impact your ability to flood Google with links to your content.
  • Special Google Algorithm Rules: many of these have to do with Google’s mission to personalise your experience of their product. Sites you visit often will rank higher in your results, and Google will prioritise results from your geographical area, for example.
  • Brand Signals — The most obvious of which would be searches for your title, mentions of your brand on top stories and legitimate social media accounts (see Steps 1 and 2) and an official company LinkedIn page .
  • On- and Off-Site Webspam Factors: These include websites who’ve been served with a Panda Penalty for regularly posting low-quality content; pages with too many pop-ups; and sites with “an unnaturally high amount of unnatural links.”

The good news?

If you’re using Wordpress to blog, you can install a number of handy plugins (like Yoast) to take care of at least 60% of these technicalities for you.

3. Get proactive about social proof to create a content ecosystem built on word-of-mouth referrals.

  • Provide each of the contacts on your pitchlist of publications and influencers with snippets of copy, video, or graphics you think would be of interest to the people who follow them on social media. (See below for a comprehensive list of DIY online tools you can use to create marketing collateral to promote your content.)
  • Similarly, if your content is available on a streaming network like Netflix or Showmax, contact their Content Team about writing a blog post and social media punt or two to promote it.
  • Post any content you produce on either your own or your brand’s Google+ profile. (Yes, really.)

Creators, rejoice: here’s a little listicle of hack-it-yourself growth marketing tools you can use to ideate, generate, and promote your content:

  • Answer the Public, Quora, and Google Suggest for SEO Research
  • Buzzsumo for content, industry, and influencer research
  • Typora, in full-screen mode, for minimalist, distraction-free writing
  • Drag-and-drop graphic design templates from Canva Team or crello to create social media images and motion graphics
  • Buffer for scheduling social media posts
  • Fastory for interactive and conversion-optimised Instagram Stories
  • Promo or Animoto for efficient, optimised video creation in square videos
  • Anchor for creating podcasts
  • Ask Lisa — machine learning for selecting photos and hashtags on Instagram
  • Quuu Promote for promoting quality content to relevant influencers

Did you find this post helpful? Or do you have more questions? Let me know in the comments! :)