When content marketing became the new SEO, many search marketers suddenly decided it was their duty to start creating content. While their intentions may have been sound, this line of thinking was (and still is, in many cases) hugely misguided. Let me explain why.
There’s a reason writing is left to writers
If there’s one thing a writer hates, it’s the notion that writing and content creation is easy, that anyone can do it. I’m here to tell you now that it’s not, and they can’t. Content creation is difficult and requires a level of skill and technical ability that most overlook. In order to be successful, engaging, persuasive, and all the other things that are required of it, content needs to be carefully planned and created by someone who can inject a little personality or verve, besides being clear and well executed.
In my time I’ve seen my fair share of content disasters. Poor grammar is the very least of it – I’ve seen sales copy that couldn’t sell salt water to a tuna fish. Then there are the amateurish infographics which are more of an embarrassment than a share-worthy presentation of information. The people that should be creating content are those who have the skills and experience to do so: writers, editors, designers, videographers, animators and so forth.
SEOs who think they can, or should, perform all these tasks to the necessary standards are mistaken. It’s not necessarily arrogance that leads to this idea, more perhaps a feeling that in order to do the job properly, they must be able to do everything. But there’s no shame in admitting it’s not your area of expertise – indeed the smart SEOs will gladly leave content creation to the relevant people.
Your time is running out
The other problem with trying to take on content as well as SEO is time limitations. Thus far, I’ve not met any marketers superhuman enough to get their to do list finished at the end of each day, it simply doesn’t work like that.
Taking on content means adding to an already lengthy list of things that need to be taken care of, and the SEO’s speciality lies in ensuring their website is appearing in the search results, not only for the right terms, but also for the most relevant pages. It lies in ensuring the technical background of the site is in place to enable the best possible rankings, in analysing the backlink profile and identifying channels through which content can be distributed. It’s important work, and it shouldn’t be neglected.
The proliferation of articles claiming that SEO is either dead or dying doesn’t help matters. SEOs have found themselves constantly defending their craft, so in some respects it was inevitable that they would try to incorporate content creation into their job spec. This is compounded by a general lack of understanding about the practice among many decision makers. SEO is very hard to quantify, so lots of senior and financial managers prefer to have something concrete, something tangible as proof of their investment. Content, in its various forms, fulfils that need.
The key to harmonious marketing is collaboration. It’s time we were all clear that SEO and content marketing are different practices. Yes, they work alongside one another and complement one another, but they require two very different types of people to ensure that harmony is retained.
By working together, content creators and SEOs can maximise the opportunities for their business and ensure all bases are covered to the highest level. SEOs are still a significant part of the content process: they can inform writers on the nature of the competition’s content, analyse how content is performing, identify gaps that could be filled by a niche idea. But by understanding that it’s not within his remit to see the process through from start to finish, the SEO can play to his strengths and draw on the differing strengths of others to attain the best results.
Results aside, it serves the SEO’s self interest to hand over the responsibility of content creation to others who are better qualified. The demand for content is frequently high, it requires people who can dedicate their full attention to its creation. Transferring the job to a team of professionals frees up time for SEOs to concentrate on making sure the content that is produced gets seen, and means that (Heaven forfend!) their daily to do lists may actually get finished.
Finally, successful collaboration removes any need for SEOs to defend their position. Marketing covers a range of channels that require a number of specialists, and like a well assembled machine, the removal of any one part results in an overall reduction in performance. After all, all the content in the world won’t make the slightest bit of difference if it’s never seen.