Having been in the Internet marketing profession for eight years now (seven of which have been specific to SEO and search marketing,) I’ve worked for several companies that employed both “black hat SEO” and “white hat SEO” programs.
Now, as I reflect on my experience, I solidify my belief that actualizing ethical, white hat SEO strategies is purely the outcome of creative and beautiful content marketing.
Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO
A Quick Primer
In essence, white hat SEO applies more creative and transparent strategies that are audience driven and social media centric. White hat practices can also lead to sustainable rankings and valuable relationships that help grow a brand beyond search.
Black hat SEO, on the other hand, uses sketchy, behind-the-scenes tactics that are primarily keyword driven and search engine centric. Black hat practices can also lend to fluctuative keyword rankings and greater risks of penalization.
The underlying difference between black hat and white hat SEO is that the latter focuses on producing meaningful, valuable, and audience-oriented content (as opposed to slapping-up a bunch of keyword-optimized doorway pages in effort to get them ranking in Google.)
That’s not to say keyword data can’t instruct purposeful content marketing strategies. I’m just saying that black hat, keyword-obsessed tactics are marginally effective and they dilute user experience while disrespecting Google.
SEO is Content Marketing…
Content Marketing is SEO…
In a paradigm-shifting Kissmetrics article, Neil Patel states a number of converse implications that are quite compelling and profound. Some of my favorites are.
“You’re not an SEO, unless you’re also a content marketer. You’re not a content marketer, unless you’re also an SEO.”
“SEO demands linkbacks. Content marketing introduces linkbacks.”
“Your SEO campaign will fail unless you integrate content marketing. Your content marketing campaign will fail unless you integrate SEO.”
While I don’t 100% agree with that last point Neil makes, I do appreciate his strong argument that SEO and content marketing are not mutually exclusive.
What’s a Content Marketer To Do?
If you consider yourself more of a content marketer, then here are five practices that can infuse more SEO value into your craft.
- Use tools like the Google Keyword Planner to discover the popularity and monthly search volume of specific keywords and phrases.
- Dovetailing on the last tips, leverage keyword data to understand seasonality or certain times in the year when keywords are most often searched.
- Search Google for keywords that reflect your content (such as the title of a blog post you’re working on.) If the search results are saturated with content about your topic, then try positioning your work in a unique way.
- Use social media marketing and advertising to expand the reach of your content, increasing its potential to earn links and social signals (which significantly helps for SEO.)
- In addition to producing content for your own site, conduct outreach and explore opportunities in getting your content publish on other related websites. Often times you can score a link back to your website (great for SEO), as well as reach new audiences (great for everything!)
What’s a SEO To Do?
If you consider yourself more of a search marketer, then here are five practices that can bring more creativity and meaning to your content.
- “Don’t create content for content’s sake,” Rebecca Sentance mentions in a great article over at Search Engine Watch. In other words, quit writing blog posts for the same keyword target every month.
- Start diversifying your content creation efforts by investing in video production, professional imagery, graphic design, and other engaging formats.
- Use Google Autocomplete and “Searches related to” (found at the bottom of the search results) to pinpoint long-tail keywords that inspire purposeful and value-driven content strategies. As Rebecca Sentance states, “Create content that answers questions.”
- Combine social media and content marketing strategies to diversify traffic sources, earn links and social signals, and cultivate SEO value organically.
- Invest more of your efforts building relationships that result in valuable opportunities, such as having your content shared in front of new audiences and landing valuable guest blogging opportunities.
Keep in mind that the latter tips are applicable to both content marketing and SEO professionals. Content marketers may also find the “Searches related to” feature of use for content inspiration. And of course, hanging out at the Marketing Insider Group is a great way to learn and get inspired to find new strategies worth trying.
As always, voice your thoughts, questions, and/or feedback in the comments section below.