Why Google Is The Biggest Threat To Content Marketing
As an industry, SEO goes through countless transitions and changes as we try to tweak and improve our client results; a process that is dictated almost entirely by Google’s algorithm updates and their treatment of specific techniques. In recent years most of these transitions have revolved around moving from short-cut to short-cut, shifting from one ‘quick win’ tactic to another in an effort to stay ahead of the algorithm and gain page one rankings in the quickest way possible. This constant focus on the path of least resistance has led to SEO gaining a rather bad reputation amongst those outside of the industry, who largely view ‘SEO engineer’ as a synonym for ‘online spammer’. So pronounced are these connotations that many SEO’s now actively choose to re-label themselves as ‘inbound marketer’ or ‘digital marketer’ in an effort to avoid these negative stereotypes.
What’s perhaps worse than the general public’s perception of our industry is that it’s largely justified. Sure there are agencies and individuals who have always avoided the more spammy, quick-win techniques, but on the whole the majority of SEO has focused on horrible practices like article spinning, article marketing, paid links, forum links, comment spam and numerous other shady tactics that fill the internet with low quality content produced solely for search engines. So I think it’s fair to say while most of us consider the impression outsiders have of our industry to be unjustified, we have to accept responsibility for why people think of our industry the way that they do.
These days however, things are different for those of us serious about the industry, as the focus has shifted dramatically from short-term thinking, low quality techniques to the majority of us putting real effort into producing fantastic content that people actually want to read and share. It’s by no means easy – convincing clients to commit a decent budget to high quality content marketing is hard enough, let alone producing it and promoting it in such a way that has the desired effect in terms of (natural) inbound links, brand awareness, traffic, social media links and citations. But, the idea is that it’s worth it in the long run; we’re not only producing great content into the online space, but we’re improving user experience and building links in a way that should be ‘future proofed’ against Google’s algorithm updates. For once, I’m proud of the industry we exist in – we’re not spammers, we’re not using crappy short-term tactics to ‘cheat’ our way to the top spot. Instead, we’re producing cool stuff that’s useful, interesting, relevant and makes the sites we work on worthy of ranking well.
However, there’s one thing that worries me about the way our industry is moving, one thing that can destroy this hugely positive move and push us right back to the days of short-cut tactics; Google.
With their recent updates and heavy punishment of unnatural links profiles, scraped content, thin content and their de-indexing of entire link networks (think BuildMyRank for a pertinent example), Google has driven an evolution of our industry which, in my opinion, is of benefit to the entire online community. Suddenly our industry went through a kind of collective realisation – why carry on utilising short-term tactics if it’s just going to result in us being heavily punished in the future. Why not just put that same amount of time, effort and money into producing something great, something unique, and rank because we deserve to. For once, Google and SEO engineers are aligned in what they want – produce great content of genuine use or interest on a regular basis and rank well (while making the internet a more interesting place to be). For me, that’s a great place for our industry to be.
But, if those efforts (to convince clients to put in the budget, to research and produce great content and to promote it effectively using outreach and PR) don’t result in a warranted improvement in rankings, then more and more SEO engineers will revert back to type; looking for shortcuts around the Google algorithm. What’s worrying is that it’s a very real possibility – we regularly see sites using what we would consider to be shady SEO techniques outranking sites that spend all their time producing what Will Reynolds coined as RCS (essentially high quality, useful and relevant content). Unless this changes, unless Google gets better at punishing the short term approach and more consistent when it comes to rewarding the high quality approach, then high quality content marketing could easily fall away in favour of cheaper, quicker and more effective techniques that produce nowhere near the same level of genuine quality content.
What do you think? Have you seen your content marketing efforts have a genuine positive impact on your rankings? Or are your efforts going unrewarded by the Big G? Let us know in the comments below!
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Image Credit: All Things D