Content marketing is not SEO, although you can definitely benefit from a content marketing strategy. Have you ever experiened the frustration of creating good content day in and day out and never really ranking? Have you have ever been told that all you have got to do is create great content and SEO will take care of itself? And then you just did it and very little happened? Have you contacted SEO experts looking for advice and got nothing but a preposterous bill? Then you know that content by itself will not satisfy your SEO needs. This is a fact that has become apparent to me over the last year. And it has just been confirmed to me by an SEO expert, David Hood.
In his book: SEO Myths and Half-Truths: Slice through the Veil of Misinformation to Uncover the Secrets to SEO Profits (this is not an affiliated link) he provides a very clear detailed explanation of why it is so. Content marketing is creating content that people like and share. The content is produced with the idea of creating a profitable customer action.
SEO (Search Marketing Optimization) is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. You need to get visibility on search engines before your content can be shared. Such visibility is obtained by following some basic rules that are connected to content but need to be addressed separately.
Content Marketing Can Work Sometimes but It Is Not Enough
Publishing companies produce content as their major product. In this case a content marketing strategy is going to be very effective. Writers, journalists, bloggers need to become proficient in creating shareable content. It is the basic know-how that drives new media. Many different aspects come into play depending on the type of content you produce. It also requires a very deep knowledge of your target audience, their language and their expectations, plus capturing the right moment. Authors are also required to have some basic SEO knowledge so that their content is “SEO friendly” but they are usually not required to be SEO experts.
They rather prefer to master social media because that is their key channel to produce initial engagement and accelerate growth. Yet social media is very short-lived and you need to have a valid SEO strategy to achieve constant growth and accelerate revenue. Doing otherwise bring the author, journalist or publisher into the situation of sharing like mad and gaining nothing. Content marketing includes the idea of regular content publishing and update, which is a very taxing activity. It is naturally a necessity for a publisher, but not for others.
Who Doesn’t Benefit Too Well from Content Marketing
All other types of companies can also benefit from content marketing, but their road to online success usually follows different paths. Indeed content marketing would be one of the slowest and most expensive routes for them, according to David Hood. If creating great content is not your core business, then you would need to hire independent writers working for you. Such content would have to be promoted in the attempt of ranking on Google for the right keywords. While hoping that those keywords will make you sell your product or service. It is an indirect approach that doesn’t work too well. So an average company would choose a different path. And even for a New Media company would need to complement its content marketing with a specific SEO strategy.
The True Full Picture of SEO
Yet what you do with your own content is only part of the picture. Actually there are a lot of “rules” out there on how to create good material that will be ranked well in Google and Bing which are not really very useful. The SEO Myths and Half-Truths clarifies many of them and it is a suggested reading if you want to simply your content marketing efforts. The books is not written in an excellent English, but provides good actionable information. I was glad to read it because it has shave valuable time in my content creation.
The books makes is very clear that the key factors in ranking on Google are:
- Good and thorough keyword research and planning
- Proper site structuring based on the keywords and the content of the site
- Accurately chosen titles and URLs for each page (all other minutia are much less relevant)
- Good content that is written naturally using variations of the keywords (not just repetitions of the same)
- Strong backlinks
- Adequate engagement (people need to stay on the page once they arrive)
- Local SEO if applicable (local store, company, etc.)
The keyword research phase is not just done once at the beginning. It is repeated often as you develop you SEO activity. You need to have many keywords, not just ten or twenty. In my articles Keyword Anaylsis for SEO Competition and SEO the First Step in New Media I describe the importance of it and how to go about it.
Each page follows a specific keyword and the structure of the site is clear and organized. For example having a “cat food” page under the “dog” category in the “pet” section of the site would be a mistake.
Backlinks Are Key and Engagement Are the Real Deal
We all know that creating backlinks is a necessity and it is preferable to work on generating more backlinks rather than generating more content, unless you are a publisher which has to do both continually. Yet the actual trump card, according to David, is engagement. If people stay long enough on your content and they share it widely enough then you will do well in SEO despite of all the mistakes in the other areas. Engagement and sharing will procure backlinks as well so this is where we should concentrate our efforts.