Content, Not Keywords: The New SEO Paradigm

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ADOTAS — The best way to serve your business is to serve your customers well – and content is no different. Keywords no longer guarantee top search rankings. Today, it is superb, consistent content that is of service to your customers that leads to top search rankings.



Do you want to improve your site’s search rankings? Consider the following: Google and Bing both prioritize customer experience in their algorithms. While Google has been uncharacteristically mum about recent changes to Panda,  they are telling brands that Google is focused on content rather than keywords, and customer experience may determine whether your site’s ranking sinks or swims.

Bing takes it a step further by prioritizing social interactions and mentions, essentially allowing the social sphere to “vote” on the value of your brand (with your website’s rank to follow).

How does content marketing play into the new SEO paradigm?

  • Social: Content strategy comes before your social media strategy. When you execute your social strategy properly, you’ll achieve engagement in the forms of comments, shares, and contributions – and the search engines will take notice.
  • SEO: Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content. Don’t deploy inbound linking strategies or build a site that is several thousand pages deep; instead create a user experience that gives your customers exactly what they are looking for.
  • PPC: You need great content for Pay Per Click advertising to work. It takes more than lots of impressions – you need to create AN IMPRESSION.
  • Inbound marketing: Content is key to driving inbound traffic and leads. Your content must draw consumers to your site and give them a compelling reason to engage with your brand.

It’s exactly as hard as you think it is.

SEO trickery and self-serving advertising blitzes used to work. Today, in order to succeed with content marketing, marketers must be creative, curious, skilled, analytically-oriented, and flexible. It goes beyond understanding your brand, which can be a tall order for complex organizations with nebulous differentiators.  You must understand your audience.

The challenge that many marketing organizations face is that they are expected to adapt to this shift in marketing strategy using their same teams, programs, metrics, and tools. This is a good time to question everything that you are doing, strip your marketing program bare, and re-evaluate the skillsets that are needed to help your brand thrive in a content culture.

And you need to do all of that while keeping your existing marketing programs functioning. It’s not easy — but it’s important.

How do you do it?

1. Go to the gorillas. Take advantage of what your audience is doing naturally. Your goal is to present your brand to your customers and create a real and valuable connection and you will be more successful if you go to the places they hang out. Diane Fossey didn’t require the gorillas to come to her lab – she went to the gorillas.

The average consumer is on at least 2 devices at any given time, and they are constantly refreshing content. Your tweet has a 13-minute life span. Your challenge is to understand where and when customers want to hear from you – and then be there. Create user personas that include content consumption patterns, and then test those patterns. Eventually you will zero in on the right audience, the right time, and the right message.

Social media provides an exceptional platform to listen to conversations and test ideas. Whether you have been on social since MySpace, or you are just getting into the game (you are late, by the way), you should approach social as a participant in a conversation. Listen. Listen. Listen. There are conversations that would benefit from your brand’s engagement, so you should join in. You don’t need to create every conversation from scratch, and you shouldn’t use every conversation as an opportunity to pitch or sell.

2. Communicate without selling. Your content should resonate on a personal level with your audience, and should focus less on the brand attributes and more on what your customer can do with it. Red Bull doesn’t tell stories about sucrose and glucose – Red Bull tells stories about sky diving from outer space. Stop listing features.

3. Deliver consistent, ongoing, and valuable information to customers if you want them to reward you with their business and loyalty. For example, when Pinterest announced that they are going to offer sponsored posts, one of the first assurances given to users was that the site wouldn’t be overrun by banners, and the ads would be relevant. Advertising – the bastion of selling – is even being required to tone it down and serve up value.

4. Produce great content. Someone who can write really well and is given the freedom to produce content that responds to and supports the community is critical. Content rock stars can be found in unexpected places, so get to know the bright minds throughout your organization. Consider recruiting a passionate fan on one of your social channels. When you co-create with your audience, and let consumers tell the market who your brand is, magic can happen.

5. Start with one great idea and then squeeze everything you can out of it.

6. Customize the story based on the channel and the nuances of the channel’s users. Get creative with angles on the story and ways to invite engagement.

You will take excellent care of your customer by delivering a engagement-worthy experience across all of your marketing channels, including email, social media, web, tradeshows, advertising, white papers, infographics, and more. Those experiences are driven by a clear and meaningful story, as well as an authentic understanding of your customers and what moves them.

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