Historic SEO
The last 10 years have seen dramatic changes in SEO strategies as maturing technology has produced increasingly more complex and sophisticated actions by search engines. Historic SEO was all about link building to your site to increase search rank. Reciprocal links—“you-link-to-me-I’ll-link-to-you”–was a thriving SEO practice until Google stepped in around 2006. Article Marketing and Web 2.0 marketing became the link building of choice and thrived until Google declared that a high-quality site was needed for top ranking. This began the era of a more balanced approach, pairing a high-quality site with active link building.

The balanced approach pretty much defined SEO practices until 2011 and 2012 when Google updated their algorithms (Panda and Penguin) and the landscape of SEO changed again–dramatically. Nate describes the shift: “Google was getting way smarter than we could ever possibly imagine, the algorithms becoming more and more complex to the point where trying to force our way to the top of the search rankings relatively easily was now becoming harder. The core principles of SEO really haven’t changed a lot, it’s all the tricks of the trade that have come and gone, and fewer tricks are going to work the further along we get.”

Google-Panda-penaltyPost-Panda & Future SEO

So gone are the “tricks” of manufactured and reciprocal links, article marketing, Web 2.0 marketing, buying expired domain names, blog networks, and other manipulative tactics. Traditional SEO practices have given way to a more organic approach, with SEO ranking becoming more dependent on site content, user experience, engagement, and sharing. Today’s SEO strategy is based on:

  • evaluating usability metrics
  • on-site SEO
  • well-structured website
  • effective blogging
  • acquiring Author Rank by using Google+
  • getting high-quality links to the website
  • valuable, conductive content
  • user intent

A content marketing strategy feeds all of those areas, definitely shaping and driving SEO. SEO apart from content marketing could be a hollow victory. Nicole explains: “If I send them a lot of traffic but their website’s not set up to capture leads, it’s not going to do much good. Or if they don’t have a backend marketing automation system set up, then just capturing a bunch of leads isn’t going to work either.“

Quality content is necessary across the entire marketing landscape to capture and motivate prospects and customers every time they engage with you.

ROI, Content Marketing & SEO

The all-important ROI measurement can be realized from a coordinated content marketing strategy and SEO initiative. Most business goals center around traffic, leads and sales, and measuring the progress in these areas will provide ROI data. While an SEO initiative may take time to mature, by tracking the sales cycle from first contact through to conversion, you’ll be able to see trends and potential future growth.

A content marketing strategy integrated with social media will dramatically increase traffic and leads. And, as mentioned above, with necessary conversion elements in place, more leads will become sales. Google Analytics gives the ability to track most elements of the content marketing lifecycle. This is important so you can see metrics throughout and know what is working and what may need to be reevaluated to better drive customer action.

So, is content marketing the future of SEO? Absolutely. Nate says, “Everything you need for SEO comes down to content. You need great content on your website to rank for anything. So your content strategy can accomplish so many goals—it can accomplish a lot of SEO goals, and other marketing, branding, and lead generation and lead nurturing. It can all be accomplished with one coordinated and cohesive content marketing strategy.”

Join the Conversation:

  • Have you made any effort to learn about Author Rank by Google+ yet?
  • Can you identify specific elements in your SEO strategy that need to be updated to keep pace with search ranking practices of today?
  • Do you have a content marketing lifecycle strategy working in conjunction with your SEO efforts?
This article highlights selected excerpts from CMX’s interview with Nicole Munoz, Nate Dame and Martin van der Roest on Content Marketing and the Future of SEO, May 1, 2013.