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1) as for me, content marketing involves both, and first of all, it's like you said, being creative and notice what is going on in your daily business operations and what you can turn into content
2) I have seen the same effect, however, I tend to focus more on content rather than links, because: 1. Links tend to disappear over time, whereas your contents stays on your site, you don't have control over your links but you have control over your content 2.if you have content that resonates with you target audience, great links will come naturally and recently we have seen the cases when few links can make a difference in search results, since Google is focusing more on quality of links. There are other things that come to my mind but these are 2 main points.
Good point Slava, completely agree on both counts - link building for me should be something that is a bi-product of your content marketing - or should I say, you wider online marketing.
Don't underestimate the power of paragraphs in content marketing!
We often hear lots of people saying that 'link building is dead' or 'we shouldn't be looking to build links anymore - links should come to us'. This is all fair and well but when you're a local business, this can be quite daunting.
I'm a complete evangelist of content marketing and content-led SEO but this doesn't mean that content HAS to be expensive. There is a BIG difference between the kind of difference that major brands with huge marketing budgets will be doing, compared to local businesses - In my opinion, the latter has just as many, if not more, opportunities for success with their content.
Content is Everything
Let's take the example of the local coffee shop above. They probably have a pretty small budget compared to some of the bigger brands within their wider industry; for example, Nescafe (the coffee supplier). Nescafe would be able to spend big on multimedia marketing campaigns that span across all kinds of digital mediums. They will run TV ads, spend big bucks on social media and have a huge team of designers that can create amazing infographics, etc every day. This is because they are building an international brand. Link building is just one aspect of their online marketing (and probably quite a small one) - it's all about exposure to their brand. Content for them would come in the form of anything that will get their brand in the face of their potential customers.
With the local coffee shop, they aren't looking to build an international brand - they are looking to drive through local customers within their area into their coffee shop. Like Nescafe, link building isn't going to be top of the agenda. Although they want to rank well within the search engines for search terms related to their business, what they really want is maximum exposure for their brand on more of a micro-level. Social media will be much more of a priority for them because it gives them the opportunity to engage with their customers on a more personal level (their business model will be hugely focused around customer service and engagement). This has similarities to the major brand but on a whole different scale. Content for them will be their menus, their products, the way they decorate their shop, the people that work for them (that's right, employees can be content too!), their recipes, their skills (this can be shown by creating videos of them making their products). This is what will build their brand and actually build organic links to their site in the long-term.
Concluding My Point
The point I'm trying to make is that there are enormous similarities in the goals of online marketing campaigns for both major international brands and small local business; they are just on completely different scales. This is what shapes the content marketing strategy and allows local businesses to build a brand through their creative content. Most of the time, their content is just the stuff that they would be doing on a daily basis anyway.
We shouldn't be saying 'we need to stop building links' because sometimes you need to build links to get this content in front of people. What we should be doing though is to define and understand the content objectives of your business - once you've established this, you can begin realising the wider opportunities for creating exciting and unique content that relates to your customers without having to spend a fortune.
- Content isn't just an infographic, it can be your product/service collateral, your shop/office decor and even your staff.
- Don't dismiss link building, but understand the objectives of your content marketing and the resources that you have already before thinking about buying in more.
I totally agree, Matthew.IMO, people should determine the primary goal behind an online campaign first, rather than jumping straight away building links / creating tons of contents which would help very less in achieving the target of that campaign.
Exactly. I think one of the issues with link building is that often people build links 'blindly'. Their goal is to get to page 1 for their keyword and that's it. That's far too linear thinking. With a little direction and strategy, you can harness your content to bring in much greater results.
That's precisely what I think, too. :)
Couldn't agree more as well, from an online marketing perspective don't jump straight into anything, from an SEO perspective, I think you should start looking at build links from day 1 rather than building up tons of content for marketing. (From a small business perspective)
I agree.Content Marketing or not, it's important for small organisations to build links from the first day if their 'goal' is to rock the SERPs.
Here are 2 great example on why content marketing can Increase a local business Sales By 30% And How Content Marketing Can Destroy A Business!
How To Use Content Marketing To Increase Local Sales By 30%
So there's this local black smith shop located and Jims city and that city there are 1500 other black smith. so one day the local black smith decided to stand out from the crowd so what did that local black smith do ! He decided I am going to take my business online ! and thats exactly what that black smith did he decided He was going to take he's local business online! So days pass the local blacksmith decided I will start blogging and only focus on content marketing for the first few months. So he did. so the first step the blacksmith did was went ahead and open google keyword tools. and that keyword tools he came up with an idea of keyword research. so he research the keyword he was going to targeted that he belive was going to drive the must targeted traffic ! and drive the must sales. days pass the blacksmith got he's little keyword he want to target. and he just started blogging around those long tail keyword that was highly targeted keyword that could drive traffic through the roof! So months pass the little blacksmith now ranking for all he's chosen keyword ! and now the local blacksmith get new leads per day and insane amount of local traffic.
