Has Content marketing been rebranded?
In a previous post, we took a look at some of the more prolific myths around content marketing and helpfully debunked them. We then decided it was worth taking the trouble to go into each myth in a little more detail. The first was that content marketing is simply SEO rebranded.
There are plenty of posts out there that would have us believe that this is the case. Neil Patel posted on Quicksprout in 2012 that, “Content marketing is the cheapest and most effective way to do SEO these days.” Neil Patel was wrong. Because the two, while mutually beneficial, are not the same thing, and because good content marketing doesn’t come cheap.
SEO Keywords or real words?
As we pointed out in our mythbusting post, SEO is about visibility in search results; it’s a discipline that, for some, placed the importance of search engine spiders above that of the end user. Content marketing has never been so short sighted. For creatives, the single most important thing has been providing interesting, engaging and useful content to website visitors, enriching their experience of a brand or product. Sure, content at its most basic, i.e. web copy, will often have the necessary smattering of keywords, plus a relevant meta title and description, but it was never just about getting Google rankings. Luckily for the creatives, Google cottoned on and adjusted its algorithms to reward good content.
What Patel perhaps meant was that content marketing is the best way to achieve natural links and encourage social sharing. The generation of backlinks in content marketing is secondary to the generation of interest and discussion. Good content can elicit an emotion in the reader or viewer, answer a question, or trigger a debate, increasing the likelihood of it finding its way to more viewers across the web. How many times have you seen a discussion in a comments section that extends to twice the length of the original article? The writer of the article may not necessarily agree with the argument she has presented, but has posted with the intention of inducing her readers to consider a subject from a different perspective. A creative would measure the success of such an article by whether an active debate ensues; some links to the post or website is an additional bonus.
To say that content marketing is simply a new term for SEO also undermines the technical aspects of the latter. SEOs worth their salt have never focused on link building without first carrying out all sorts of technical audits and analyses on the website or pages they’re looking to optimise. The practice extends beyond filling in meta data and building links – it’s about ensuring the site architecture is sound, checking there are no barriers that prevent content from being indexed, image sizing and site speed, analysing and comparing data from competitors...I could go on. Content marketers, on the whole, don’t concern themselves with such things; their interest lies in the emotional or educational cues that copy, images, videos or games provide.
The bottom line?
An effective digital marketing strategy will incorporate both content and SEO. Great content, after all, needs optimising in order to be found, discussed and shared. A good marketing manager will not expect their SEO to be able to produce good content or their content marketer to be able to chase rankings. Instead she will recognise that the two require unique skill sets and recruit accordingly. Likewise, businesses should bear the distinction in mind when choosing a marketing agency – any agency that truly knows its discipline will employ creatives to create and marketers to market, and will be open about it.
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