What exactly, is the Issue with ISSUU?

last edit: 9 Dec 2015

We’ve been supporting Auctioneers outreach and growing their internet presence for many years and realise you may have a few technical questions regarding publishing catalogues on content sharing sites, we’ll try and clear them up for you. We’ll focus on Issuu as it is the default choice for most Auctioneers, but the arguments stand for others too.

ISSUU and other sharing platforms.

Photo of an ISSUU front end search for Auctions

ISSUU – search for Auctions

For a moment, think of content sharing platforms as ungrateful mini-gods. Every time you put your content on their altar you’re making a sacrifice, hopeful that you will be rewarded later. For many these sacrifices do not lead to growth. Posting religiously becomes a habit, begun as the result of a casual conversation with an unwitting acolyte; often (like me), a designer. After all, they have the content already and helpfully, can put it on the altar for you.

The deal is to sacrifice indexing of and traffic to your site and any authority building, on the promise that the mini-god will make your content easier to discover. Once sacrificed, it’s too late. Embedding your publication will do little for you; you’ll just create a bubble in a pipe that leads back to the content platform.

Search engines will always refer to your document on issuu.com and not to embeds on your website. This is because the actual content (text, articles, images) are not included in the embed code, and the actual content is always hosted on issuu. – Accessed December 5, 2015. Search engine optimization (SEO) – issuu Help Center.http://help.issuu.com/hc/en-us/articles/204815478-Search-engine-optimization-SEO-

Here’s the issue.

With content on your site and up in the gods, Google may see two versions of the material and make a decision about the right one to show, based on social signals, authority and a whole lot else, including which came first. Well, the mini-gods win and the version on your site does not get shown and often, isn’t indexed.

There’s no penalty for duplicate content being on your site and their site, it’s just that Google made a decision not to show yours; it feels like a penalty.

Here’s your decision.

Issuu has a Google PageRank of 9/10. It’s something we’re proud of and it’s very good news for you too! It basically means that uploading your content to issuu will help you get more exposure, compared to sharing on a website with a lower PageRank.

It’s clear to us that pressure to widen exposure of auctions and find extra distribution drives auctioneers to use these platforms religiously, yet we know from speaking to auctioneers that they’re also viewed as a necessary evil. Internet clicks lead to the platform, and it’s hard to get the clicker back out. Is the exposure worth the sacrifice?

Change sacrifice into fair exchange.

Be realistic about building exposure using content marketing platforms where you have little choice in neighbours, cannot choose the content you are next to, and cannot control ads that display without a premium account. For searches within the platform, the platform’s broad matching shows what it believes the searcher wants to see, but that’s across everything and searches are not as sophisticated as internet queries (a lot of work is going on to present better results based on quality). One might argue vagueness is a benefit if it’s your material on the edge of discovery, but what is the quality of any resultant action likely to be?

We count how many times a document is displayed (i.e. impressions) and how many times a user spends significant time on it in the ISSUU reader (i.e. reads). These statistics are useful for search because we can use them to rank documents that users like (by being read and displayed frequently) higher than other documents (let’s face it: When anybody can upload content, not all content is of equally high quality). – Issuu Accessed December 8, 2015. — How search at Issuu actually works.http://blog.issuu.com/post/41189476451/how-search-at-issuu-actually-works

It is easy to be seduced when reading statistics on any publishing platform, but you need to be particularly circumspect when your own mailshots to your (very large) lists, postings on social media and site embeds are piping every contact you know into the publishing platform. Exactly what percentage of those reading figures are new or community reads? Of course, the shares listed in the statistics for your publication are returning people to the publishing platform. Is that really where you want them?

Connected Catalogues.

Auctioneers Vault Connected Catalogues are a complete replacement for Issuu-type publications, without the restrictions and with superior operation. We’re unapologetic about that. We can’t replace the content sharing platforms’ scale and community, so we make it easier for those who’ve already got religion to get better value from their sacrifice.

Lots of lovely links.

Q: Can PDF files rank highly in the search results? A: Sure! They’ll generally rank similarly to other webpages. For example, at the time of this post … all return PDF documents that manage to rank highly in our search results, thanks to their content and the way they’re embedded and linked from other webpages. Q: Is it considered duplicate content if I have a copy of my pages in both HTML and PDF? A: Whenever possible, we recommend serving a single copy of your content. If this isn’t possible, make sure you indicate your preferred version by, for example, including the preferred URL in your Sitemap or by specifying the canonical version in the HTML or in the HTTP headers of the PDF resource… – Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: PDFs in Google search results Accessed December 5, 2015.http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/pdfs-in-google-search-results.htmlOur philosophy and practice is to help readers move from your publication into your world, by adding hundreds or thousands of direct links from the content you’ve written to describe your lots, right to the information and bidding pages on the auction platforms you’re using.

This isn’t link building to game Google Algorithms, and those links will not drive a flood of traffic to your site; unless you have your own auction platform, the clicks go straight from the catalogue to your saleroom of choice. However, that’s a good thing, every reader is one click from new information about an item, one click from bidding, one click from exposure to your auction platform, your sale. Even after your sale, the links help people find out the realised prices.

Given the sacrifice you’ve made,  we want to hold the reader’s interest and lower the likelihood of them wandering to another publication, unless it’s yours… Which is not the goal of the content sharing platform.

Online publishing platforms are restrictive, so we have an observation specifically for Auctioneers, who’s high value publishing assets have a short active life before archiving: The order that you do things in is significant.

  1. Don’t have your designer put the pdf on Issuu or SlideShare etc. at the earliest opportunity, keep it to yourself.
  2. If possible, wait until your lots are on the saleroom and you have sale links (<48hrs later you’ll have everything).
  3. Commission a connected catalogue, hosted on your site (within the 48 hrs) so you will benefit from indexing and sharing of content.
  4. Promote the connected catalogue ON YOUR SITE through your lists, social media etc. generating click throughs to your properties.
  5. Put your connected pdf into content sharing sites such as SlideShare, LinkedIn etc. and pick up a link or two.
  6. Finally, upload your connected pdf to a paid for Issuu etc. account to maintain your existing base and community discovery.

This creates value from the Auctioneer’s assets outside of the content sharing platforms, then provides a boost for different assets put onto content sharing platforms. For us that’s producing a Connected Catalogue from your material first, then sharing a Connected PDF.

Connected Catalogues maximise opportunities for readers to take action and move from disorganised discovery to definitive decision making, easily. Think of them as a complete replacement for your encumbered Issuu publication, with the ability to do the things you need, that Issuu and other platforms cannot do.

So there you have it.

This post is concerned with minimising damaging effects and dispelling misunderstandings about the roles that content sharing platforms can play. Our experience is that Auctioneers are unnecessarily hampering their own growth and exposure by following common, but incorrect, advice – That’s something we like to fix. 

Follow this advice as your first step to recovering more value, then read and try out some Connected Catalogues →.