What’s Trending: The New SEO and the Case for Content Marketing
May 18, 2021
Oh, to be an SEO specialist in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s! It was such a simple job back then. Find your keyword, repeat it a dozen times in the text, add a few extra mentions in invisible white text at the bottom. Then create a few sites to link back to your post, and link to them, and build a little insular empire of bot-fooling content.
Granted, none of the above was about bringing any value to the audience, just about tricking the search engine into serving up your homepage. Modern SEO may be more labor-intensive, but it gets better results for everyone involved. It’s far more about creating quality, trustworthy content that brings true value to readers. These readers, in turn, send signals to search engines that your content is the real deal.
Another major benefit of new-style SEO: It can map directly to business outcomes. For this roundup of most-shared marketing content, I focused on how to upgrade your content marketing strategy for the new SEO, and how to focus on goals that make the business case for content. Along the way, you’ll learn how to create a more effective content calendar, use subject matter experts to add credibility, punch up your prose, and more.
What Marketers Were Reading and Sharing Most Last Month:
Modern SEO is more about writing for a specific audience than chasing the highest search volume terms. That’s especially true in B2B, says Adriana Stein, because frequently we’re talking to small but influential audiences. The right terms to target might have only double-digit search volume, but an outsized impact on decision-making.
“By targeting low search volume keywords, you rank faster for more intent-specific keywords, and can eventually leverage this to go after more competitive ones,” Adriana says.
One aspect of SEO is creating the type of content that Google recognizes as valuable. That means content with E.A.T.: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. It’s easy to optimize content for keyword topics or clusters, but how do we get the E.A.T. that makes content truly rank-worthy?
According to TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden, it’s all about adding trusted subject matter experts (or ‘influencers’). Find folks who are influential and authoritative about your subject, start a relationship, and co-create content together. The key is to match your content with both search demand and influencer expertise. “The topics your customers are looking for should drive both content optimization for search as well as the effort to find the right experts to collaborate with,” says Lee.
There are plenty of folks who would say that print journalism is dead, but its core concepts are as pertinent as ever. When you fold the discipline into marketing, journalism skills can bring your content back to life. Journalists are trained to write clearly, simply, and to hook a reader in the first paragraph. All of these are instincts content marketers could stand to develop, says Ron Lieback.
My favorite tip: “Hook your readers, and fast. The goal is to immediately heighten your reader’s interest, whether emotionally, intellectually, or both. Quickly provide insight only you can, from your experience, in whatever subject you’re discussing.”
Every artist knows the irritation of being asked to work for “exposure” instead of actual payment. And just like you can’t pay your rent in “exposure,” you can’t run a business on “awareness.” Marketers need to get better at speaking the language of executives who are focused on the bottom line.
“The myth that content marketing is some nebulous, feel-good, unmeasured thing gets told all too often,” argues Kim Moutsos. When we combine content marketing and business goals, we can deliver results that make sense to the C-suite and our audiences.
One key component of successful, ROI-generating content marketing: A thoughtful content strategy. A content marketing calendar helps focus your content efforts to create the most useful experience for your audience, as well as the most productive to meeting your goals.
A content calendar makes your content more strategic, and success more repeatable, says Fio Dossetto. It also adds efficiency and effectiveness: “Once you’ve planned out the steps required to publish a specific piece of content, you can simply repeat them with every new piece instead of having to start from scratch; this not only saves you time, but makes it easier to estimate how long each task might take and make sure no step is skipped.”
As video, social-first, and interactive content becomes more commonplace, it may seem like the humble e-book is headed for extinction. But according to William Terdoslavich, there’s plenty of value still in static, even gated, PDF eBooks.
“That lead you are trying to reach has to make an ‘informed’ buying decision. Getting that person to purchase will require time, effort and facts. Here the e-book delivers, as B2B customers are looking for authoritative sources to inform, confirm and validate,” says William.
After six entries about how to refine your content marketing, here’s Joe Pulizzi with a more radical recommendation. Why is the famous founder of the Content Marketing Institute, the guy whose name is synonymous with content marketing, ready to pull the plug?
Fortunately, he’s not talking about ending the practice of content marketing altogether. Rather, it’s about “killing” the channels that aren’t working and focusing on one or two that are most effective. “The greatest audience-building entities of all time selected one primary channel in which to build their platform,” Joe says, listing everything from Fortune Magazine to PewDiePie’s YouTube channel as proof.
The last 16 months have been full of disruption and upheaval for everyone, and marketers aren’t immune from the fallout. The key to surviving whatever comes next: Agility and resiliency, says Michael Brenner.
“To remain agile during uncertain times, you should focus on short-term planning, consider outsourcing to fill talent gaps, be proactive, and prioritize building brand loyalty over winning new customers,” Michael says. “Creativity, resilience, technology and reconstruction are four buzzwords that help define the role of marketing organizations in the ‘new normal.’”
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