Chess by Alejandro Fernandez
Everybody seems to agree with the “content is king” mantra. At the same time most articles, blog posts in and outside the SEO industry seemed to ignore it. Not anymore: Content SEO and marketing resources are ubiquitous in 2010.
SEO blogs used to deal with other aspects of Web strategy. Content has often been taken for granted and thus on page optimization, web design, usability and link building took center stage all the time.
Good, great or even killer content for flagship blogs isn’t there automatically.
Just publishing anything and doing SEO for it won’t suffice. You have to really craft outstanding content these days to get noticed at all.
So how do we write or create content that spreads like wildfire on the Web? That’s not not as easy as some people assume. You need a content strategy in the first place, a high quality
or other highly valuable content types. These 30 content SEO, marketing, creation, strategy & promotion insights + resources should enable you to perform high quality content SEO campaigns.
Is Content Really King?
- Over the years many people have contested the notion that content is king.
- Most critics of king content have argued that content by itself is not enough.
- It doesn’t work the way some people want to make you believe “just create good content and the rest will follow”.
- You need to use several SEO and marketing techniques to spread the word about your content.
- Social media are key to get your content in front of an audience.
- Unless you do black hat SEO where you feign content where there is none every serious SEO campaign needs content. Ethical SEO is only possible via content. Where there is no content there is nothing to find by the search engines and thus nothing to optimize either. So SEO starts with content creation in many if not most cases.
- Most business websites offer only low quality content. Some of it can’t be even considered content at all because it has no other function than to advertise a company. Ads are not content and a website solely filled with overselling copy has no content. Content always needs to have some value. Likewise good ads can be considered content in case they consist of more than a sales pitch.
- SEO content is in most cases considered a derogative term. In fact so called SEO copywriting can in many cases not be described as content. It’s simply stuffing to feed search engine spiders with relevant keywords. Such spammy SEO techniques are rooted in the past where some SEO practicioners only cared for rankings and nothing beyond. Stuffing, as in keyword stuffing leads to a high bounce rate and low engagement. People don’t read stuffing, they are after real content. Thus I refer to content SEO here, not SEO content or “old school” SEO copywriting simply for the sake of mentioning keywords.
- For content SEO you have to create value. The values comes first the SEO follows. In design we say form follows function. In SEO we could say SEO follows content. It’s not that simple though. SEO and content are intertwined. You don’t create content first and think of the SEO later. You think strategically. What content can improve my SEO?
- Ever since the dawn of Universal Search where image, video, news, map and other results have entered the main organic search index on Google content via SEO means not just text or more than text. It means more media types even if only text is involved. PDF ebooks or white papers are good examples.
- Excellent content doesn’t appear out of nowhere. Creativity often needs a goal to be able to create something. In the best case you have a set of goals for the long term you want to achieve with your content strategy. The SEOptimise blog had a few goals when it started: branding, traffic generation, link building, readership growth. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t, a blog content strategy may entail other goals: lead generation, earning ad revenue or even sales could be long term business blog goals. Currently I run or write for four flagship blogs. Each of them has a different goal set aka content strategy.
- Your content strategy has to be aligned with your overall business goals. Are you trying to raise awareness and funds like most non-profits attempt to? Do you want to increase sales like most ecommerce businesses want to? Are you in the selling subscriptions business like many media or software as a service/SaaS providers?
- You have to determine your niche and audience, find out where they reside and address them accordingly. They may be on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon or in forums.
- Your customers are just part of your audience. To reach them you need to address influencers and connectors first. These people, often social media users, bloggers and journalists will spread the word for you. Your content strategy must include incentives for these people to link to you and make their friends and other online connections aware of you and your content.
- Perhaps most crucial aspect of the average content strategy is to create a reputation as a trustworthy source of information. Trust is the real PageRank and is increasingly reflected in search results. Google and other search engines measure trust using different methods. You can’t fake trust the long run, you have to earn it. You have to create trusted content.
- Sales copy or keyword stuffed gibberish is not content. Content has a value for and by itself. See it this way: Content is what is inside the bottle, its the wine, sales copy is the label saying it’s red wine from France. The label leads people to the content bus is not the content in itself. Thus content creation is not just SEO copywriting.
- On the Web most people only offers empty bottles with labels. Content creation means offering the wine to your readers. They will taste it, tell their friends and this way you get the desired publicity including the long term positive SEO effects like links and social media saturation.
