Is Content Marketing the New SEO

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the practice of optimising web content so it ranks favourably with the search engines, has always be something of a dark art.

I remember sitting in a meeting with some senior executives from Google when the subject of SEO was raised. I won’t name any names – but the words “witch doctors” preceded with a word I cannot repeat on this blog were muttered by one of the search giant’s team to much hilarity in the room.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing SEO companies out there doing fantastic work for their clients, but it would be hard to ignore the fact that the industry has been tarnished by less-reputable firms selling “snake oil” solutions at outrageous prices – often wrapped up in a watertight annual contracts.

Note: Never engage the services of an SEO firm without first checking their references and asking to see evidence of the results they promise.

Changing Best Practices

As search engines (and in particular Google) have become more sophisticated in the way they rank search results, SEO companies are finding it increasingly hard to “game” the system.

Over the years, SEO best practice has changed dramatically as the industry has to constantly play catch-up. Strategies that once drove significant results (like link farming) are now highly detrimental and may even be dangerous to your rankings. As a result, many SEO agencies are now offering solutions to fix the problems their industry initially created.

Consider This: I personally believe Google saved the Internet. Before the search giant come along many of the directories that dominated the web (Yahho, Lycos, Altavista) were plagued with irrelevant and spammy search results (powered by the SEO industry) and highly intrusive banner advertising.  Google stripped the Internet back to basics and, by simply providing relevant and useful results, made the Internet usable again. 

Google Outsmarts Old School SEO

In recent years, Google has becoming so smart, it is able to assess whether a webpage is relevant to an individual user’s requirements based on very human characteristics. It’s not enough to make sure a page is formatted correctly or contains all the relevant keywords a user might search for. Google wants content to be relevant, engaging and timely.  It’s also looking for content to be written for primarily for human consumption. Overstuff your pages with keywords and you’ll stand more chance of being demoted in the rankings.

More Useful, Less Technical

The simplest way to deliver this fresh, engaging, useful and search engine friendly content is via your blog.

A good blog should be regularly updated with content your target audience will find useful. The easiest way to provide “useful” content is to address your audiences’ problems, giving them solutions which will help you raise your profile as experts and convince them that you are the right company to do business with.

Note: Every business should strive to solve problems. A problem could be something complex like what software you should use to run a multi-channel retail business, or it could be something a little simpler (although my wife might disagree) like what shoes to wear on a night out.

The More You Tell…

The more content you publish to your blog, the greater your chances are of it being picked up and favoured by the major search engines. In terms of volume, I like to think of your blog as providing a pulse of your business. Your pulse should be regular, steady and go on for as long as possible.

Recycle and Re-appropriate

The great thing about blog content is that it doesn’t only have to be used once. You blog post can help guide your email marketing and wider content-led strategies (eBooks, whitepapers, webinars, presentations, etc., etc.)

Don’t forget, your blog content will also act as a significant source of fuel for your social media strategy. If you share enough useful, engaging and relevant with your target audience, they will in turn share it with their wider social network. The traffic and revenue generating opportunities this creates should more than justify the effort in creating it.

So who should produce all this content?

In an ideal world, as an expert in the industry you work in, that job should be yours.

If you really haven’t got the time, perhaps you should speak to your SEO agency. If their business hasn’t morphed into more of a content marketing agency in recent years, they really are behind the times and you should consider moving elsewhere.

How do you use content to improve your rankings on the major search engines? Share your comments below:

John W. Hayes is the author of Becoming THE Expert: Enhancing Your Business Reputation through Thought Leadership Marketing (Available on –

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