Yesterday, Junta 42 announced their latest list of top content marketing focused blogs (Online Marketing Blog came in at #2 in between Copyblogger and PR 2.0) and it reminded me yet again of how important content is for SEO. It used to be when discussing search engine optimization services 5-6 years ago, we’d focus on keyword optimization of content and getting links as independent tactics. Today, it’s a different story.
Of course many of the basics of SEO still apply, such as keyword research, on-page optimization of existing content and solving crawling issues. But attracting links and creating new content are no longer separate tasks. They’re interdependent.
The success formula for content centered link building is simple:
- Establish distribution channels such as blog/RSS, email list, social networks, social content
- Plan content creation with the audience and keywords in mind
- Promote the content socially, via email, RSS or other outbound methods
- Watch the links roll in
It’s also important to monitor interactions with the content being promoted in order to secure additional links either through commenting on blogs or participating in discussions that have been instigated by what you’re promoting.
There’s a lyric from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” that reminds me of the interplay between content and link building. “If you don’t create useful content, you won’t attract any links. How can you attract links if you don’t have content worth linking to?”.
Take the desire for higher search engine rankings and traffic out of the picture and it still makes sense to focus on content that’s good enough to share and to inspire others to link to. Whether you drive traffic to the site from offline marketing programs, paid search advertising or social media promotions, you still have to “deliver the goods” once visitors get to the web site.
At the same time a site is evaluated or “scored” for search engine readiness, the opportunity to create a content promotion program tied into the marketing plan is what gives a web site a competitive advantage for both promotion and link building. Planning, creating and promoting content of particular use and interest to a target audience is a far cry from sprinkling keywords on web pages and submitting to directories.
Companies venturing into the SEO world are in fact, venturing into the content marketing world. It’s the reality of how both search engines and consumers will best respond to web site marketing efforts. Great content is an essential part of effective link building and even more so if you have content distribution channels established.
In other words, creating useful content should be followed by promoting that content to facilitate distribution and awareness. Publishers (MSM, blogs, web site owners, etc) aren’t going to link to content they don’t know about. Seems pretty logical but many online marketers seem to be stuck like a record on “create great content and links will come naturally”. Good luck with that in any competitive category.
Focusing on a success formula that ties new content creation with the advertising/PR/communications that are part of a normal company marketing plan into SEO, social marketing and content distribution channels is a link building win all around: consumers, search engines and the company.