When you’re looking to acquire search engine traffic and get valuable links back to your site, responding by beefing up SEO might feel like the right first step. But marketing professionals might disagree.
A yearly survey of marketing professionals by CopyPress showed that 34% of marketers who focused on SEO in 2012 were changing their focus to content marketing in 2013.
Additionally, of the 329 marketing professionals surveyed this year, content marketing earned the largest share of responses with about 35% of marketers saying they’d focus their resources in this area. This comes after content marketing and SEO came in tied in 2012.
Why are changes like this happening? Here are 5 top reasons marketing professionals have changed their minds and why you should, too.
1.When SEO changes, the benefits of great content marketing don’t
Google is constantly cracking down on SEO “tactics” that are really just ways to game their algorithm.
Some businesses lost 80 to 90 percent of revenue virtually overnight after the Panda and Penguin updates to the Google algorithm. The reason: these companies focused on low-quality content with the sole purpose of better search rankings.
Once Google caught onto this, their high rankings were wiped away.
Those who stick to tried-and-true content marketing methods never have to worry about these big changes to Google’s algorithm. Why? Because they’ve built their content within Google’s rules.
The winners in SEO are those that don’t chase SEO tactics. They follow a content marketing strategy of consistently developing great content that humans want to share and link to.
2. Content marketing gets results for less
Developing great content in the form of infographics, blog posts, and more can cost money, whether it’s done in-house or by freelancers hired. But SEO can actually cost a lot more.
Neil Patel recently posted an analysis of his content marketing campaign for KISSmetrics. They spent about $28,200 to make 47 infographics. Not exactly a drop in the bucket, but here are the results they got:
- 2.5 million visitors
- 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains
- 41,329 tweets
- 20,859 likes
The kicker: Neil estimates that paying for SEO experts to do the same work would’ve cost $1.07 million instead. Great content marketing may not be free, but it sure looks like a better deal than SEO when done right.
Don’t forget: SEO work needs constant upkeep and attention to the latest trends, and resources must be spent to do so. While some SEO work is cumulative, what worked yesterday might turn out to be a waste of time and money today.
3. Hiring SEO help can be expensive, risky, or both
The SEO pros are always working hard to build the reputation of their industry. The reason: there are still plenty of SEO hucksters.
Between SEOs that don’t have a clue about what they’re doing to the ones that use spammy tactics, there’s a lot of risk to your business when you hire someone for SEO help.
SEO work can be risky, especially when a large chunk of your revenue is riding on Google search rankings. There have been plenty of SEO horror stories of hiring the wrong company to do the job and getting caught by Google for using banned practices. An example: JC Penney, which was caught violating Google’s guidelines.
One day, JC Penney ranked #1 for “Samsonite carry on luggage” and “living room furniture,” but both rankings dropped to #71 and #68, respectively, due to “manual action” by Google.
JC Penney fired their SEO firm shortly after this incident occurred.
If you can’t hire a big SEO firm with proven results, small businesses are left with smaller agencies that can be a gamble. Inexpensive SEO services often mean consultants use ineffective or practices banned by Google to build links in an attempt to improve search rankings.
Small businesses can be victims of bad SEO work, like in this case.
Of course, I’m not saying all SEO consultants are bad at what they do or scammers. But the bad apples are out still out there and can be difficult to spot due to the highly-technical and secretive nature of SEO.
Content marketing is far less risky. At worst, developing ineffective content costs a few bucks but doesn’t pose a real threat to your entire business. At best, the upside can look much like the KISSmetrics example above with solid backlinks built and sustained traffic to your website.
4. Builds a brand equity organically
There’s really nothing about SEO that helps build a great brand. Even if you’re able to get search engine traffic organically from Google, bringing visitors onto your site with bland and disengaging content won’t keep them there. Maybe you have ways to capture leads on your site to nurture potential leads. But what’s the incentive for them to come back if your content stinks?
How about this plan instead: develop great content that builds your brand and works for SEO. You’ll have great content that potential customers love. If they find your content helpful in solving their problems, they’ll stick around until they’re ready to buy.
5. Content marketing is still pro-SEO
Choosing to concentrate on content marketing doesn’t mean abandoning SEO. If done right, content marketing enhances SEO.
The difference is the results don’t come from focusing on SEO directly but rather by incorporating good SEO practices as part of a robust content marketing strategy. This is done by utilizing proper on-site SEO practices while creating shareable content including blog posts, infographics, and more, just like KISSmetrics did to get the amazing results in the example above.
Jeffrey Trull helps businesses with content marketing strategy, SEO, and blogging experience. He’s written hundreds of blog posts for clients designed to increase traffic, leads, and sales. If you’re looking to develop your content marketing strategy including building a blog, contact Jeffrey here.
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