Lee Odden

SEOChat on Content Marketing and SEO

#seochatLast night I had the privilege of being the guest on #seochat – a fairly new but very active Twitter Chat that happens on Thursday nights at 8pm CT.  Twitter chats are familiar territory and can be very engaging, especially when they’re as well run as #seochat.  Thanks to @Dan_Patterson for inviting me.  You can read the whole transcript of our discussion on SEO and Content Marketing here.

Besides the host being organized, one of the keys to a successful Twitter Chat is the prep done by the guest. Time goes by insanely fast when 10, 20 or a few hundred people are all tweeting to the same hashtag at the same time. I received questions in advance from Dan and then took the time to construct Twitter friendly replies in a text document including stats and links to supporting resources. Below are my prep notes on the topic of Content Marketing and SEO.

Q1: What are the most effective forms of content marketing?

The answer to “best content marketing” isn’t a silver bullet. However, it does involve personas, storytelling & crafting content designed to meet customer needs. For a pretty good post on developing personas: Developing Personas for Better Social Media Marketing.

The best content marketing has a purpose in mind for a particular audience and an outcome or objective according to customer preferences.  This is somewhat in contrast to a lot of SEO work which tends to focus on optimizing existing content to appear where customers are looking. The good news is that working together, Content Marketing and SEO amplifies effectiveness and becomes a competitive advantage.

Format-wise, effective content marketing tactics might be text or video or interactive or audio or print or more likely a combination according to the point in the buying cycle that the marketer is trying to engage.

Regarding matching content types with touchpoints in the buying cycle, check this post: Customer Life Cycle & Content Marketing.

Q2: After blogging, what’s the next best way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry?

I think there are many ways to do that, but here are 3:

  1. As the name “thought leader” implies, being able to communicate original ideas and take a position on important topics – consistently.
  2. “Act the part”: This isn’t my thing, but I’ve seen many people act is if they were in a thought leader position from day one and their confidence spread and people accepted them according the that behavior. Fortunately and unfortunately, perception is reality.
  3. “Birds of a feather, flock together”: Being on lists along with established thought leaders influences the perception that you belong.

Also, media coverage from relevant industry publications and mentions by other influentials is very effective for building credibility and authority. This assumes the coverage is positive or complimentary of course 🙂

Networking is key. For example: Getting kudos from a keynote speaker in front of a room with a few thousand people is priceless credibility during a conference.

Q3: How has content marketing changed in the last few years? How do you think it’ll change in the next two?

Content marketing as a way to reach customers, especially in the long sales cycles of the B2B space has been around quite a while.  Print newsletters, magazines and even TV and radio have been used as content marketing by brands. For example, P&G pioneered the soap opera. General Mills owns radio stations. American Express owns multiple print magazines.

Joe Pulizzi popularized the idea of “content marketing” a few years ago with his book, “Get Customers Get Content“.  Another fantastic content marketing book is “Content Rules” by Ann Handley and CC Chapman.

Be sure to check the Content Marketing Institute site for great Content Marketing resources. Of course, Online Marketing Blog’s Content Marketing category is pretty good too 🙂

As for the future of Content Marketing, 51% of B2B marketers plan to spend more money on content marketing in 2011 according to a study by CMI. Here’s a link to the full B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budget & Trends report.

Content Marketing as a practice has been adopted by many digital marketers and it’s the glue of both SEO and Social Media. In terms of how content marketing will change: more companies will adopt a position of “brand as publisher”. Companies will increasingly incorporate content publishing within their marketing mix. This will result in far more content than anyone will every be able to consume in a 100 lifetimes, so over-saturation is inevitable.

Content curation will increase in importance since a lot of companies won’t be able to afford to produce as much content as they need to be competitive. It’s also an effective way to serve as a filter to the sheer volume of content being produced. Being a destination news source is an efficient method of creating connections with potential customers and such curation is a key part of content marketing strategy.

Q4: What are the best ways to market content across multiple channels?

A content marketing strategy that leverages a mix of distribution channels is how to extend reach. But the mix has to be relevant to the audiences as well as the influencers that will propagate. Here’s a specific presentation on that: 10 Steps to Better Content Marketing & SEO.  Also, check out the hub and spoke publishing model we practice for ourselves and for our clients:

Q5: How do you keep your content from being ruined by SEO, but still be effective for SEO?

Great content and SEO is art and science – something we aspire to @TopRank.  It takes real talent to create keyword inspired content that resonates with specific customer needs and interests. Optimizing existing content just isn’t in the same league as being able to develop and implement a content marketing strategy in alignment with both keywords and great content.

A must visit resource on learning how to write engaging copy that’s also keyword optimized is this SEO Copywriting online course from Heather Lloyd Martin. One of my Account Managers, Ken Horst took and reviewed that course here.

Thanks again to #seochat for hosting me. There were a flurry of tweets and it was hard to keep up.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Lee, thanks again for taking the time to join the chat last night! I learned a ton about content marketing and rightfully so… you are one of the best! Hope to have you join us on other chats in the future.

  2. Avatar Black Seo Guy says

    Lee this was great..I think it wll be wise for me to tune in next Thursday to get an front roll seat..thanks for sharing..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  3. Hi Lee. You did a great job last night with SEOChat, I know it sure starts to come at you fast in that last 30 minutes. BTW – this is a really good example of re-purposing content. 🙂 See you at OMS.

