I acknowledge that the title of this article is somewhat provocative, but those who only do content marketing for the purpose of search engine optimization or link building think very one-dimensionally and will experience disappointments.
As regular readers of this blog notice, the topic burns my soul. A program line within an inquiry made me take up the topic again:
Only what I notice is that content marketing has become unavoidable and has become the core of the SEO measures at some agencies.
This now widespread impression, which is also fueled by statements from valued SEO colleagues and is processed as “new SEO” or alternative form of link building, is misleading and not useful for companies. In the following, I would wish to explain in more detail why I consider this viewpoint to be questionable and very short-term or one-dimensional both from the SEO agency perspective and from the perspective of companies. The following thoughts build on the contributions
- Quo Vadis link building? PR, marketing or SEO?
- SEO or not SEO? Thoughts on repositioning search engine optimization
- Positioning SEO in Marketing from a Bird’s Eye View [Infographic]
- Branding & the new Google ranking: Why SEO is no longer enough …
On. Therefore, reading recommendations on this topic, if not already done.
What is content marketing anyway?
Foremost of all, the question must be asked what content marketing is and what it contains. Already with this simple question, the spirits and opinions separate. SEOs see content marketing as a way to link building, PRler and marketers as a means of corporate communications and marketing. Social media marketers, even so, as a means for social media marketing. This silo thinking of whichever party is nonetheless the biggest problem when it comes to content marketing.
That’s why I’m referring to what content marketing is for us. We consider this opinion: Content marketing is the planned production, publication and distribution of content appropriate to the needs of the user group, both via owned media, earned media and supporting paid media. Content marketing is not the creation of a blog and the strategy or haphazard publication of content that just anyone reads. Content marketing is likewise not a link building, link marketing or whatever you want to call it.
To further support my skepticism about content marketing for the sole purpose of building links, I would like to go into the goals of content marketing next.
What are the goals of content marketing?
When looking at the goals of content marketing, it makes sense to differentiate between short-term goals and long-term goals. Content marketing campaigns primarily pursue short-term goals. A long-term content strategy.
Short-term content marketing goals are:
- Generate reach by distributing content via social media / word-of-mouth
- Creation of social buzz
- Generation of co-occurrences, co-citations and backlinks
- New visitors
A main goal of a content marketing strategy is long-term goals:
- Community building
- Build your own communication system
- Building a brand / authority
- Building trust
- Reputation optimization
- Structure of own media / own communication channels
- Findability in Google & Co.
- Regular readers or visitors
- Improve completion rates
- Binding of influences
- Long-term loyal customer relationships
- Returning visitors
The long-term goals should always be in focus, granting to the motto the steady drop hollows the stone. And here we speak in periods of several years, not months. That’s where the wonderful word “sustainability” comes into play. That means you have to get a pre-investment and sometimes wait a long time for the branches to bear fruit.
Here, too, SEO goals only play a short to medium-term role.
Who is doing content marketing now?
I suppose you can clearly see here that it is always a question of perspective, how you would set up a content marketing team. SEOs see themselves in the kernel and see their skills as the decisive factors. Marketing and PR specialists leave the online or performance marketing perspective completely out of view.
As a qualified business graduate with a focus on marketing and years of passionate search engine vendor, I stand somewhere between the chairs and that’s why I described last year in my article ” The perfect inbound marketing team ” what an optimal team composition looks like for me, And there SEOs are part of the content marketing process or team.
In particular, due to her experience in keyword research and analysis, control of internal and extraneous links and her experience with common web analysis and research tools. But not to the extent that one or the other SEO colleague would like. Below is a graphic that covers the above content marketing process in the individual stages with the responsible individuals.
Good SEOs have to be part of the content marketing process because they cognize how to rank content on Google & Co. And the hunt engines are still the most important entry-level source for researching products and services. But…
Why content marketing for SEO purposes or link building makes little sense
In forward motion, I have no doubt that good content marketing and well-made link magnets can lead to links. We have been capable to determine this positive experience in the last 4 years now content marketing for ourselves and customers. But we never did content market with an undivided focus on link building.
Backward to the statement from the beginning and another quote from the communication with the prospect already mentioned at the beginning of this article as a supplement:
I just inquired about another not unknown agency and they basically offered me to generate articles tailored to target groups with the intention of generating discussion and links. In the long term, this should result in a series of articles with a thematic focus. The prices for the generated content, some of which should also be in the form of high-quality infographics, seem a bit high for the pure eventuality to generate a few links.
I actually need links.
And just this quote describes the problem quite well. Content marketing is not scalable in terms of the number of backlinks and is expensive compared to a classic link building…. But it only seems expensive if you have pure SEO goals such as link building or better findability in search engines, I. E. Search engine optimization (SEO) in mind.
And this is where a battle arises. Companies that only pursue SEO goals need backlinks. Content marketing, no thing how well done, does not guarantee these backlinks or better findability in the search engines. So, the alternative to link building proclaimed by many SEO agencies is quickly put on shaky feet and can completely miss the SEO target.
