In medieval times, the royalty always led the way. In 2012, we tend not to let royalty guide our preferences, except for maybe in terms of weddings and/or funny hats, but my title “serfs” a purpose.
Okay, no more puns, lest they draw the bridge between my readers and my advice! (That was the last one, I promise.)
When an SMB is just starting up, or even as they’re working on their marketing strategies and boosting their market share, it is often heard that “Content is King.” But many have trouble converting the saying into practical steps and positive results.
The best way to learn something new and convert a tactic to positive results is by consulting the experts. Expert, professional marketers point the way to turning the things you’ve learned into content and conversions. But before we get to the experts, let’s have a quick refresher on the content generation philosophy.
Content Generation & Content Curation
Everyone hears the phrase “Content is King” and on its face we understand that it’s necessary to have good content. A recent post on ContentEqualsMoney.com talks about the value of content, and does a great job of reasoning why success in online marketing hinges upon good content.
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Anyone who searches the web wants quality, unique, and relevant content. It doesn’t matter if someone Googles “X” looking for the sponsored listings, or drills down through several pages of organic listings. We all want relevant and unique content in the end. In fact, Google’s own Adwords tests for SEM talk about the absolute necessity of relevant and unique content at the destination of one’s search.
Having quality content on your website not only rewards your end-user, but is also rewarded by Google. Google crawls pages and rewards sites that have content that is used, share, likely to be relevant, and identified in multiple places on the Web (but always be careful about duplicate content!). Generation is one step, something with which ContentEqualsMoney.com is always a top-choice provider and assistant, and curation is another facet. Being able to make sure you curate appropriate content from around the web. Proper attribution and repurposing for your own needs are always necessary, but they both play huge factors in making sure your site is identified as one with good content.
To learn more about the necessity of unique content visit LetsTalkSeo.com.
So now that we’ve got some foundational knowledge of content, let’s get back to those experts.
SEOmoz & Hubspot State of SEO
Every year, SEOmoz, an SEO software development company, and Hubspot, an “all-in-one” marketing software maker, conduct a survey of marketing professionals worldwide to survey the state of internet marketing. In 2012, their survey had over 4,400 respondents from which more than 40,000 answers were generated.
Their survey really helps understand the state of SEO and internet marketing in 2012; in fact, that’s what they called it. You can view their presentation on Slideshare, here. You can also sign up and view their webinar here, which I highly recommend as the extra insight and conversation help to drive different perspectives and ideas. Over the next few paragraphs, I’ll be repeatedly referencing their presentation and will refer to a particular slide — but I won’t link you to it, because you need to go view it for yourself!
Inbound vs. Paid
There’s a big debate afoot over inbound marketing versus paid. Paid search places sponsored advertising, while inbound marketing takes advantage of content generation, SEO, and social media for business to help increase visibility, leads, and conversions. Slide 3 of the SEOmoz presentation shows us that from their perspective, inbound channels drive more than 50% of the distribution of their free trials. Why is this significant? Inbound equals content. You can’t bring people in via inbound marketing if you don’t have the content to make it happen.
On Slide 5, we see that based on their research, of the ~3 billion (B!) searches every day on Google, 75% of clicks go to organic results, not paid ads. Far from being a condemnation of paid ads, this simply underscores the concert in which the two work, and how important relevant, unique content is even if it’s often overlooked.
SEM is Renting Attention
Slide 7 is a signpost (quite literally, actually) for a discussion that you can truly only understand over the Webinar, but upon hearing it, I gained a whole new perspective for SEM advertising. Yours truly is Adwords certified and understands the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of search advertising, but I had never considered paid ads as simply renting attention. But it makes perfect sense.
Again, this is not a condemnation of paid search because there’s a lot of success to be had with it, but it underscores that while paid ads are temporary, the return on good content is significantly larger because of its longevity. Unique, interesting, and relevant content never go out of style and will always be useful. Comparatively, once the budget runs out on your SEM campaign, those ads aren’t still out there generating ROI like your content can be.
SEO & Social, Sittin’ in a Tree
In the 2012 State of SEO presentation, both Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz and Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot address how interrelated social media and SEO are, because of the necessity (and popularity) of good content.
For marketers in their survey, it was no surprise that Facebook ranked number one of most-used social sites. Second was Twitter, and third was Google+. Google+ is somewhat of a surprise, as it lags behind other networks, despite its growing popularity – and despite the fact that social usage rates are on the rise.
Rand and Shah surmise, and I’ve reached this conclusion as well, that while the social reach of Google+ is significantly less than its competitors, it’s tremendously important for SEO. Google rewards users that have Google+ profiles and link their profiles to their content. It also rewards businesses that have a Google Places account. While it might feel a little Used-Car-Sales-y (Hey! Use our stuff, and we’ll promote you!), it’s just a rule of the game in 2012, and we’re better to abide by it and use it to the best our ability than to ignore it.
Rounding out the top 5 were Youtube and LinkedIn, which many people see as less of a branding and social outlet, and more of a showcase for the many talented, creative employees a business may have.
Based in the top 5 list is the understanding that sharing content is free, and it can bring huge ROI to your business when you develop the right content. When surveying the marketers, SEOmoz and Hubspot found that the vast majority of respondents work on, or work with their team on, content generation, SEO, and social media/community management. Marketers know content is important, and so is social media. SEO, and quality content, are connected while PPC isn’t. If you start with good, relevant content generation then you’ll see growth in link inventory, which will reward your SEO quality by default.
Capability, Strategy & Tactics
To some extent, you’ve already built out your strategy by this point, or at least you should have. So what are the tactics you’ll actually employ? While what you choose can vary widely based on your industry, your capability, and your particular business needs, the tactics employed by the experts should be a model for what you should do. And as we always say at ContentEqualsMoney.com, there’s no difference between what Fortune 500 companies can do, and what you can do. It’s not about budget; it’s about creativity, ingenuity and hard work.
Slide 14 of the State of SEO presentation tells us what tactics marketers employ, and it’s no surprise that all of the highest percentage tactics are ones any size business can employ without having to break the bank.
- Focus on local SEO
- Start a new blog, or invest in current blogging strategy
- Create video and/or graphic content
- Analyze competitor content & backlinks
On the very next slide, marketers indicate they most heavily produce the same kinds of content we’ve been talking about: blog posts, social media statuses, articles, guides, e-newsletters, and video. These are all the things that your business can, and should, be doing right now.
The rest of the presentation goes on to discuss emerging trends and tactics, how the landscape of SEO changes with constantly evolving search engine algorithms (I’m looking at you, Google!), sponsored ad changes, and shrinking domain diversity.
But the biggest pull from the entire back half of the presentation is Shah’s first tip on slide 27: solve for the humans. When designing your site, creating your content, and conceptualizing and executing your marketing campaign, you have to “solve for the humans.” Don’t worry about cheating engines, crappy link-building, or buying attention. Worry about making sure the content you give to people is relevant to your business and good for people.
And we should know! At ContentEqualsMoney.com, we specialize in creating relevant content that is SEO optimized for you and your business. We understand the necessity of content generation, how that fits into social media for business, and the ROI you can receive for a long time because of the great content you offer.
To be successful, regardless of whatever else you do for your online marketing, you need good content. Content generation is king; don’t be a peasant, learn from the princes! Let places like SEOMoz and Hubspot figure out what you can do, and then let ContentEqualsMoney.com help you do it.