- Business blogging is probably the most important basic content creation technique everybody serious about it should utilize. Blogging creates an audience for you. The people are crucial in reaching everybody else. They are your ambassadors. Nobody believes corporate execs and sales people. Readers trust bloggers they know due to their writing.
- Team work is essential for most content based campaigns based on more than blogging. Advanced content types like videos, infographics or widgets at least require a marketing/SEO practitioner and a videographer, graphic designer or programmer respectively.
- Whenever you create a piece of content you have to ask yourself: What problem does it solve? What need does it cover? Who will read it and why? Why should the reader tell others about it? The best piece of content isn’t en content anymore, it’s a poem, a work of art or a game. Especially art works and games spread like wildfire by themselves on the Web.
Content Marketing and Promotion
- Believe it or not but press releases still exist and make sense when done right. Old school SEOs tend to use press releases as keyword rich nonsense only automated services reproduce. A well written press release entices to republish it by the press and more than that bloggers. So called social media press releases combined with blogger relations work even better for content marketing nowadays.
- Another practice believed to be dead is alive and kicking: email marketing. Professional email marketing tool like Aweber and MailChimp allow you connect with your preferred audience directly via their mailbox. Most people don’t use RSS to this day. Email is the number way to reach a broad main stream audience. Use your blog to build an email list and promote your content.
- RSS and syndication are nonetheless one of the most important pillars of content marketing and promotion. RSS is used by the elite Web users. Those influencers and connectors who spread the so called word of mouth. Ever since Google Reader allows to share items RSS has become in a way a social media channel of its own. Make sure your rank first for content you syndicate though.
- Social Media, including social networking (Facebook, MySpace) social news (Twitter, Digg), social bookmarking (Delicious), social browsing/discovery, microblogging (Tumblr), media sharing (YouTube, Flickr, Scribd), niche communities and forums offer a huge potential for spreading content. You have to choose a few of those media sites and services your audience already is on build a reputation there as a contributing user. Make sure to use each site exactly the way it was meant to. Submitting your link to “100 social bookmarking sites” is spam. Promote only your valuable content.
- If content is king, viral content is the emperor. Viral content is the ultimate kind of content. A kind of content that spreads by itself after an initial push by the SEO campaign. Rich media tend to become viral content. Images, videos, infographics get shared via a myriad of ways once they get viral. Text by itself often doesn’t go viral but text images o for instance. text can be altered but other media formats are complete in a way and can’t be easily edited. That makes them more likely to get shared instead. On the other hand campaigns for user contributions have proven the most viral in many cases. The IKEA Facebook tagging example is one of the best here.
Some Popular Content Types
- Images: photos and illustrations are probably the most shared type of media content. Content theft abounds though so make sure to make your images trackable and findable for people who’ll discover it without a source. Add your URL to the image. Glennz is a great example for using images this way.
- Videos are the most powerful media format by now. You can literally reach millions of viewers with your message with a movie. A video can also be a screencast or just you talking in front of a camera. The most popular non-profit marketing video last year was a wedding dance.
- Infographics are booming on the Web for at least one year now and there is no end in sight. They work perfectly on social media and provide value for both readers and marketers alike even taken out of context. Many SEO practicioners rely on infographics to get links and traffic. There are already tools and tutorials for to creating your own infographic.
- Ebooks and white papers, checklists and cheat sheets are the evergreens of successful content. The PDF format has been indexed well by Google even before the dawn of Universal Search and you can find them in regular organic search results in the top 10 by now. Some of the most linked to resources are ebooks in the PDF format.
- Widgets are the SEO’s best friend as long as the links included aren’t leading to unrelated third party sites. Interactive widgets in a way automate link building without solely relying on automation as people themselves include them on their sites and spread them. Widgets can be useful or playful. They can capitalize on vanity (as in “how much is your site worth”). They have to fulfill a function though. Useless widgets just created to build links won’t work. It’s as simple as that.
What are the most important take aways for your SEO via content campaigns?
- Content is king but can’t win by itself like in Chess.
- Don’t take content for granted.
- Don’t mistake sales copy for content.
- create valuable content professionally.
- Promote your great content using several techniques.
- Use different content types.
Without proper content your SEO campaign is like selling empty bottles.
Do you have more insights or resources to add? Add them in the comments.