Why is it that the SEO industry is constantly looking for something, anything to save it from itself? Why is the sky always falling?
Why do we always doubt our methods? Even if our methods are ethical and effective, we're still always looking for something new, something better and more noble than lowly SEO. What is wrong with us?
Is it because we can't take the heat from the naysayers? Is it because we're nomads and we can't stay in one place for too long? Are we that insecure? Is it that we constantly need to experiment and develop new ideas? I'd say the answer is ‘yes' to all of those questions.
The real reason we're always looking to rename what we do, though, is that we're never satisfied with what we have.
Content marketing is the perfect example.
Age of Discontent
Our industry is going through a rough patch. SEO professionals are quick to put themselves down, and they're even quicker to put others down.
Even when two SEO professionals use the exact same strategies, they'll simply call what they're doing by another name to separate themselves from the pack. Or they'll add another strategy to their SEO playbook and announce that they're better than the next guy.
SEO is SEO and link building is link building. SEO is not content marketing and link building is not relationship building (I'm also sick to death of "relationship building").
I'm not saying that content marketing doesn't have its place, because it does.
But the goal of SEO is to boost traffic and conversion through higher search engine rankings, which results in more money coming in. SEO means boosting search rankings.
Content marketing is about getting your name out there and getting clicks, resulting in new leads and more money. It's not about search rankings.
An SEO practitioner, therefore, isn't a content marketer. And a content marketer isn't an SEO practitioner.
And I'm sick to death of SEO professionals despising themselves into becoming something "more" than someone who just does SEO. Being an SEO pro is awesome!
We should love that we don't have to stoop to the level of content marketing because we don't need it. We get our leads from the search engines because we're badass SEO professionals!
The Overlap Zone
Sure, there is some overlap between link building, SEO, and content marketing.
In any given content marketing-driven guest post, you'll probably get a great link for your company. That should be one of the goals of your content. It will probably be a branded link, though, and the content itself will directly promote your company or your values. That's all fine and good, but that's not the same as link building.
Great link building guest posts, similarly, can boast some of the same qualities as content marketing. It's great content that happens to include a link.
A link building guest post, though, is much more diverse – it's not just trying to get a name out there and increase brand visibility. It's valuable content, for sure, but it doesn't exist just for branding purposes.
The perfect link building guest post makes the reader want to click through to the link in the bio. The perfect content marketing guest post contains a great link that boosts search rankings. Neither one of those things is reliable, and therefore they serve different purposes – but there is some overlap.
SEO vs. Content Marketing
What you're reading right now is a piece of content marketing. I'm writing on behalf of my company, not for the link, but because I want you to associate my opinion with my company.
If you agree or like what I have to say, you'll remember my name or click the link in my bio. If I make you angry enough you'll remember my name and/or click the link in my bio.
I'm not doing this to increase my company's search rankings. I am a link builder, but this is a pure content marketing effort.
See? SEO and content marketing can cross over sometimes, but I'm not a content marketer. I'm a link builder.
Let's take a look at the differences:
- SEO, link building in particular, aims to increase traffic and conversions to websites through higher search rankings. Higher search rankings make sites more visible in the SERPs, generate more traffic and generate more income.
- Content marketing exists to build up brands. It makes them more visible on the Internet, but not through search rankings. Content marketing is about name recognition.
- Proper link building uses various kinds of links on relevant websites to boost search rankings. These links should be placed on websites that are relevant to your niche, that real humans browse, and any content surrounding the link should be high quality, relevant and created by humans. Link building can take many forms, such as resource links and guest posting. It is more about the link itself than self-promotion. But link building is about the links and the effect of those links on the SERPs.
- Content marketing also takes a human approach, but it is limited to content. Infographics, video, and blog posts can all be used for content marketing. The content must be high quality and discuss your brand's industry, and it might discuss your brand directly. It is about self-promotion, not a hyperlink (and subsequent search ranking increase).
- The results of any good SEO effort are increased search rankings – the first page of Google. People who aren't familiar with your brand are going to find you listed for your keywords and click on through. That equals conversions, which equal money.
- The result of any good content marketing effort is brand awareness. The next time a consumer thinks of your industry, hopefully they'll think of you first when they go to make a purchase. They also might click through directly from your content. Conversions from the content means more money.
Be Proud of What You Do
Before you assail me for being a hater, remember that I'm engaging in content marketing right now, I love the stuff.
What I do hate is the fact that so many SEO professionals are trying to rebrand themselves or overextend themselves because SEO is a dirty word to some people. Let's have some pride!
I'm a link builder. Some of you are SEO pros as well. SEO is just part of any brand's marketing strategy, but that's what we specialize in.
We need to concentrate on building great links and optimizing web pages because we're doing great work. We don't need to rebrand ourselves and we don't need to stop building links.
SEO isn't content marketing and content marketing isn't SEO. There's some potentially great crossover there, but one is not a replacement for the other.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!