Content marketing and link building both have their merits in the realm of search marketing. However, the tale of the tape reveals that content marketing has a distinct advantage over link building for marketers. Here are seven reasons why.
1. You Can Measure the Value of Content Easier Than you Can a Link
I often get asked by clients how much is a link worth? By this they mean what value is it giving to a site? Of course, this is very difficult to quantify. Even if it is contributing towards an increase in rankings or traffic, how do you put a value on of this in terms how much of a contribution it is having without considering other factors?
Alternatively, if you create a piece of content for a site, you will know how many links that content has generated, how many social votes it has, how many referral visits it’s got, how much organic search traffic it’s created and which search terms achieved rankings etc.
And more importantly, how much revenue has that content generated you? With content, you can provide a client with that answer (e.g., one days worth of effort on content creation has generated you $x,000 is so much easier for a CMO to quantify than the same on link building which “has helped towards increasing our rankings”).
2. It’s Natural
You are writing content and naturally generating links as a result of writing great content. People are choosing to blog about it, share it socially, and generally create a buzz because it’s interesting to them!
Compare this with competitor analysis or submission based link building – there’s a common trend there which shows that these websites are not linking to you because they like you, they’re linking to you because you asked them to (or even paid them to).
3. Good Content Writers are Cheaper than Good Link Builders
Hiring good SEOs is hard. Link builders in particular.
However, hiring a good copywriter really isn’t that difficult. There are lots of people out there with strong copywriting skills – you just need to identify the creative ones who are good at blogging and generating social attention.
4. It’s More Scalable
Building a strong SEO team really isn’t easy. You either:
- Have to get in people with experience, paying a premium for this and have to hope they are as good as they seemed in the interview.
- Take on people with limited experience and accept that it’s going to take you a minimum of 12 months to get them close to where you want them to be.
- Get it wrong – in which case you need to realise you got it wrong quickly!
So scaling a content team becomes a much easier task because copywriters are cheaper, they’re easier to find and they’re more replaceable – so while you obviously want to retain them, it doesn’t set you back too far if they leave. Plus you can mix the skills you have in your team as it grows, so don’t just hire bloggers – hire video producers, infographic designers, and community managers.
To move forward, it’s vital you hire the right people – and building a content team is much less of a risk than building an SEO team is ever likely to be.
5. It’s More Defensible to Algorithm Updates
Anyone who’s suffered from a Penguin or Panda attack will tell you Google loves brands. So what do you do if you’ve been hit by either of these? Easy, you build a brand!
The days of chasing Google’s algorithm, and finding the next quick fix or SEO tactic, are disappearing quickly. So instead of focusing on whatever type of link hasn’t been hit by a penalty yet – make content marketing the center of your SEO strategy instead.
You’re likely to see much greater rewards this way and it’s long-term. So you’ll be the one looking forward to Google’s next algorithm update, instead of being the one scared if you’ve been caught out and worrying that your whole business model has to be re-visited!
6. Authoritative Writers Are The Future
Social media is all about people – if you want to assess a company's social strategy, it’s not just about a brand or fan page – it’s about the people who work there, too.
This is where Google+ authorship comes in. Google wants to know about the people who write on websites and blogs – and if they know this they will have more trust in you. If you write frequently for authoritative sources and you’ve built a strong social footprint, they’ll like you even more!
So set up Google authorship and encourage social promotion around your content from your authors and bloggers.
7. It’s More Fun
Who wants to dig through thousands of rows full of Excel data to try and replicate links or sit for hours on end submitting to directories or article sites?
And who wants to write creative content and be social online, building up connections to help you share that content?
I’m sure some people who are very good at both. But I know which one I’d rather do – and I think I know which strategy Google’s algorithm prefers!