A better question might be how much of SEO is actually content marketing? Another good question would be, how effective is content marketing without SEO, or could you do content marketing without SEO?
The answer to the first question is that modern SEO or SEO in 2016 is largely producing content and marketing it. Of course SEO is more than just that, such as technical SEO, UX, and a variety of search engine friendly promotional methods. Mostly social, this is where the grey can get black very quickly and SEO can become SPAM just as fast.
It is no secret that I’m not a great fan of link building. This comes from watching and working on dozens, if not hundreds of sites since the launch of Penguin and Panda. In my experience that virtually any form of self-built links will have no results or very short lived ones.
There are a few black haters with PBNs (Private Blog Network) littering the SERPs that are the exception that confirms the rule.
Amongst these the not so long ago king of SEO and link building, the guest blog, now consigned to the SEO history bin.
Are links important for SEO? Yes, they are, but not the ones you build, the ones your earn and the “reputation” of your site, your brand or you as an author/publisher are far more important. I’ve put that in double quotes as reputation in SEO, used to mean the number of links in most people’s eyes.
Could you do content marketing without SEO?
“The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable”
You probably can but by the purest definition probably not. There’s the inbound marketing mantra/definition, that I’m not very keen on but in principle means the same thing.
Thi is also related to the notion of earned media or earned attention, in contrast with traditional marketing and paid media.
SEO is what makes your content live and stay alive and come back on Google. However, SEO affects the entire lifetime of your site, not just a few months or a year or two you work with a particular SEO firm.
Is all content on your website content marketing
No, and again going back to the definition above, if content marketing is content that is “unselfish” or of a social and contributory nature, as opposed to “buy now”, sale, sale… type of message; anything in your site that is what I’ve been calling business content, all our clients will be familiar with these from our content creation guidelines.
Business content is any service or product page that have a sales message or intent, these relate to transactional queries where a user wants to purchase something.
That is opposed to what I’ve been calling the informative content, which is content that informs or asserts your knowledge on your subject and is primarily crafted to inform visitors, this would be what fits into the definition of content marketing above. You give something away for free, people will like it and share it and some will eventually come back to check your services or products.
These are also more likely to rank and appear for informative queries, which are the vast majority, 80% according to one article, your site will also more likely rank for and sustain rankings for transactional queries, if you do have informative content as opposed to having just business content or business content with link building.
Are all blog posts content marketing?
This is my favourite, NO! Treating a blog, blog posts or social for that matter, as an extension of your business content is not content marketing, nor is it writing an informative post about x, y or z, with 500 words or more, only to then end it with a “buy this now” or other type of sales message.
If I had a pound for each of these articles I’ve seen, I probably would not need working anymore. I may even have written a few myself.
To summarise content marketing in 2016 affects SEO more than ever and the opposite is also true. Whether these effects are positive or negative, largely depend on the distinction of the above, by keeping it on one hand informative and social instead of “salesy” and promotional and on the other by keeping it outside of the Google SPAM radar.
Pedro specialises in SEO and WordPress, with 15 years in digital including various agencies, academia and running a very successful SEO consultancy since 2010. Pedro his an avid 10K runner and enjoys escaping to the sun, volcanoes and squash.
SEO, paid search and content marketing boutique specialising in long-term strategies.