The New SEO of Content Marketing

SEO of content marketingMy friend Karol, a nutritionist, often threatens to write a book on “How to Lose Weight.”

She said it will be one page. “Eat less and exercise more.”

On that note, I could write a one-page book on SEO. “Write awesome content.”

Over-simplification? On both counts, yes. But a very good start.

You still need to know things like what foods to avoid and which ones are better for you. How much exercise and where to start? What type of exercise is right for you

When it comes to SEO, what constitutes awesome content? How will it get found? How does it grow my bottom line?

I tell people I meet I’m an integrated communications professional and no one knows what that means. Not very good marketing coming from a marketing professional and I get that. I’m not yet sure what to do about that part other than to keep talking and explain I help clients get found mostly online, but we integrate traditional marketing where needed. In other words, we help our clients connect with audiences online to grow business.

We use communications to attract via blog and article content, engage via social network updates and sharing, and nurture via email content, and sell via optimized conversion funnels.

If our content isn’t optimized to be found by the right people at the right time, that stuff is as good as the tree we saved by not using paper, that falls in the forest that no one hears.

As communication professionals, or content creators in your own business, we must understand the principles of SEO because producing great content alone is just the start.

Content marketing is the new SEO because the search engine algorithms are getting smarter and smarter. Google focuses on delivering relevant results to searchers. Keyword stuffed sites, backlinks from directories and other illegitimate link building techniques no longer work and to the contrary have actually penalized those sites who have engaged in that kind of practice.

The Very Basics of SEO

  1. Produce great content that helps prospects and customers solve their problems and decide to buy from you.
  2. Optimize that content for the target keyphrase and use something like the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin to get your meta tags and descriptions right.
  3. Make it share-able.
  4. Get backlinks via social shares, guest posts and earned media.

Take your SEO to the next level with an SEO agency.

There is so much more to know when it comes to good SEO. I follow people like Andy Crestodina and Sean McGinnis who are both super smart when it comes to good, ethical SEO strategies that improve find-ability. There is a ton of technical stuff like the rel=author link, eliminating duplicate content with canonical links, and I could go on and on if I actually knew, but that’s when I bring in the big guns to help with that stuff. Whatever we can do to help Google crawl and understand your content better, the better it is for you.

How to differentiate the good SEO from the bad. 

I spent some time with a prospective client last week and reviewed a proposal they had received from an SEO agency who will go un-named. Call me a naive Pollyanna but I was dismayed to see a line item in there for:

  • We will add 10 five-star reviews to your profiles per month.
  • We will build backlinks on online directories. (There were specific numbers but I don’t remember.)

Not only that, but they filled the proposal with many redundancies and a great deal of technical stuff no one would understand.

That’s the bad. I wanted to cry when I saw that part about the reviews. My husband, playing devil’s advocate countered, “If that’s what businesses have to do to compete, then why not?”

He has a point. Businesses feel that’s what they have to do. But they will get caught. Maybe not immediately but eventually. Just like the sites who have been penalized for unethical SEO tactics in the past decade, the review site owners are working to figure this out, and you will get penalized.

And this is where I go back to just producing good content that gets shared, and linked to. Do really good work that naturally produces 10 five-star reviews per month. Ask your readers to share. Ask to guest blog. Ask for reviews. Take it to the next level by hiring some smart to help you or inform yourself.

I’m really looking forward to discussing this topic further at the Vocus Demand Success Conference in Washington, DC in June. Who will I see there?

And can do you have any questions? What did I leave out?


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  • Keith Davis

    Hi Lisa

    “On that note, I could write a one-page book on SEO. “Write awesome content.””

    Sounds good to me.

    I attempt to write awesome content then I check ouit title tags, h1, h2 headings etc and I add meta tags – I also add alt text to images and that’s about it.

    Once the content is out there I shout about it on social sites but it all starts with awesome and useful content.

    • Lisa Gerber

      Hey Keith!

      That’s exactly what I do.
      Does it work well for you?
      And now I’ve dug in a bit deeper and signed up for a free trial on SEOMoz and discovered a bunch of duplicate content errors I’m trying to fix. So there is always some thing more to do. :) never ending. Thanks for the comment.

