SEO is dead. Ok, "dead" may be too strong a word, but SEO as you may know it no longer exists.
Senseless keyword stuffing, copy-spinning, the so-called "black hat" techniques and other practices that once made SEO the sacred domain of online marketers no longer guarantee to generate the same volume of traffic for bloggers and website owners.
Google's algorithm changes have seen to that. Instead, we're seeing a new approach to online marketing emerge, one that gives more importance to high quality, original content.
This is the dawning of the Age of Content Marketing, you see, when not only is content king, it's the absolute truth.
On the surface nothing much has changed. Blogging and producing engaging feature articles have been around since people figured out how to make money online.
Keyword-rich blog posts and feature articles drove the growth of SEO. However, SEO eventually evolved so that it became all about the techniques and the process.
Content was soon relegated to a mere platform from which SEO techniques were launched and carried out. A couple of things became evident as this situation played out.
First, it became evident that SEO was not rocket science, and that anyone with enough time and gumption could get it done.
Second, and perhaps more important, it soon became evident that not everyone had the time nor the talent to create great content to anchor their SEO on.
But it's the techniques that matter, right? At least that's how the first generation of SEO experts saw it, and so technique took center stage and content was its dispensable wingman.
And so that's how the age of dull, shameful and senseless content began. It got so annoying that eventually Google put it's foot down and said "enough!"
Google changed its algorithm and started slapping wrists and penalizing bad, annoying content. And so now, even if you're an SEO ninja with a bag of arcane SEO tricks at your disposal, you won't get too far with it if all you have are crappy, keyword-stuffed blog posts and articles to go along with your SEO wizardry. And yet so many so called SEOs are still aggressively marketing these harmful practices.
Google wants high quality, original, compelling, engaging and relevant content. And even if we don't admit it, so do we.
Content is what attracts people to your blog or website. If you continue to churn out great content, then people will keep coming back to enjoy it or use it.
The rules of the game have changed right before our very eyes, and content marketing is the new SEO (sort of). The sooner we accept and adapt to this new reality, the better off our online marketing efforts will be.
So here are 5 ways you can execute your content marketing strategy and drive traffic to your blog or website:
1. Write for Humans
It's been said that "the eyes are the windows to one's soul." In a similar way, your content ought to be the windows to your business.
For the most part, your blog posts and feature articles will be the first opportunity for people to learn about your business, your opinions, your advocacy or whatever it is that you peddle on the Web.
In many cases this content may be the ONLY way people will get to learn about you and what you offer. So this is where you need to start and make a good first (and lasting) impression.
You need to provide blog posts or articles that are written well and written for human readers. At the height of the SEO fever, it was common to come across blog posts that employed cutting edge SEO techniques aimed at gaining the attention and favor of search engines, but which were agonizing and all-but-impossible to read.
Make sure that your blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, infographics and other content are optimized for human consumption.
2. Establish Authorship
Google has enforced a system that allows you to take credit for the content you produce. Google Authorship is simple to implement, requiring only a tiny investment in time to create and configure a Google+ account and link to it from your blog posts.
Because it is a Google thing, it offers the benefit of tying in to their search engine results. As a matter of fact, if you have your Google Authorship correctly configured, every time your blog post appears in Google's search results, it will appear alongside your Google+ profile photo.
Research shows us that just having your photo alongside the search engine result for your blog can significantly increase your credibility and trustworthiness.
3. Embrace Social Media
This is almost a no-brainer, but in case there are still some skeptics out there, here is the lowdown on why you need to get with the program. You will have noticed by now that the one thing social media networks like YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are great at is growing your network of friends, followers and contacts.
This may not sound like much but it's a huge thing for businesses to have. When done properly, social media is an effective tool to find a steady stream of new prospects and an awesome channel for staying in touch.
Use highly effective social media strategies to promote your published content and drive visitors to your blog or website.
4. Establish a Cadence
Blog regularly and consistently. If you regularly and consistently post great content every Monday morning, people will take notice and expect to find a new post from you every Monday.
You'll soon find yourself top-of-mind for these people and your readership will continue to grow and sustain itself. And that is simply because of no other reason than people have begun to expect your blog post each Monday morning.
5. Don't Dismiss SEO Entirely
Just because SEO is no longer as effective as it once was does not mean that is totally worthless at this point. There are still some elements to it that make sense and constitute good practice within the new content marketing paradigm.
For example, while keyword-stuffing is no longer welcome, it still makes sense to seed your content with strategic keywords, as long as they are work with the blog post's or article's readability.
Setting the <meta> description in the blog post's <head> section also allows you to display a readable description of the content when it comes up in a search, increasing the chances that the reader will interact with and take action on the search listing.
Find and understand these useful "remnants" of the past SEO age and put them to work for your content marketing strategy.
SEO as we knew it is now dead, but from its ashes has arisen the new content marketing paradigm. It's a paradigm that favors those who offer true value to their audiences and rids the Web of fluff and irrelevance.
The tips enumerated here are simple, but they will require commitment and consistency for you to realize a tangible return on your content marketing investment!
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