SEO Is Dead! Long Live Content Marketing For Canadian MSPs
Key Points in This Article:
- Businesses can no longer succeed using traditional SEO tactics like keyword stuffing, spinning content, and paid backlinks.
- Instead, businesses should consistently create and publish well-written, engaging, and relevant content.
- Some aspects of traditional SEO are still important, but improving search engine rankings starts with high-quality content.
If you're looking to market your company online, SEO is not the way to go. Traditional SEO is dead. And in its place is content marketing.
The Changing Nature of SEO
To unpack that a bit, let's talk a bit about SEO. Twenty, ten, or even five years ago, if you were looking to promote your business online, you and your in-house team would optimize your site for search engines. And you'd probably also hire a traditional SEO company that would offer you lots of optimized content you could add to your on-page blog or content with backlinks that could be shopped to third parties.
But this content, by today's standards, would be pretty bad because it would prioritize search engine results page (SERP) ranking position over readability and relevance. Many SEO companies would stuff this content with keywords designed to game Google's search algorithm. You'd have articles with phrases awkwardly stuffed into each section in ways that often violated grammar and syntax rules or were either plagiarized or close to it. And even the more artfully crafted content usually didn't add any new insights.
Google prides itself on returning the best search results - the best answers to people's questions. But they found themselves with thousands of similar articles, obviously crafted to achieve high search results and little else. And so, they began to make changes to their algorithm, designed to deprioritize this kind of content in search results.
While Google continuously tweaks its algorithm, the company makes important changes that have widespread effects a few times a year. And starting with Google's Panda update in 2011, SEO companies that focused heavily on keyword stuffing, spinning content, obsolete articles, and paid backlinking strategies began to see their client's SERP rankings fall precipitously.
Online marketing companies that have thrived realized early on that the best approach to online marketing was to focus on producing the highest quality content possible. Rather than focusing on short-term SERP rankings, companies are better served by consistently providing well-written, engaging, and relevant content.
The short-sighted approach many marketing companies had was in relying on SERP rankings. But even if consumers clicked on the first result, client companies realized that the content they'd purchased wasn't yielding more customers. Consumers are exposed to thousands of ads every single day. And they, like Google, recognized this content for what it was.
How Content Marketing Has Supplanted Traditional SEO
The more effective approach has been for companies to publish content designed to help consumers search for solutions to a particular problem. This content helps them find the answers they sought and educates them about why the company's product or service was the ideal solution. You can do this yourself if you carve out the time. But if you're going to outsource content creation, you need to find someone who understands your industry inside and out, so they can create the kind of content your prospective customers are looking for.
And while some marketing companies still practice the same outdated SEO tactics, Google offers guidance along these lines. A recent Google guideline involves the acronym EAT, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and it helps the search engine company distinguish between high and low-quality content.
Google takes into account the expertise of the content creator, meaning they're unlikely to rank a medical article written by a high school student anywhere nearly as high as they would a physician from a medical clinic. Authoritativeness involves your industry reputation. In this measure, you'll find companies whose industry peers link to and refer to their content score high. And Trustworthiness concerns your site's credibility. Enhancing this aspect involves ensuring your content is fact-checked, cites credible sources, and isn't stuffed full of unrelated ads that obscure the content. And if pages involve payment forms, they should be secure as well.
What Aspects of SEO Are Still Important?
Now, there are components of traditional SEO that are still incredibly important. One is content. Backlinks are also important. But whereas traditional SEO companies would buy backlinks from many, often poor-quality websites, that approach no longer works. Google recognizes it for what it is, and, in context to EAT, it doesn't help you establish your content's Authoritativeness. You have to earn organic backlinks by creating content valuable enough that others are referencing it.
You also should be engaging in public relations efforts. Coverage on local and national news websites is invaluable for your SERP ranking. And you don't need to hold a fancy press conference to get coverage. You can position yourself as a credible authority in your industry with local reporters through in-person networking or resources like Help A Reporter Out (HARO). Journalists, especially local reporters, often look for new sources and stories. Working with them may help garner traffic directly or indirectly to your business or website.
In addition to written content, consumers are looking for videos. With today's smartphones and thousands of online resources available for free, it's not hard to start creating YouTube content. Google's ownership of YouTube is invaluable when building an audience for marketing content. With video especially, younger consumers are hungry for content that transcends the staid detailing of your company's services. Instead, they seek a mixture of personal and professional. They look for authenticity, credibility, and engagement alongside specific solutions to their most pressing problems.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about documenting versus creating. He encourages business owners to sit with their customers and get them to talk about their journey. Consumers appreciate this content because it's authentic and credible. Moreover, it demonstrates your business' value to prospective customers in a powerful way.
But companies should take it a step further by using their content publishing platforms to interview other companies they want to work with. The marketing exposure can help you build industry credibility and help improve SERP rankings. But it can also help you make a more effective sales pitch than your competition. While rivals are cold calling this prospective client, they're likely to be more receptive to you after you've interviewed them, built some rapport, and provided them with free publicity.
Another key takeaway? If you're providing a service and looking to provide how-to videos, don't be afraid to provide too much detail about a specific process. You may be concerned that explaining exactly how to say, fix a common car problem, or navigate a bureaucratic process, will inspire people to take care of the issue themselves.
But the truth is, people have problems following directions, don't have time, or have a more unique issue than they thought. Content that helps you demonstrate your Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness to prospects will net you increased website traffic and sales at the end of the day.