Invest in Content Marketing (Not “SEO”)
It doesn’t take a web marketing expert to recognize that the picture you see online and the real world are two distinctly different places. As an example, with a small investment in a new website and some web marketing savvy, the local heating and plumbing company with a couple trucks can suddenly appear to be bigger and perhaps better equipped to serve customers than known regional powerhouses like Four Seasons Heating & Cooling in Chicago, Horizon Services in the PA / DE region, Len The Plumber in MD, or Michael and Son in MD, VA, NC, etc.
Of course, the reality is that a local service company with a few trucks can’t come close to covering the area that one of these larger players can. The digital picture being shown is aspirational at best (a wish or hope for what may become true in the future) and more likely a bold-faced lie (because the vast majority of small operators don’t have the management moxie to accomplish what the companies above have done).
How This Relates Back to SEO
Good question—Let me explain…
SEO tactics generally fall into one of three categories:
- Technical SEO
- Content Marketing
- SEO Trickery
What falls into the category of technical SEO are all things you can—and should—do to make it easier for the search engines’ software to find, crawl, understand, and index your website. Examples of technical SEO items include improving site speed, using a search-friendly site navigation menu, and creating a well-structured XML sitemap. All of these (and there are many more) make perfect sense for the logical person.
Consumers hate slow loading websites, so it makes sense for Google to reward sites that have taken the time to optimize for a fast load time. Google uses links within your site to discover and crawl new pages of your website. Your navigation menu provides a great way for them to understand how your site is structured, but they can only do this IF they can actually crawl the links included in your nav. Some types of navigation menus are easier for Google to crawl than others.
An XML sitemap is another way you can make Google’s job easier. Think of your website as if it were a house and you’re planning to do a major remodel. Google is your new architect/remodeler/builder. An XML sitemap is like an architectural blueprint for your home—it makes the builder’s job easier. That’s what technical SEO is about—making it easier for the search engines to find, crawl, understand, and index your website.
Content marketing, which is really the subject of this post, is all about establishing relevance and authority through the creation of content designed to add value to your prospective and current clients. All consumers today have a library of information at their fingertips in the World Wide Web delivered at their convenience via their laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc. Gone are the days where the consumer needed a sales rep at the store to educate them before a purchase.
Today, that education still happens, but it typically happens in the absence of a sales rep.
Your new salesrep is your website and overall online presence.
It’s the job of your web content to educate your prospects. To use an example close to home, one of the most painful calls we get is from a client who was considering us to build their website, but hired another company because their price was less. When this happens, it’s entirely our fault. We failed to properly educate the business owner (through the marketing and sales process) about what really goes into building a new website.
When it comes to SEO, content marketing tactics include:
- adding more specific and relevant pages to your website(s)
- submitting content to other relevant sites your target audience is likely to read/trust
- creating case studies, buyer’s guides, e-books, how-to’s, infographics, podcasts, scrollers, videos, webinars, and white papers
Each of these is a type of media. Think of each—the e-book, video, etc.—as a method of delivering content to your target audience. The preferred delivery mechanism is the one that is easiest and most accessible for your target audience.
The final category of SEO tactics is what I’m going to call SEO trickery. SEO trickery are all the things that companies do that, if you really think about it, are misleading—to consumers as well as to Google (and you don’t have to think long to realize it). A classic example of SEO trickery is to pay a company to:
- Create one (or a couple) poorly written article(s)
- Create dozens of variations of them (typically with ‘article spinning software’)
- Post them on thousands of blogs and websites that they own (a private blog network)
- Link back to your business with a target keyword phrase (like, ‘Denver plumbing company’)
The most frustrating part of all this—for business owners and reputable Internet marketing companies alike—is that, in many cases, these tricks work! A lot of people don’t know it, but Blue Corona started as an analytics company—a data company. We helped (and continue to help) companies accurately track their advertising and marketing so that we could show them exactly which campaigns were working and which should be eliminated.
To support our efforts, we created a piece of web marketing software that assists us with analyzing a company’s website and overall presence online. Over the last year, we’ve used our software to crawl and analyze more than 500,000 different websites. We’ve even used it to crawl and analyze every website from an entire industry! In the process, we’ve seen and subsequently forgotten about more SEO tricks than the average person will ever know.
Where I’m Going with All This
For the last few years, Google has been on the warpath in a fight to find and eliminate webspam. They recognize that the digital world and reality are, at present, two entirely different things. If this discrepancy between reality and the web world has produced a winner, it’s the local business owner who, with a minimal investment, is able to successfully compete with—and in many cases beat—the big guys. Ironically, sometimes this is because the ‘big guys’ have attorneys that prevent them (or slow them) from executing some of the SEO trickery!
In a way, it’s kind of like creating contracts for your business. No one likes paying an attorney to create a lengthy legal agreement and the legalese doesn’t make it any easier to sign on a new client. It’s only after you’ve been sued and had to settle—because defending your principles would bankrupt you—that you realize, “hmmm… guess I should have paid that attorney to create a solid agreement for my business.”
It’s all about short-term perspective vs. long-term perspective and I’m begging you to think long-term—when it comes to EVERY aspect of your business.
Thinking long-term about your online marketing means spending some serious time thinking about your prospects needs and then creating a content marketing strategy that adds value at every stage of the buying cycle. Of course, the content created must be published on websites that are easy for the search engines to find—that’s technical SEO.
What you should avoid is short-term thinking and the SEO trickery that comes with it. These two are like sugar. They create an immediate boost, but they’re often followed by some VERY expensive trips to the dentist!
We get inquiries like these all the time:
“I need get my phone ringing ASAP! When I search on Google for keywords related to my business, XYZ company is all over the first page. Do for me whatever they’re doing and do it now!”
“I think my website has been penalized. I was ranking all over the first page, but since March 2013, I’ve now fallen to page 8. I need new good links to get my rankings back. Can you help?”
“I need some blog posts and guest articles written. How much do you charge per post?”
These inquires are the epitome of people taking a short-term approach to online marketing. Before you send an inquiry like this, STOP and think…
- Why do people hire my company?
- Where does my company add the most value to our clients?
- Who are my best prospects? (describe them in as much detail as you can)
- What are the stages of the purchase process for my product/service?
- What are the key questions a prospect asks during each purchase phase?
- If I could hold my prospects hand (in a non-creepy way) and walk them through the process—if I could be their right-hand guy—what would I show them/tell them; which questions would I get them asking, etc. at each step along the way?
The answers to these questions (and more) become your content marketing strategy and implementation plan. If done correctly—by someone who also understands how search engines work—you’ll succeed (and you’ll never have to worry about another Google update every again). What I’m recommending isn’t the cheapest route, but you know what they say about that…
Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Stop investing in SEO and invest in content marketing. If you’re creating content and the only purpose of that content is to rank for various keywords, you’re headed in the wrong direction—we can help. To learn more about creating an awesome content marketing strategy and implementation plan for your business, call us or reach out to us online.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
View more blogs by Ben Landers
“We are very pleased not only with the end result, but with the entire process of working with Blue Corona. The amount of patience, guidance, and knowledge that they displayed throughout the whole process made them a very easy and enjoyable partner to work with. We are thrilled with our new website, mobile site, and content management system. We would recommend Blue Corona for any website development or redesign project. ”
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