( why did the blacksmith succeed! well he did he's research before attacking the shark!)
How Content Marketing Can Destroy A Business
Years pass and the old local blacksmith still doing so well so he decided that he would go out and teach one of he's buddy name charles that also a blacksmith on how to move he's business to the web and have a chance to reach the same type of success he had with content marketing! so days pass its time for the old blacksmith to teach charles how the reach the same sucess he had with content marketing. so the old marketer told charles 3 basic rules of content marketing,1) Do your research2) Choice Your Keywords Wisely
3) Grab Your Readers Attention With Your Title + Call To Action
So 3 days pass and charles finally have the understanding of how content marketing work. the first day of content marketing charles decided he would listen to the old blacksmith and go do he's research and that exactly what he did ! He went to the google tools and did he's research. so charles decided that if the old blacksmith could of rank for all this long tail keyword he must have a chance to rank for some more competition keywords Like "Metal,Swords,Blacksmith" so 10weeks pass and charles now have a list of broad keywords that will drive insane amount of traffic! So charles starts posting about the best metals,blacksmith, swords. 4month pass charles didnt receive a single call or sales from he's awesome content. but he was sure he did all the research and has an amazing title!
Meaning of the story
Content marketing can drive insane amount of traffic if done right,
lets take the first orginal blacksmith that decided he would move he would move he's business to the web
1) he focus on relavant keyword that he know would get targeted traffic from and have a higher chance of getting sales. (Long Tail Keywords)
2) He DId he's keyword researh
And the end for this blacksmith he reach the sucess he wanted for he's blacksmith business
Lets take the second blacksmith
1) He did he's research but he focus on a broader keyword ! That was relavant but not as targeted as long tail keywords
Moral Of the story
Do your research! Pick your keyword wisely!
Whilst the above analogies are great, i think the point here is how to get the best out the clients time. Ultimately it's what going to be getting them more traffic and if (like most of my clients) you pay an hourly rate; 3-4 hours a month of SEO specific time, content marketing, won't cut it.
But here lies the problem, they should be treated as a separate entities.
Put it this way: would creating great promotional and traffic relevant content on social media drive more traffic or would ranking for a targeted niche relevant term?
For small businesses, getting natural links from content marketing should be a by-product not a SEO strategy.
Awesome point Martin, thats why I've seen so many small businesses go viral. A great example is the dry cleaning store in NY that offered free dry cleaning for the Homeless if they had a job interview. It's ways of engaging people to believe in your company and more than anything trust you.
That's why content marketing is building a brand and link building/SEO is making sales, it depends what you're looking for.
My only comment on this will be based on data.
First of all read this- http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/google-webmaster-guidelines-experiment/
Then look at this http://i.imgur.com/L5zrb7B.png
Then finally this http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/income-reports/
I think my views on content marketing are clear :)
Also notice, that search traffic only accounts for 32% of all traffic
oh, and I'm the blog whore? :P
Awesome example Matt!
Content for content's sake doesn't work. "Doing" SEO without knowing what you're doing doesn't work. However, both methods work when executed correctly. It's not whether or not it is done, but rather how it is done.
Time is scarce for small businesses. They don't have time to learn the "how" and execute it correctly on their first try. All too often, they visit the wrong neighborhood on the web and do what they've learned... or hire the wrong people.
Bad blogging (scraping/plagiarism/panda) can get you penalized just as well as bad links (irrelevant neighborhoods/fishy anchor text/penguin) - so I wouldn't be so quick to say one is better than the other, or that you need both.
Have you run into a business who has gone through the hands of a rogue SEO who did low quality content spun from a competitor and a list of comment links from forums? I have. It's not pretty.
If I had to choose, I'd say it's easier for small businesses to be smart about content generation. SEO? That's not part of their core business - it's inefficient for them to learn it beyond the absolute fundamentals.
I don't know - Content marketing is pretty easy if you're creative but SEO is ridiculously easy when you actually understand fundamentals.
It's just ending up on the right bits and pieces. If I was giving a friend a hand with getting started in SEO for their website, I'd say buy SEOPresser and look at Jon Cooper's link building strategy, as well as look at giveaway outreach. That's maximum $300 and a couple hours, they should be rocking the SERPs pretty quickly as well then.
The beauty of link building is to do basic stuff, you don't have to understand it, hence the people who are on $2/hour doing "manual link building". If an uneducated internet newbie can manual link build, so can a small business owner who has a bit of potential capital.
Definitely not dismissing link building. The thing is, others have the wrong notion about link building that's why they can blatantly say dismiss it. But if you give link building an even closer look, you'll find that its all about building relationships with other webmasters.