Why Content Marketing IS SEO

The other day we read a blog post addressing the surge in interest in content marketing as an add-on strategy for websites trying to rank for highly competitive search terms.

Said blog post compared content marketing to social media marketing as a way to boost engagement and generate brand awareness. It was well written, but we’d like to argue that content marketing is NOT just an add-on anymore. There was once a time when creating extremely high quality content and distributing it was a good secondary or tertiary strategy if you could afford it, but those days are gone.

Today, it should be the FIRST thing you do, not after the rest but before. You need quality content on your site from day one and it needs to be regularly updated and built up. Content marketing IS SEO now and here’s why.

1. Google Is Getting Smarter

It used to be that when Google’s spiders looked at a website, they saw a lot of 0’s and 1’s and were able to parse those are indicators of what a site was about. Outside factors were needed to determine if the site was a useful tool in that niche.

It worked well until SEO’s learned how to manipulate those outside factors. So, Google started beefing up its algorithm. Today, with each passing Panda, Penguin or Caffeine update, the algorithms learn better whether the actual content on your site is any good. Is it unique? Does it offer something more than your competitors? Will people enjoy reading or watching it? Even when you still have no traffic, Google can see good content and will reward you for it.

2. Engagement and Social Cues Matter

Google measures and rewards those sites that have high levels of engagement on social networks (possibly too much). They purchase data from Twitter and LinkedIn and use their own Google+ network to see how often a link is shared, how much content from your site spreads outside of core search and whether people are both sharing and talking about it.

Only good content gets this kind of attention.

3. Return Visitors and Time on Site Matter

With it’s own web browser (Chrome) and a mobile platform (Android), Google has HUGE volumes of browsing data to sort through. This allows them to see how long people spend on your site and how often your site ends search. Do people stop searching when they land on your page?

Is the content so good that people cannot help but stay on your site and learn more about what you have to offer? If the answer is yes, then you’re going to move up in search engines.

The problem with the new brand of SEO is that it cannot be measured and quantified like the old. Before, you knew you needed X number of high PR back links. Today, you need a “lot” of good content. This is both good for regular people starting sites and bad for those used to quantifiable checklists. If you are among the latter, take a deep breath and start looking at your site a little differently because SEO is as content game and that’s not about to change any time soon.