In the last year or so, ‘content marketing’ has become the big buzz-word with regard to increasing audiences online. More and more articles are being written promoting it as some sort of magic wand, and more and more time and effort is being spent by agencies looking to make the most of the latest trend in an ever-evolving industry.
How, though, does ‘content marketing’ related to SEO? Many people see it as a completely different thing, with the more technical side of things (meta, redirects, crawling) being classed as SEO and the blogging and link-building side being seen as content marketing. Indeed, the Guardian published this intriguing article relating to what they saw as the conflict between the two.
Is Content Marketing the Real Future of SEO?
The argument within the article is actually one that genuine SEO agencies have been aware of for a good two or three years now: building genuine links from good content is the way forward, and link spamming will earn a simple kick in the backside from the search algorithms. (The fact that this is worthy of an article in a national paper is indicative of just how far behind the general public is in terms of the search industry: ‘content is king’ has been echoing round the specialist industry sites for three years at least.)
The most interesting point raised is whether or not this content marketing will simply lead to the big brands being further built up at the expense of smaller firms. The logic isn’t hard to see: the bigger firms have a larger budget, so can get the best writers to create content for the websites that have the biggest audience. It’s for that reason that typing in ‘diets’ will lead you straight to the Tesco website dietary section rather than to a local gym, or personal trainer. It’s a brutal environment in a way, but one that is built on removing spam, which makes it pretty hard to argue with.
Will Our Definition of SEO Change?
Where does classic SEO stand in terms of the content marketing beast? Well, the flipside of the argument is that pure content marketing remains an ‘if you build it, they will come’ strategy. For example, it could be hypothetically wonderful, but your site still won’t rank. Hell, why would it? Google hasn’t even been told to associate that key term with that website. Without ANY technical work, you’ll have a website full of masterful blogs that no-one reads. Good for the muse, perhaps, but not so good for your cash flow.
In many ways, the best way to look at the problem is to approach it as you would an old-school marketing campaign: SEO without content is akin to having a great store, but not doing any out-reach to try and attract customers. Sure, your shop is great, but it’s still going to shut down – no-one’s buying anything! Vice versa, pure content marketing is like paying a good few grand on a TV advert for a warehouse that’s got barely anything in. All visitors, and nothing that’s worth them spending their money.
In essence, the product itself should come first. Whether you’re running a shop, offering a service or simply trying to entertain people, you need to make sure people really want it first. Get that right, optimise your website, and then start dropping those content marketing breadcrumbs throughout the murky forest that is modern search.