SEO

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I want to address a dilemma that a lot of SEOs and a lot of marketers face, and that is this sort of choice between, should I be doing, what should I be doing to move the needle on my search traffic?

Should I be doing kind of classic SEO agency techniques, the keyword targeting plus link building, which moves the needle? Or should I be thinking more broadly in terms of kind of a full content marketing spectrum?

I’ll describe these two and I’ll talk about why it’s so tough for these guys, we’re at this fork in the road.

In Link Building Land, right, we research some keywords to target, we know we want to go after those. Maybe we’ve already been assigned them by our boss, or our team, or our client if we’re doing consulting.

Then we try and go out and find potential opportunities to earn links, maybe we do a little bit of comparative analysis. We’ll run like a keyword difficulty tool, and look at how people who are ranking that keyword have done in terms of link metrics, versus how we’re doing. Maybe we’ll do a little bit of onpage optimization as well, but mostly it’s around this link opportunity stuff. Right?

I think a lot of folks in the classic SEO agency world do this, even today. It does work. Right? They go out, get those links. Maybe they do outreach, find competetive links, you know, find open link opportunities around the web, whatever it is that can move the needle on the links. It’s really about that push for direct outreach and direct link building, not kind of passively sitting back and letting the links hopefully roll in.

Then you move up in the rankings. Right? Slowly but steadily you will sort of move up, because links are still a big portion of the search engines algorithms.

Over time, if you are moving the needle on links more than your competition, chances are good that you will be able to outrank them assuming you’re doing other things right.

On the flip side, is the content marketing world. Right? Content Marketing Land, this is a very, very different approach. Right? We kind of take the broad view at the beginning of, who is that audience that I want to reach? Who are all the people in that audience group?

Then, what do they use? What channels to internet marketing company use to discover content, to share things, to influence one another and to be influenced, and to discover new stuff like the products, services, mission that I’m trying to fulfill or that I’m trying to sell them?

That could be things like Twitter and Facebook, it could be blogs that they read, it might be influencers that they follow on social networks or through email channels, or whatever it is.

Obviously it’s going to be a lot of Google searches, Google’s still quite a bit of the web’s traffic, maybe it’s Youtube. Right? People using video to find these things.

Then I’m going to take from this audience and where they are and what they’re doing, I want to create content that will appeal to my target, to my target audience, the people I’m directly trying to reach, and to their influencers. Right?

That might be a webinar, a video, a blog, a free tool, whatever it is. Now I’m going to go out and do influencer outreach, I’m going to do good, smart keyword targeting on Google. I’m going to promote my stuff on social. I’m going to reach out to my community, maybe through email, or directly.

Then I’m going to hope to get the results of a little bit of increased traffic, I’m going to hopefully grow my community. If I’m producing valuable content stuff more people will follow my social accounts, more people will subscribe to my email, more people will be personalized by the connections that they’ve got to me through Google, so that their Google search results will be biased in my favor.

I’ll move up a little in SEO because my domain authority hopefully grows some, and I get a few more links and referring traffic. Then I rinse and repeat this model over and over, until I feel like, “Hey, now I need to go target new audiences,” and I’m going to repeat this process all over again.

The challenge here is that, and I’ve seen this discussion happening in the SEO Agency world, and in fact I think it’s a very fair discussion to have. Right?

There’s folks who are kind of in Link Building Land who say, “This works for me. This doesn’t work for me.” Right? Because of, and you’ll hear all sorts of reasons why it doesn’t work for them. Maybe it’s who their client, or who their team, or what their product is, or who they’re trying to reach.

They say well, “They’re just not interested. They don’t do a lot of content consumption. They’re not influenced by social channels, and by Youtube, and by blogs, and by industry news, or trade shows and events, or whatever these things are that I can use to amplify my content. I’m not getting value from this, and so I’m going to stick to this. I get some links, I move up in the rankings, I get more visits for the key terms I’m going after, that turns into conversions. This is what I’m after.”

Actually, I think it’s OK.

That’s not actually the case. If this is working for you, I don’t have a problem with it. What I have a problem with is when people don’t think holistically, and don’t make the conscious choice, and simply stick to what they have been doing because they’ve seen it work in the past, and even if it’s not working as well, or if it keeps getting harder, or if something like Penguin comes along and penalizes a bunch of the tactics that you were using to get those links, you just stay on the treadmill. That’s where I think things get really dangerous.

I’ve got some ideas here about how you can choose. One of the things that I think you should be conscientious about is goals and metrics. Are your goals tied to broad marketing efforts? Are we trying to get lots of people aware of our brand, aware of our product? Are we trying to do some positioning? Are we trying to get people to change their minds about how they solve a problem, and come over to our world?

Or are we really, is our metric just are we ranking well? Are we getting traffic directly from Google for the rankings for the keywords that we care about? Are we converting them?

If that’s your whole goal and metric, maybe Link Building Land is the right way to go. Maybe this is a little bit broad.

Secondary, are you thinking long term or short term? In the long term, one of the things that I do worry about is, a lot of these tactics and a lot of Google’s algorithm has been getting more and more focused on things that are outside of just how many linked over domains do you have, and does the anchor text include your keywords, and is it pointing to a page that you’re targeting?

They’re getting a lot smarter. They’re using a ton more signals than they were just three or four years ago. They’re doing a lot more rich data options. Rich snippets, different types of results. The classic ten blue links, I think our team found that was like fifteen percent of search results, are ten blue links, and that’s it.

You know, that’s not a lot of opportunity even if you are moving up. Boy, you’ve got to be pretty hopeful that they stick with this model, and that the algorithm doesn’t change too much, and that links continue to be a huge powering force, and that nothing else overtakes those.

Multi-channel versus single. If search, in particular, search rankings on primary keyword targeted phrases, are really the only channel that’s producing any kind of results, and you don’t even see that in a multi-channel attribution that social, or that content, or email, or referring links, or something else,longtail searches or whatever, are having a positive influence, then Link Building Land looks a little more attractive and Content Marketing Land doesn’t.

Finally, if the breadth versus depth of your skillset that your team, your SEO Agency, your web marketing team is really around, “Hey, we’re good at this. You know, we haven’t quite figured out this stuff yet. We don’t have the people, the staff, the resources, the time, the energy, the buy-in from management to do these things.” Well then, I kind of understand going after Link Building Land.

I think that what’s important is that we have a conscious conversation and we understand the dichotomy and the different reasons we might choose one of these paths, not that we always pick one, or we always pick the other.

In fact, there might be times when you are in Content Marketing Land, and you’re right in here and doing some SEO agency side work, and you really move over to doing this cycle, a little bit continuously, because that’s the focus of your efforts right now.

It could be that you’re over here and you do some analysis, maybe you’re doing your analysis around your keyword targeting and you say, “Boy. We’ve got good links to our page, but our domain authority just doesn’t help us. We need a broader set of influencers, and of links, and of people using our stuff. We really need to boost our overall domain and brand awareness. Maybe we want to get into Content Marketing Land for a little while.”

This choice is certainly up to you. I’m sure they’ll be a great discussion in the comments, and I look forward to that. Thanks for joining me. Take care.