There's a lot of hype surrounding the subject of content marketing and it's certainly the cause of many debates within SEO circles. It ties in with the way that Google and other search engines are viewing content and placing emphasis on that which is well regarded and of an authoritative nature. While there's nothing wrong with content marketing if done properly, the ruse comes into play in the way people are being guided in their approach.
Paul May, the CEO of Buzzstream, put together an exceptionally entertaining post entitled "Content Marketing Fairy Dust" where he has put to rest many notions about content marketing and it's magical efficacy. While not saying that it's a load of rubbish, he's merely stating (in a very firm manner) that the way in which marketing gurus like Rand Fishkin (Moz) are selling it, is not entirely true. This doesn't change the fact that Rand is awesome.
Content Marketing Makes Magic
Digital marketers without much working experience in the field of content marketing or outreach, won't understand why their content marketing efforts are not paying off, especially when they're following the blueprint, step for step. The problem is that the blueprint is skewed, and a general consensus is directing marketers to put more effort into the creation of their content than they should into the actual outreach segment - which is making connections with other web property owners in a bid to get them to host your content and link it back to your site.
Paul made mention of a quote by Rand where he states that he simply has to hit the publish button on some great content, and he automatically receives hundreds of inbound links in return - minimal outreach necessary. While this is probably true - it's Rand Fishkin for goodness sake! - it's a little more tricky for the smaller fish at the bottom of the bowl. Without one of the following, you'll be waiting a long time for those magical links to appear upon hitting the publish button:
- An established community such as Moz.com
- An enormous budget
- A bucket load of time
Even mind-blowingly great content can get lost in the Internet ether and it often does. So how then is content marketing supposed to work if you don't have any of the above? With some good old-fashioned, hard work, that's how.
Putting In The Hours
As Google gets smarter and online etiquette evolves, the old fashioned ways of building links are fast becoming distant memories. Link building and outreach is now a much more personal process that involves "building relationships". Paul May makes a very clear distinction regarding the types of relationships you should be building during your outreach endeavors. It's not about kissing butt or wining and dining people; it's simply about being upfront about your intentions. The two things that ring true for me through the entire process are:
- The person you're dealing with should be getting something out of this arrangement
- It's always better to give before you receive
How Content Marketers Are Getting It Right
The job is only half done once you've created the content and a lot of hours need to be put into trying to get it seeded on prominent sites.
The most interesting part of the article was the short summary of what content marketers are doing right in order to get the link love they want from their outreach efforts. I'll summarize each point briefly:
- There isn't a production line of different people involved in creating content and seeding it, it's a holistic process that has the outreach people involved in the content creation. They'll have the first-hand knowledge about what content certain sites are aching for and they'll know how to get it out there
- Those who are doing it right will have direct connections to sites within the right niche markets, but also related sites that won't provide as much conversion value, but will provide a link, thus enhancing authority.
- They don't only go after the big links; they "think big, start small"
- They've got a methodical plan in place and aren't simply throwing bits of content out there willy-nilly
- They put the smaller, less important tasks on auto-pilot
- They're constantly measuring their results and refining their art
Image courtesy of: http://web2py.iiit.ac.in/outreach/default/home