Driving Traffic Through Content Marketing – Is Content the New SEO?
You often see content marketing described as more of a brand building practice than something that drives traffic. These same marketers say that it’s there to impress your audience and impact visitors once they have arrived but it’s not result-driven enough to drum up new business.
However, content marketing can be more than that
It can provide the inbound traffic your business has needed. In fact, content marketing can be more effective for driving traffic than SEO because it accomplishes naturally what SEO can often only emulate.
Thousands of businesses each year waste away their marketing budgets on ineffective, short-lived SEO campaigns that rarely stand the test of time.
Chasing SEO results will leave you empty handed.
When 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, you can bet that getting to the top is a competitive process.
Some businesses choose to pay for it, but when 70-80% of users ignore paid ads and focus on the organic search results, that’s not so desirable. (source)
When is the last time you saw a “sponsored ad” on Facebook, Instagram or another social network and took it seriously? We tend to only trust authentic results and we internally filter out the content that we know is an advertisement.
Businesses continuously choose organic, but their approach is flawed.
What happens is businesses recognize that search engines are a cash cow for new leads, but they don’t want to run paid ads for the reasons just discussed. Instead, they put their marketing budget into SEO.
With the success of their business dependent on getting results and so much of their spending budget on the line, they do what any desperate business would, they forgo the necessity to deliver their audience great content.
They spend money on link building and practices that increase rankings, rather than improving the value of their website through content.
When was the last time you saw a website with poor content and very little value, at the top of the search results? It doesn’t happen much. Producing great content is a much needed first step to achieving results organically.
However, when you’re too focused on the prize, you forget what’s most important.
In order to acquire and maintain top rankings in search engines, you have to have a website that is worthy of being there. Short-handing your audience will only lower your results.
Content marketing is promising but requires patience
If you have a limited amount of time to produce results and you are budget-locked from spending beyond a certain amount, you shouldn’t invest in content marketing.
For the purpose of demonstrating how challenging building a content marketing campaign can be, we’ll compare it to pay-per-click – such as Google Adwords.
Content marketing has one of the highest returns on investment.
You’re not paying for clicks, you’re building lifelong assets.
If you stop funding your content marketing campaign, your content doesn’t disappear like ads do with a halted PPC campaign.
There’s no expiration date on content and there’s nothing to stop it from producing results indefinitely.
There’s also more traffic in the end, but a very long build-up period.
When done right, content marketing outranks PPC by a pretty substantial margin. It can generally provide as much as 3 to 4 times the traffic that’s even possible through a PPC campaign.
However, it doesn’t typically overtake PPC traffic until about 2 years into the process. That’s right. A full 24 months down the line, on average, you begin to overtake the traffic that your paid advertisements have been producing since the beginning.
That’s a long time. It seems especially long when you consider that it takes 6 to 7 months, on average, to produce any kind of results with content marketing. Traffic is often halted at absolutely nothing for half a year when you first start a content marketing campaign. That’s not to say that you can’t promote your content and perform better than this in your first 6 months, but these results are typical. (source)
It’s a return on investment that continues climbing.
To calculate a true ROI from your content marketing efforts would take years of data collection. Even then, your ROI would likely be higher than what the data suggests.
Content is an asset that never expires. It continues to provide results even years after it was created. This is especially true when you focus on evergreen content that doesn’t become outdated through age.
If you have the patience to see it through and alternative traffic sources to supplement your income during its build-up period, it’s a very promising pursuit.
Content marketing keeps you focused on what’s important
Content marketing isn’t the easiest road to increasing your traffic and sales, but it’s by far the safest and most effective. It ensures that your content is always the foundation of your efforts.
You can never lose sight of how important it is when it’s paramount to everything you do.
In a digital world where content is king, sometimes we need that constant reminder to keep us on track. Producing great content for your audience is ultimately what you want to be doing, so why not structure your marketing efforts around it?
If serving your audience is primary and everything else is secondary, it makes sense that content marketing should be the tip of the spear.
Content marketing establishes new search engine rankings
Content marketing is the SEO advantage that businesses need to outrank their competitors because every piece of content that’s developed will provide new search engine rankings.
Write with keyword optimization in mind but not prioritized.
When you’re conducting research for an article, find long-tail phrases and high traffic keywords to mold your ideas behind. When you gear your content toward SEO from the beginning, you’re not sacrificing content quality and you’re enhancing its value.
Content that uses the right terms, in the right places, will be far more likely to get picked up by search engines. Initially, it might rank as far back as a few hundred in the listings.
However, if it’s truly top-notch, Google will “test” your content at the top of the results from time-to-time. They will monitor the bounce rate and average duration between visits. If you’re outperforming other listings, there’s a good chance your content will get placed at the top of the results on a more permanent basis.
Stay consistent and Google’s “split-testing” will be common.
Keep this up site-wide and a lot of your content will start to rank without having to do any outside promotion.
Google wants the best sites to rank at the top. It’s good for their market share because it’s good for their users. Trust in the process and know that the more high quality content you produce, the more likely your results will multiply.
Split-testing is a real strategy search engines use to determine which websites deserve to rank at the top.
Content marketing is multi-faceted
This article is about traffic and the results that content marketing can bring. But that’s not to say that content marketing’s other qualities should be overlooked. Sometimes these qualities are more important to the results of your marketing efforts than the inbound traffic is.
Brand awareness can reach new heights.
The full-spectrum of content marketing is more than just publishing on your own blog.
Part of it is reaching out to other blogs in your industry and guest posting content as a contributing author. When you do this, there’s almost always some type of agreed upon author bio where you can tell the audience who you are. This is a great place to promote your brand and get a link back to your site.
The brand awareness and growth that you can receive from this is immeasurable. Building your brand is often a slow and tedious process until one day, you’ll look back and realize you’ve made considerable progress.
- Customers became aware of your business through your website’s blog.
- You’re getting customers from affiliates.
- You’re getting customers from referrals.
- Businesses you’ve never worked with are referring new customers.
- Customers found your business from a guest post.
- Customers found your business from your content promotion efforts.
- Your sales process is flowing easier and new customers are less resistant.
- Customers are arriving at your website from search engines.
Your leads are nurtured and ready to close.
When you produce great content, leads that were on the fence are suddenly more willing to make a commitment and close the sale.
Your content often acts as a lead nurturing tool, allowing your audience to get comfortable with your brand. They see that you’re an authority in the industry before making their next move.
Consumers are savvier shoppers than ever before. They check reviews, watch videos, read comments and genuinely scope-out the competition before they commit to buying.
If you hope to be their final choice, you have to position yourself as the best.
Your audience is engaged with your content and connected.
What makes social networks attractive?
It’s the sense of connection with others. It’s the feeling that you are a part of something bigger and you’re engaged with other, like-minded people.
Humans are social beings. We enjoy the presence of others. It brings reassurance to know that we are experiencing something that others can appreciate as well.
Your content can provide that engagement. You can captivate your audience through words, videos, quizzes, questionnaires, podcasts and all sorts of valuable content-based resources.
By commenting with other users of the site, you create a community that’s connected and empowered by eachother’s presence.
There’s a lot of evidence behind content marketing as an effective traffic generation strategy. However, a lot of businesses don’t have the budget and time that’s required to produce results.
If you were considering hiring an SEO agency, consider some of the advantages that a content-based approach has when it comes to outranking your competitors.
About the Author
Dylan is the founder of Empowermented where brands, businesses, and entrepreneurs go to be empowered with new ideas and opportunities. Their blog management helps businesses reach their audience in an authentic and natural way.