September 10, 2014
Since the dawn of the Internet, SEO has undergone gigantic transformations. Its evolution has been huge, as it transitioned from just search engine optimization to link building schemes and now sits as a dynamic array of rank increasing strategies. But not all strategies are created equal. Some are mere parlor tricks that come with risk.
If there is one thing a history lesson in Web copywriting has taught us, it’s that content reigns supreme. We’ve gone from the era of “your readers didn’t like it, but they couldn’t avoid it” because Google ranked it to the days of “your readers love it, and Google ranked it because of quality, relevant content.”
In all seriousness: are you still spending money on SEO the smart way, or the old-fashioned way?
The Biggest Change to SEO
“But I need SEO! How else am I supposed to rank on search engines? I have to spend money on it if I expect to compete with the competition.”
Does this sound familiar? Search engine optimization is important. No one is denying it. You need to research keywords and incorporate them. You have to build a few sound links to reflect credibility and authority. Meta tags need to be sorted out. But the truth of the matter is, there’s a better way, and the formula is mind-blowingly simple:
Content Marketing = SEO
If you’re truly serious about long-term SEO, you need to re-focus your efforts and invest in content marketing, or else you’ll risk being left in the dust the next time an algorithm update hits and plummets your already shaky rankings. Does this mean Web page optimization is dead? No.
According to author Carl Weiss at SiteProNews, Web page optimization is still important. But it’s not 1999. On-site optimization only accounts for around 25 percent of your overall ranking score, and if optimization is incorrect, MIA, or irrelevant to the content, search engines will misinterpret or completely ignore your content and slap you with a low (or non-existent) rank.
If on-site optimization is only contributing a small percentage to your overall score, what’s generating the big punch?
What are search engines digging into? Let’s start with this…have you heard of SEM?
SEM vs. SEO
SEM stands for search engine marketing, and it’s much more comprehensive than SEO. Instead of focusing solely on the technical side of optimization, it encompasses your websites plus blog posts, social network posts, PR posts, podcast and video posts, and everything that is a post. According to Weiss, SEM is a tailored methodology made to meet the search content requirements that make high ranking possible.
Where SEO tries to trick the search engine into handing you better rankings, SEM creates your ranking on doing exactly what search engines want. Search engine marketing digs deep into content marketing, which is why it equals SEO and succeeds it.
Content Marketing Is the Smart Investment
Three in every four British brands have planned on investing in content marketing in 2014. According to the 2014 Econsultancy Marketing Budgets Report, approximately 74 percent of surveyed brands are set to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014, making it the single biggest area of increased spending in 2014. Why the shift in investment?
- Google demands content. It’s one of the biggest reasons to invest in content. Google doesn’t want shabby copy. It craves high-quality, fresh, relevant content. If you’re all about ranking, then content is the way to go because it’s what the beast wants. But there’s more reasons to invest than pleasing the great search gods.
- People want quality. Your audience is composed of people who want remarkable content. They’re looking for a reason to start talking, and it’s the resulting conversation that search engines will take note of. Google strives to index results that are as useful as possible. If your content grabs attention, earning recommendations, applause, and shares, then you’re in the sweet spot. Your content is creating SEO while pleasing your audience. It’s like a two for the price of one sale.
- Content beats ads. Unless it’s the Super Bowl, the general population avidly avoids ads. Customers seek out content. Their goal is to learn. They want to make informed decisions based on facts and research. Gone are the days of spoon-feeding potential customers via advertisements. They have been replaced by a generation in hot pursuit of knowledge.
- Engagement leads to conversion. The strategy of content marketing is to engage the audience at every stage, leading them to the buying process where they will continue to be engaged. It’s not all about inbound marketing, which heavily focuses on initial brand awareness. Content hands you the unique ability to nurture leads, gain conversion, and ensure retention.
- Content builds customer loyalty. Publishing content on a regular basis can improve your customer service. In fact, it can build customer loyalty. There’s more to business than just conversion. After the sale, you can build valuable customer loyalty by publishing copy that helps your customers get the most out of your product or service. Not only does it nurture loyalty and promote retention, but it also displays your credibility and secures your reputation.
- Content makes a stronger ROI. According to The Drum, a study conducted in the United States by Kapost and Eloqua found that content marketing is more than three times as effective as paid search strategies. It’s an investment that shows measured, positive return.
Positioning Your Business as a Market Leader
Why have we spent money on SEO in the past? For most of us, the answer is simple: we want our business to be a market leader. To achieve this goal, we invest in strategies designed to position our business as a leader. If you’re still allocating a large portion of your budget to SEO, it’s time to revisit your plan.
Content is the new way of optimization. It’s the pure and sure way to gain strong ranking, the kind that won’t waver and crumble when Google releases an algorithm update. Isn’t that worth investing in?
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.