There’s a funny little “discussion” going on in LinkedIn’s Digital Marketing group – a discussion that’s teeming with SEO cliches, basic search marketing suggestions, and comments from Google-obsessed digital professionals.
If you think that sounds like a fun place to be, you’re probably as weird as I am.
But while the comments have mostly been thoughtful, the subject of the debate is one that vexes me a bit. It’s about whether writing great content is more important than SEO or vice versa. The thread actually started because of this post by Brand Infection, which proclaims that good content “trumps” SEO. Their evidence? This video from Google’s Matt Cutts:
Besides being tired and kind of trite, the biggest problem with the whole “great content vs. SEO” debate is that it rests upon the false premise that great content and SEO are two mutually exclusive things. They aren’t.
Because great content already is search engine optimized.
If what you publish is useful, thought-provoking, and engaging to your audience, it’s not going to matter whether you remembered to put a keyword between the H1 tags or not. The content is search engine optimized from the get-go due solely to the fact that it is great. Simple as that.
And it’s not like this is some sort of new concept. The whole reason search engine ranking algorithms exist is to make it easier for all of us to locate the goods. If you put keywords in all of your titles, you’ve simply helped the search engines figure out what your content is about. Whether or not your page is the best place to send searchers when they enter a query is another story.
You see, SEO isn’t about using targeted anchor text every time you link internally or making sure your CDN is delivering each page more quickly than the competition. Sure, those things are good for your SEO, but they’re not the only way you’ll go from invisible to ranking high and being found.
Your ticket to success in SEO lies in publishing content with lots of long-term value. You do that by either working with your internal team to create an inbound marketing plan or by hiring third-party marketing professionals to help you devise a strategy and create the content.
Unfortunately, that’s an axiom that debates of this sort neglect to consider. With the proper approach to SEO, however, the “issue” becomes utterly vacuous.
Lots of people on LinkedIn “get it,” though.
That being said, any discussion about whether great content is a necessary part of your Internet marketing strategy (it’s actually the backbone of it) is something worth talking about.
What’s more, some of the discussion participants hit the nail on the head. While pretty much everybody agreed that your content has to be valuable, the following comments managed to touch on the fact that the whole debate centered around a mistaken assumption:
Note: Names and photos have been redacted since LinkedIn discussions are technically private. Sorry.
To separate SEO and content creation as ideas is foolish. Nothing could be more important to your SEO efforts than publishing great content – nothing at all.
After all, great content is what people share. It’s what people link to. It’s what creates long-term value for an audience.
Even having 3% keyword density in every blog post won’t get you the same results. Never in a million years.
image credit: Marlon Hammes