      • Keith Davis

        I learnt all my SEO from the SEOMoz free guides and Whiteboard Friday videos.

        Does it work for me?

        Google “public speaking humour” and see who is #1 out of over 2 million!!

        • Lisa Gerber

          Keith!!! I love that. commented over there but wanted to also say I actually wrote just last week about using principles of stand-up comedy in your presentations. :)
          SEOMoz is an amazing resource.

          • Keith Davis

            Thanks for your comment Lisa and agree with you about SEOMoz.

  • Ken Mueller

    it’s so simple, and yet so many try to pull the wool over our eyes. and many fall for it. so sad.

    • Lisa Gerber

      Like car mechanics. they take advantage of those who don’t understand. :(

  • Ifdy Perez

    Great starting point for the SEO-novice! I don’t use Yoast, however. I looked into that and ScribeSEO recently and went with the latter. Do you have a preference of one over the other?

    • Lisa Gerber

      Scribe SEO – we used to have that on Spin Sucks. It’s great too. For clients in particular, I like Yoast because it has the red yellow and green light. I tell them they have to have green lights every time, dammit!
      But I also like it because it helps with canonical links to eliminate duplicate content and it automatically does the rel=author link.
      Does scribe? Why did you go with Scribe instead? Been awhile since I’ve used it so I don’t know.

      • Ifdy Perez

        I’m a loser cuz I just talked to you, and I didn’t respond to your comment back. 😀 I went with Scribe because I like how it analyzes the page and the whole site all at once. They upgraded not too long ago, so the new features lets you figure out where you want to position your content with certain terms, gives you actual practical suggestions on how to get your score up, and gives you that good meta preview on how your page shows up in search. One thing I saw that I didn’t like about Yoast was that it wouldn’t give you suggestions for keywords; you’d have to search for them and then they’d score you. Not sure if this is something I misunderstood when I was researching them, but I ended up with what I knew: Scribe. :)

  • Jason Konopinski

    Starting with a content value test (did I learn, did I laugh, did I love it?) *while* you’re creating some piece of content is always a good idea, IMO.

    I think believe it is the professional responsibility of every person tasked with creating content to have a strong working knowledge of how SEO works. “Writing epic sh&t” is a great rallying cry to produce information-rich and relevant content, but it does little to actually provide a roadmap for *how* to do that.

    You have to balance writing for robots & writing for people. Full stop. Leaning too far in either direction is going to be less than effective.

    • Lisa Gerber

      Hey Jason – right – it’s the starting point. As communications professionals, we HAVE to understand the technical stuff to get that good stuff found.

      • Jason Konopinski

        Absolutely, yes! Anyone who believes that “SEO will just take care of itself” is sorely, sorely mistaken.

  • Mighty Zombie

    I’m so tired of blog posts like this. First off the blog itself is about writing great content which is flawed because this type of content has been re-done over and over and there is nothing new here. Everyone says “just write great content” like it’s easy if everyone just writes great content won’t all of our content just be mediocre at best? And third if content marketing is the major focus of SEO we are in trouble, the big brands have all the resources to produce high quality content over and over while the small businesses will struggle with creating one meaningful piece every few months.

    I’m not saying content isn’t important and clearly I see the importance hell Google talks about it everyday “create great content, that’s all we care about” and yet the sites with the great content don’t rank as well as the sites who generate a ton of links. I’ll start saying content is the most important when Google stops ranking people based off of links alone.

    • Lisa Gerber

      Hi Jay,
      Thanks for the “two cents.” If you’re so tired of these, I wonder why you stuck around to comment?
      I didn’t say “just write great content.” I said it *starts* with great content. I went on to talk about backlinks, and taking it up a notch with rel=author and canonical links and much more if you read the entire post.
      Dissenting opinions are welcome here. So are respect and civility. You make a choice to come here and read this content or not. It’s new to my reading audience who doesn’t monitor the blogosphere daily.
      Thanks again.