In the not so distant past, the media as an industry served to create content. Magazines and newspapers, tv shows and trade journals, were created independently and with little to no consideration for the advertising that would run alongside the content. Advertising existed as a separate entity, sold off to companies to exist within or alongside the content that had been created, and mostly thought of as a way to pay the bills. This old media standard has greatly waned in popularity due to the fact that is just isn’t easy to make money with a pure advertising model anymore. So where does that leave us?
Today that old media is mostly gone and dead (sorry newspapers!) and the so-called age of “new media”, which really isn’t new anymore, is well and truly upon us. Boiled down, this means that content producers don’t just own the content, and advertisers don’t just own the advertising-more and more companies and businesses own both the content AND the advertising.
The Content Marketing Institute explains content marketing a bit more with this :
“Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.”
And if you still don’t know what that means-it can all be a bit tricky!-let’s go over it again. What is content marketing….really?
The question doesn’t have one simple answer because content marketing is many things all at once. It’s a way to build traffic to your site. It’s a tool for building engagement with your users. It’s the creation and sharing of content with your audience. And it’s the center of your social media, SEO and paid advertising strategies. Because while the focus of content marketing isn’t purely centred around sales or conversions, they are all connected to one another. And sales are a good and a very important thing, but at the risk of sounding overly naive and optimistic-I very strongly believe that they aren’t the most important thing.
Content marketing works because no matter what type of marketing you find yourself doing, the content is the most essential piece of the puzzle. And if you do SEO to the best of your ability, your content will be able to truly shine.
Having recently attended a talk on SEO and content marketing by Jon Norris (a good friend of mine) on how the two are connected, and how they can’t be successful without both threads being taken care of has led me to spend some time pondering these connections. How can we nurture both sides effectively? I particularly liked Jon’s summation that content strategy should include specific pillars, each receiving the same amount of effort and energy across the board. Those pillars are:
- Ideation-brainstorming and deciding what your content will be.
- Creation-the making of the content.
- Publication-putting that content out into the world.
- Promotion-blogging, social media, pr, ads…everything that puts it out there.
- Audience attraction-calls to action and opportunities to share and comment.
- Conversion-whether that converse is to sales or something else relevant to you.
But then, after the content is created and put out into the world, that is where SEO comes in. And SEO as an entity that exists on its own is nowhere near as helpful to your bottom line as SEO that is being used to bolster the heft of your business’ content. Along with this age of media that we’ve moved into, we’ve also moved into a new world of SEO, where the rules often change. But the bottom line is that SEO should be used to optimise your content, while never being made the primary consideration over the content itself. Keyword research, internal and external linking, and good old fashioned promotion should be all the help that your content needs to live a life of its own.
Once upon a time SEO was all about building dodgy links and knowing all the dirty tips and tricks. And now it’s not. Yay! Content comes out on top. But good content coupled with a cohesive SEO strategy? That’s a truly winning combination.