Particularly when you start new with content marketing, backlinks are a rarity, no matter how good the content is, since readership or reach, reputation and trust are often lacking on the side of potential linkers such as editors, bloggers, webmasters… This requires, especially in the initial stage, “artificial” support via outreach via earned media, content promotion via PPC etc. This increases the readership, there are discussions about comments, social signals, and perhaps even social buzz. You break into a trustworthy and thus a worthy link or source of information.
At one time all of these mediums to long-term goals have been achieved, it is easier to build organic backlinks over your own content, but without guarantee. They are a positive impression from previous investments.
Content marketing goals and budget over time
Differentiation between content strategy and link magnet
And here it is worth differentiating between a medium to long-term oriented content strategy and operational link magnets, where even the best planning always requires a little bit of luck to get involved get corresponding backlinks.
Of path, content marketing campaigns, for example, in the form of linkbaits, can be planned and designed in such a way that new backlinks that result from this become more predictable. For instance, if you develop content ideas in advance that are specifically geared towards potential linkeratis. Nevertheless, this is no guarantee for the number of x backlinks or increasing visibility, at least not in the effectiveness that the classic scalable link structure can achieve.
Link magnets or Link baits are individual movements that are planned so that they tailored to specific Linkerati groups are created aligned and disseminated. (Linkeratis are persons who are technically and / or responsible in a situation to put links). Sasa Ebach is one of the pioneers in Germany when it comes to linkbaits. In increase to building links, linkbaits also pursue the marketing goals mentioned above. They are not a means for SEO purposes only.
A content strategy, on the other hand, is a long-term strategy that, in combination with occasional linkbaits, can contribute to better scalability in the long term with regard to link building. Only here the focus is on the marketing goals mentioned above, not the SEO goals.
And here is the crux of the newly proclaimed “SEO secret weapon” content marketing. Especially this long and arduous path via (content) marketing to the hoped-for backlinks is all too glad to be kept secret by SEO agencies. People wish to trivialize here according to the motto: “You have to publish good content, then the links will come by themselves”.
Selling content marketing as link building / SEO is not the way to go
As the above explanations show, content marketing is not primarily about backlinks and therefore not primarily about SEO or link building and besides SEOs, a whole bunch of other people are decisively involved in the process.
You sell good content marketing under value if you only define backlinks or link building as a destination. Content marketing is marketing or corporate communication and pursues long-term goals such as market positioning. Development of an own communication system and customer loyalty. It doesn’t have a search engine optimization as its primary job. It causes so much more and therefore has to be budgeted accordingly.
SEOs are now showing that content should not be created for search engines, but for people. So what does that essentially have to do with search engine optimization? When content marketing is viewed as a means of building links, my toenails roll up and it shows me that many colleagues may have understood the theory. But nothing more. Only in the past 12 months I have already spoken enough about that in the articles mentioned above…
Taking the previous costs per acquired link on SEO of an average of 150 – 600 € and comparing these costs with the backlinks that are generated via content marketing, these are significantly higher, especially in the beginning. In fact, it will frequently happen that content marketing campaigns do not generate a backlink at all. And that’s ok too. Because if it is easily done, properly planned and advertised, the content still fulfills its main purpose.
From an SEO perspective, one or the other content marketing campaign may be a bust. A marketing advantage We have seen this often enough.
Link building should never be considered as the sole goal of content marketing. Otherwise disappointment and disillusionment are inevitable. Here are the most significant reasons why I think that it is not expedient to see content marketing as the “new SEO” or alternative to link building.
- In terms of backlinks, content marketing can be planned, but is not predictable and therefore not scalable
- Link building budgets do not take marketing goals into account and are therefore too small for successful content marketing
- Backlinks are only a partial goal of content marketing
- The cost per link in content marketing is significantly higher than in link building and only makes content marketing unprofitable from an SEO perspective
Good content marketing can lead to links. But it doesn’t have to be!
What it definitely has to do is communicate with the marketplace. So, primarily to potential clients, but also editors, competitors, potential employees, bloggers… That’s why …
My appeal to the SEO agencies:
Doesn’t sell content marketing as the “New SEO” or as a link building tool. You will not make the necessary budget pots to implement a content marketing professionally. It’s about marketing and corporate communication! Does the topic also address this …
My appeal to companies:
Please do not see content marketing as a replacement product for link building. Content marketing is not a search engine optimization. Content marketing strengthens your brand , positions you on the market in your topics and can also provide backlinks. So, plan marketing budgets and ask yourself the following questions about your goals:
- What do I want to achieve?
- Exclusively findability in Google & Co. > Then do search engine optimization (SEO) and take care in particular of the technical infrastructure, keyword and topic research, information structure, your content on your own website and focused scalable link building measures.
- Building a brand, market positioning and own communication channels and, in the long term, easier to find on Google & Co. > Then do content marketing, but with a corresponding marketing budget.