Content Marketing: For SEO, or Branding?
Contributed by Ron Marcus, ZUZA Marketing Cheerleader
I recently had a conversation with some Internet marketing professionals about the purpose of content marketing – is it to improve SEO for your website or is it to help increase awareness of and trust in your brand by potential customers?
Surprise: it’s both. No less than Google believes the same. Its new search algorithm, called “Hummingbird,” prioritizes overall quality of content over keywords, with a new search box that lets searchers enter actual questions to get results with relevant answers.
In other words, Google wants to help you ensure you’re providing a quality experience for your visitors. Rewarding you with higher rankings for having truly useful content is a great incentive, isn’t it?
Avoid “Content Factory” Thinking
Those marketers who create content purely to have web pages packed with keywords are missing the boat. So are marketers who are pumping out mediocre content and syndicating it to as many other sites as possible in the hopes of getting links back to their own websites.
Before we go further, let’s define “mediocre content.”
Most of the time, it’s unoriginal, hastily created content that’s thin on actual new information or insight. It’s regurgitation simply to get content out the door. It’s not unlike a college student copying a Wikipedia article on a subject (or someone else’s previous term paper) and changing just enough words to make the work seem original before submitting it to the teacher.
This kind of “content factory” thinking can indeed facilitate getting a volume of content created and syndicated quickly. But if it looks just like everyone else’s content, and doesn’t provide real value to readers, then it won’t get you very far, neither in Google’s rankings, nor in terms of actual readership.
Nowadays, if you want to improve SEO, don’t just think in terms of nuts and bolts like backlinks, titles, tags, headers and keywords; nor in terms of sheer volume of content.
Instead, emphasize creating an awesome, valuable experience for your readers. The SEO will follow naturally from this.
And logically, the converse of this is true too.
“Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.”
I forget which of my college marketing instructors gave me this nugget of a quote, but it is sage advice.
A killer marketing campaign for an awful product will get a lot of people to try the product, then return it and tell everyone else how bad it is. Social media only amplifies this effect. In the blink of an eye, citizen reviewers can trash your bad product, with global reach.
The repercussions may not be quite as dire if you pump out mediocre content, but they can still be dramatic.
Let’s say you manage to be really successful in your initial SEO efforts but your website content is poor. You’ll see this reflected in your bounce rate – the rate at which visitors come to your site and quickly leave. Sadly, all that great SEO work you just did to get people to your site will become nothing but an expense, with no return on investment to show for it.
Why drive away visitors with mediocre content? Why not wow them with truly valuable content instead?
Content Marketing for Branding
As we’ve written many times in the ZUZA Marketer’s Blog, content that is truly educational, informative, and even entertaining to your prospects and customers does the following for your brand:
- Establishes your credibility as an expert
- Conveys that you care about people
- Engenders trust – people believe you don’t have an ulterior motive (because, ideally, you don’t)
- Creates a positive impression of your brand
- Puts your brand on the short list of contenders when the prospect is ready to buy the type of product or service you offer
- Encourages repeat visits to your website
- Encourages passing your content on to colleagues and friends, increasing awareness and trust in your brand
- And, of course, increases your SEO
Conclusion: It’s Both
Today, content that is so good that it elevates your brand is also the kind of content that naturally elevates your SEO. Why? Because you’re writing about things people care about, in a way that truly benefits them. You’re answering their questions – the very questions they are entering into the new, “Hummingbird” algorithm-powered Google search box to find answers.
Now, things like keywords, titles, tags, headers and backlinks are still important. But they are only part of the equation. And if you only focus on these things and not on creating truly helpful, meaty content, then Google will rank you lower, and those people who do manage to find your content will not be impressed – not with your content, and crucially, not with your brand.
Content Marketing is such a hot topic these days – both for SEO and for branding, that there are no shortage of ebooks, white papers and articles about it online – all content in their own right (it’s a virtuous circle – even this blog post qualifies as content marketing). To help you get started, here are some great resources, including some straight from the ZUZA Marketer’s Blog:
- Search Engine Land Guide to SEO »
- Internet Marketing Inc.’s “The Ultimate Guide to Results Driven Content Marketing” »
- Copyblogger’s: “Why Google’s New Hummingbird Algorithm is Good News for Serious Content Creators” »
- Content Marketing Institute »
- ZUZA Marketer’s Blog: Articles on content marketing »
Here’s to the Marketing Champion in all of us. See you in the next post.