As the old mantra goes, when walking through the countryside “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.” In the online world, the concept of leaving footprints is much the same – there are positive and negative trails we can leave in our wake and we need to manage what we leave behind and how this will impact our place in the business environment.
There has been much debate of late surrounding the digital footprints many businesses are carefully cultivating, in terms of SEO and content marketing. Is SEO dead? Is content marketing the future? Are the two really that separate from each other?
This blog post looks at the roles of content marketing and SEO, discussing how both can work harmoniously to create a ‘trail’ of your brand’s identity throughout the web, increasing your traffic, propagation and overall audience reach.
SEO practitioners have been promoting the benefits of fresh on-site content for years. Regularly updating the content on your site makes your website come alive – giving the spiders and Google-bots something new to look at when they trawl. However, sticking to the confines of your own URL no longer cuts the mustard.
We need to start leaving trails of our content further afield. This includes other blog sites, contributing to forums, creating e-books, white papers, videos – anything we can post on other platforms and enable our supporters and influencers to share. One thing to remember though is not to duplicate… This will only damage your SEO efforts.
So yes, content is King, but it still needs to be found, which is where SEO comes in. Great content will create engagement, encourage sharing and ultimately drive traffic, but used correctly it will also attribute to your SEO endeavours and aid your rankings.
Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing (insert the same phrase in your content again, and again, and again…) but it is still important to have a keyword strategy and to ensure that this informs your content as much as it informs your SEO work.
Research into your keywords. They do not have to be individual words, they could be phrases (known as long tail keywords) which people use to search for your product or service, but they have to be what other people use. For example, your Opticians business might offer ‘sight tests’ but if everyone else refers to them as ‘eye tests’ you need to consider changing this to align to your customers’ way of searching.
Once you have established your keywords, then ensure they are used throughout all of your content marketing. Don’t simply tow the party line on your website and then use completely different language when writing your off-site content. Again, don’t keyword stuff, but do be aware of your brand’s language and keep a consistency in your language throughout all your communications.
Having fresh content is great. Having keyword strategies are great. But do people find their way to your site? Just like having a name badge on your picnic basket when walking in the coutryside, when you’re leaving a trail across the internet you need to direct people where to go and return them to your site. The whole purpose of your content marketing and SEO efforts is ultimately to sell your products and services – be it directly or indirectly. So don’t waste opportunities by forgetting to link to your site.
Again, this is where content and SEO work hand in hand. Google is placing more and more emphasis on inbound links, so ensuring that your content has relevant links back to your site will not only direct readers, but will also give you another tick on the SEO checklist.
We all know word of mouth is quite possibly one of the best forms of marketing out there. So tie this in with your content marketing. Spread your digital footprint wider by calling upon brand advocates and influencers to share, mention or even host your content. Yes, this will help SEO, but it will also help your brand build credibility if you’re being shared and referred to by highly regarded people in your industry.
5. Best practice
The majority of businesses have document after document looking at policy, procedure and best practice. However when it comes to any content marketing which falls ‘beyond’ the realms of the company website or Twitter profile, there can often be a rather laissez-faire attitude.
Consistency is key when laying your online trail. Just as your physical footprint in the countryside would never differ, so too must your online footprint remain consistent, so your customers and clients can ‘track’ you if they need to.
All those responsible for content must know the keyword strategy and be actively promoting it, including keywords and phrases in their copy. This goes beyond tone of voice – it is about understanding the ultimate online strategy of your company and ensuring that every piece of content, great or small, goes some way to achieving the goals laid out in that strategy.
Looking back through the points above, there is great synergy between content marketing and SEO marketing. Applying these online techniques in isolation will not generate as great a return as it would combining them. Both need each other to succeed.
So don’t be afraid of littering the virtual landscape – leave your footprints, allow people to track your brand – just ensure the pieces you do leave are clear and consistent!