Avoiding Content Marketing Spam: Content & SEO Culture, Process, Ownership

Earlier this year I wrote about how to scale content efficiently in your organization. In that post I pointed to three important elements of content that often go unmissed – culture, process, and ownership. As content production and publication statistics rise in 2015, just how do successful business stand out from the crowd and scale efficiently?

We are entering the season of content and SEO prediction, forecast, and theory, yet many businesses still do not understand that content quantity for SEO does not always equate to long-term brand health and that “without culture, process, ownership, and accountability content scale will fail.”

Be Aware of Creating Content Spam

Go as back as 2012 and you will see that as the SEO market changed, and content marketing became a focal point, Google change drove many SEO professionals to rethink their marketing strategies and shift to content production. However, becoming a content marketer requires much more than simply changing your job title from SEO to content on LinkedIn.

Many organizations view content marketing as a predecessor to old-school SEO and “content spamming” is becoming the new norm for some.

The production of content for quick-ranking wins, a spike in traffic, a low-quality lead, and inter-departmental wins (*see who owns content) not only has short-term results, but long-term consequences for your brand such as:

  • Loss of brand vision and message (mature vs. off-brand immature content)
  • Loss of control of key product/marketing messaging and positioning
  • Low-quality leads and opportunities – false positive reporting and diminishing returns
  • Long-term loss – Panda penalties
  • Disparity across the organization – conflicts on ownership

Think back to the old days of black hat SEO where search engines could be “technically gamed” and short-term wins would be the norm. Content spam could be viewed similarly with “content spam” being the “technically gamed.”

Neil Patel from Kissmetrics explains more about the balance between technical SEO and content in this article here.

Taking Control of Content in 2015

In order for content marketing to truly succeed in any organization, culture and process have to made predecessors to scale. SEO is critical to the creation, optimization, distribution, and success of content. However, that does not mean that SEO should define your content strategy.

seo-not-content

The long-term risks of an over-bearing focus on SEO far outweigh the short-term gain. Successful organizations ensure that this message is deeply engrained in their content cultures.

Culture and Collaboration

Smart businesses build strong content cultures and without a culture of content businesses produce hectic, reactive, hub-and-spoke content that often falls short of the mark in terms of aims and objectives.

culture-of-content

Altimeter recently produced a whitepaper on this topic and defines a culture of content as:

“A culture of content exists when the importance of content is evangelized enterprise-wide, creation and creativity are encouraged, and content flows up and downstream, as well as across various divisions.”

Without an established culture of content organizations often fail to align SEO direction with content types/streams and goals such as:

  • Branding and company vision
  • Company and present vs. future market positioning
  • Product positioning
  • Interdepartmental goals – Content for sales, customer service, marketing, and PR

Setting the right culture of content not only helps align SEO and content marketing initiatives, but also acts a surefire catalyst to growth and scale.

Process

From strong content culture comes process. Content can fall flat without a rigid process in place for content creation, production, and distribution. Establishing a content culture, defining content streams and types, and implementing process ensures that content hits all your organization goals.

Recent research from the CMI highlights the fact that B2B content marketing requires multiple content strategies and multiple owners. Hence, when you plan your content and SEO strategies, multiple approaches to content creation and optimization are needed.

Process is where strategy and tactics unite and it is where multiple content strategies and SEO tactics can be set and defined. The key to success lies in mastering the basics.

content-marketing-diagram

Diagram source.

Ownership – SEO Is Not Content Marketing and Content Marketing Is Not SEO

A process requires an owner and it is important that each part of your content marketing process has an owner. However, if you find yourself in a position where people are battling for full ownership of content, then you have a problem. No one department owns content – be that SEO, sales, customer service, and even marketing.

Before you map your 2015 content and SEO strategy, understand the different types of content that your organization needs, and have processes in place for authoring and production of different types of content. It is vital that you make your audience the primary focus, map your content to your sales and customer marketing funnels, and optimize accordingly.

Furthermore, avoid over-optimization of content and balance quantity with quality. Remember – every piece of content should carry a purpose beyond SEO. When content and SEO work hand in hand, the question of “who owns content” should never become an organizational headache.

Your brand owns content!

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