Two years ago, what was the buzzword? SEO. So what is this “content marketing” talk and how is content marketing different from good old fashion SEO? The line between the two is a difficult one to draw and even harder to understand. Before we get to the strict definition, let’s think about what has happened in the past two years that has brought the idea of content marketing to the forefront of digital marketing.
In April of 2012, Google shifted the playing field for digital marketing agencies by releasing the Penguin update for the Google Algorithm. This caused many backlinks that were obtained through questionable means to become blacklisted by Google. Naturally this update hurt more than hundreds of thousands of websites.
Gray hat SEO became black hat in this massacre, but some agencies adapted quickly to Penguin, finding that content marketing was more effective (although more difficult) than simple SEO. Thus, content marketing truly came into being as a necessary activity for great digital marketing results in response to the decreased effectiveness of former SEO methods.
After looking at this progression and the development of content marketing, it makes sense that there is some overlap between SEO and content marketing. Now let’s take a look at a narrow definition of these two concepts:
SEO tries to be very efficient in creating backlinks that are specific to usually a single keyword. For instance, posting an article with a near 2% density of a keyword to a blog that links back to the primary website. Now before Penguin, this article would be “spun” (run through a program that would auto-insert synonyms for words and generate dozens if not hundreds of seemingly “unique” articles) and copies would be distributed all over the web and create a backlink each time.
As you can see, SEO doesn’t give much weight to quality articles, since spun articles read like gibberish. However, all they wanted was the backlink and who cares if no one ever reads the article. This is not to say that SEO does not have a place in today’s digital marketing world. On-page SEO is still extremely valuable and finding good targeted keywords to focus on is legitimate as well as necessary.
Content Marketing really takes things a step further. Content marketing is about putting quality content out on the web that is actually valuable to the community. You want as many people as possible to enjoy and take something of value from your content. If the content is truly valuable, users will spread that content for you by sharing it with their friends or re-posting it.
Furthermore it’s about brand recognition and becoming an authority in your field. This concept, when used in conjunction with the good parts of SEO, makes for a killer combo. Posting a valuable article with a little bit of keyword focus is the most effective way to promote your authority on the topic.
The big difference here is obviously quality over quantity. This is what Google wants going into the future. As they refine the Google algorithm there will be less and less spammy articles out on the web and quality content will reign supreme. A digital marketing agency that doesn’t try to cut corners has nothing to fear from the Google algorithm.
If you are a client of a digital marketing agency, ask your SEO company the right questions to ensure they are marketing your quality content in a way that won’t get you blacklisted by Google.
As long as you work within Google’s vision of populating the web with exceptional and authoritative content then you can rest assured that Google will never punish your content.