    • Thanks Arnie – it was great to see you in the chat. I wanted to RT your comment about top line revenue solving biz probs 🙂 but it went by so fast. See you in sunny San Diego!

  4. I really like your hub and spoke image for marketing your social media channels together. I think this is a great strategy for long term marketing success.

  5. I believe content marketing is being tested very intensely right now by various search portals. So many people are spamming directories and blogs that true good content may be all that is left.

  6. Hey Lee,

    Good stuff. You should know that I wrote extensively on your last post here: http://writingfordigital.com/2011/01/16/is-seo-a-dirty-white-lie/. Many of the questions you address in the chat are touched in in my post.

    • Does this mean you are no longer “confused”?

      • Yes, I was confused when I commented on Kristina’s post. But after thinking about it for a couple of days, I got unconfused. Thing is, I think all three of us agree. It’s just a difference in emphasis.

  7. After reading the first question I got to thinking about what you said about… “The best content marketing has a purpose in mind for a particular audience and an outcome or objective according to customer preferences.”

    I LOVE THIS!!! It directly mirrors the mindset I’ve come to believe that… Your “Product” Is An Obstacle To The Customer!

    Your customer doesn’t “want” your product – in fact, it’s an obstacle between them and the results they want.

    People want the result, the outcome, their desire, their problem solved; not work.

    In the instance of weight loss, people don’t want a book or a training or support – they want the weight off of their body.

    Most “experts” think of their product as the grand solution and that it’s gonna help people solve their problems. What the prospect really see is one more thing that they probably won’t do that’s standing between them and what they want.

    When you start embracing the reality that your product is an obstacle, this encourages you to create a much more valuable marketing. As well as a mindset that knows the importance of communicating the value of it differently so that it becomes valuable to others.

    When you run your mouth and say “Buy my book. It’s the ultimate solution to your problem,” you’re communicating that you don’t get it. When you see your product as an obstacle, it forces you to connect their unmet need to your product and invest a lot more time creating marketing that focuses on how the product actually delivers results instead of just information.

    You home in with your writing on how every chapter, every segment, every concept within it, is somehow tied back into delivering them from pain and into pleasure.

    What If Your Customer Hired You?

    If your customer hired you to be a research assistant, what would they assign you to “figure out” and then how would they want you to show it to them?

    In fact, if your customer is buying your product, then they are essentially hiring you and paying you to figure out how to solve their problem – then to show them!

    Experts believe that their knowledge is the solution to their prospects problem. But this isn’t the case. Out in reality, where your customer has to take your knowledge and implement it, it’s totally different for them.

    What if you were hired as a detective to figure out how to get out of $10,000 worth of debt?

    What would you do? Well, you probably wouldn’t start preaching at them. You might go and find out all the different methods there are for getting out of debt. You might come up with samples of them that you could show to the person that hired you. And as a good detective searching for clues, you might go find people who’d gotten out of debt and questioned them to find out how they did it. And then you’d come back and show all of this evidence to the person who hired you to solve their problem.

    You can do this with this product, I hope.

    Connect Everything To A NEED

    When you go to the doctor, you usually go because you have a NEED – something is bothering you, and you want to fix it.

    Your customers are no different. This is why you want to identify and connect every part of your product to a NEED.

    This means you don’t include anything in the marketing of your product or your service or your training, that isn’t directly connected to some need that your prospect has. No shoulds. No stuff that you think they need to learn.

    Most people don’t go to the doctor because they feel good and they want to feel great. If you want to create a product that sells itself, you’ve gotta make sure that when people go searching for it, that everything’s tied back to a need their experiencing at the moment.

    For example: Someone in debt has certain credit cards. They have mail coming and people calling. They have a trashed credit score.

    In our product, we wouldn’t talk about prevention. We wouldn’t talk about saving. We wouldn’t talk about budgets. All you’d focus on with this specific “Get out of debt” product is that, “Getting out of debt”.

    So, you want to make a list of their needs, and then show them the solutions with examples and language that will help them to understand it. This is counter intuitive to how most people think they should create a product. Most experts think they need to tell people what they should know, based on their expert mindset.

    When your product is mirror to their needs, they can see it as a teeny obstacle instead of a huge one. Think of it as looking at as looking at a 472 page ‘Personal Finance’ College Textbook vs. a “7 Step Solution to Eliminating $10,000.00 or Less of Debt”.

    People forget that people, not robots, what drive the interwebz and I’m glad there’s guys like you Lee to remind us of that. Thanks for sharing your SEO wisdom here!

    • Thank you for a very well thought out comment Aaron. You’re a talented writer. I can see ho the idea of “product as barrier” helps a marketer put an emphasis on end benefits vs. features. It’s a perspective shift I like to think of as, “facts tell, stories sell”. Tell stories about successful use, needs being met in your marketing (that’s a lot of what content marketing is) and you’ll better connect with customers.

  8. How effective is content marketing if all everyone is doing is spinning and respinning their contents? It’s a puzzle to me.-Angela GilesSocial Media and Publicity DIVA

    • Is that all content marketers do in your view? I’m pretty sure there are far more marketers creating original content. That mixed with useful repurposing wins.

  9. Avatar Creativewords says

    Hi Lee, great post! well written. I got my doubts cleared on SEO and content marketing. So I see a huge opening for content marketing.The pen is mightier than the sword ….content and SEO is the combination. I learnt a lot from this blog, thanks a ton.