Often in the business world, phrases get thrown around and become hot words, but most people don’t truly understand what they are or why they are important. This happens in abundance in the world of SEO, which is already confusing to many business owners. One of those hot terms that everyone has been talking about this year is “Content Marketing”, but what is it and how can it help you? Well, I want to dive into it from an SEO perspective.
Content Marketing Provides Answers to Google Searches
Google is in the business of providing the best result to user searches. Creating great “answers” to those searches is a big part of the drive for content marketing, but just creating content is not the end of the job. Having great content can help differentiate you from other sites, but there are a lot of people making content out there, and if nobody ever finds your content, it won’t do much help. It leads to an incomplete picture of the process that business owners often get confused by and end up with a bad experience.
Often SEO’s will build blog posts into plans to try to feed to business owners that they are doing “content marketing”, but sadly, nobody ever sees any of that content but the writer and the business owner. Your pages have to get found in search for the content to be useful and the content is supposed to be useful for getting your pages found in search, so it becomes a chicken and the egg situation. So how does it work? Why doesn’t writing blog posts just magically make my site show up in Google search?
Links Give Your Content Muscles
When Google began their algorithms to rank one site over another, they couldn’t just base it on content. They had to have some way to give credibility to one site over another if they all had similar answers to the same question. They decided that links were the answer. Links are viewed as a “virtual referral”, telling Google that other sites value your site and your page enough to be willing to send their visitors to that page. The more sites that show Google that vote of confidence for your site, the more respect your site and pages get from the Google algorithm and you will rank better. This is why there are so many links scams out there. If Google gives anything value, industries grow around trying to cheat at that. You need legitimate links from real sites that show Google you are relevant geographically and topically.
If you are a local business targeting a local market, links like chamber memberships or local involvement help Google show that you are locally relevant. Industry related topics or strong news sites also show that you are important to Google. These votes will help push your “answers” up in the rankings, past the hundreds or thousands of other people also trying to provide that best “answer”.
Content + Links + Good UX = Ranking
So if you do have good content, you are ahead of the game, but you still have to combine that with links. That takes good old-fashioned networking, but with an online flavor. Getting that content out there via social shares or relationships with other sites is how you get more people to see that content and potentially link to it. If you can get people to your site via promotion on social or simply by relationships with reputable companies that are willing to show your content to their users, that is how you put the puzzle together. Of course, you have to combine this with the standard user experience pieces like a fast loading page, easy navigation, basic SEO principles, and you have yourself a great tool.
Once you have a good strong site built up over time, you can start creating content with a baseline of strength that can get you ranking just by writing that latest blog post, but it takes a strong SEO strength before that can happen. For example, I can write this blog post about content marketing and start to get rankings for “content marketing” searches in my market, because I have been building relationships and links for years. Once you get going, it begins to snowball, but just creating the content is only one piece of the puzzle.