(Notes from the London Link Love Conference)
Presenter: Rand Fishkin
Rand did his usual and gave a very compelling talk about the value of great content, no matter what industry or niche you are in.
Much of Google’s linking algorithm is based on links and their interpretation as a ‘vote’ for that site. But links were never really votes, and this system wasn’t really intended to benefit marketers in the way we’re using it.
The internet has changed, and sharing has evolved. The ‘linkerati’ is now much bigger – neworked creators are everywhere. 66% are social networking site users and 15% have personal websites.
social signals rising
Although they haven’t got direct access to social data from Facebook and the like, Google are getting representative sample of the social graph. While social signals are not directly or always impacting, they can create competitive rankings.
Rand explains how links are actually often a thorn in search engines’ side – as they can be manipulated. He feels SEO has become too tactical – not about getting customers, just about ranking in a certain place.
The crux of online marketing is that companies need a lower cost of acquisition than competitors’, and to this end inbound marketing tactics are often cheaper.
The aim is for a good cost-of-customer-acquisition to customer-life-time-value ratio. So to achieve this lower cost-of-customer-acquisition you can focus on either:
A: Content + SEO + social +community + press
5 reasons Rand invests in content rather than links
- You win in long tail, conversion rate, organic, direct bookmarketing, community, social following, brand visibility,PPC advertising etc. Sources that win ‘later’.
- So you can take pride in your work.
- Strategies that last no matter what – need to build a memorable brand that has positive signals of every kind. If social connection are the future then links/rankings are worthless in the long run.
(duckduckgo is targeting the same people that made google successful initially)
- Reduced effort over time – SEOmoz get 400 linking route domains almost every time they publish content. They build links while they sleep!
- Builds brand loyalty and trust.
Content enables you to know, trust and like a business. This means your click-through-rate will be higher, your conversion rate will be higher, your subscription rate will be higher…Content is by far the least expensive way to do this.
what content should I make?
Don’t limit yourself to content about your subject - discover what your audience shares and likes. Research the interest graph of people who might buy, and create content that excites them.
For example Fiskars make scissors, but have a phenomenal blog. They’ve crowdsourced the interests of their group and created a content portal powered by fans. You can brand your product to align with your content.
Remember, content can mean lots of different things: community, products, or even platforms/data. For example the site builtwith.com crawls the web and shows the technology being used to power it. It’s great to see stats of what’s being used and how pervasive a certain technology or platform, like WordPress, is.
10 examples of content marketing done right
- Dollarshaveclub.com launch video is very funny and gained something like half a million users and $1.5m dollars o investment.
- Everytimezone visualised - they make it easy to link to and suggest you do.
- feefighters blog - genius to use anchor text within their tag line! Branding and SEO together.
- Economist graphics blog - blog with charts and graphs gets lots of links and embeds.
- Zemanta blog links tool – puts images and content in front of 800k bloggers while they’re writing, and makes it easy to link to.
- Twitter stories - content curation and unique design
- Slate’s partnership with Q&A site Quora - Slate take Quora’s best questions and answers and republish – you can do this internally at your company.
- Koozai’s viral blog post via Google News - used news, video rich snippets, rel author, schema etc.
- See Jane Work – demographically targeted office supplies try to bring a group together (similar interests, political causes etc) around the brand. Focused on passionate working women, but similar worked with ‘are Romanians smart’ campaign – used national pride.
- Pridebait – finding, nominating and recognising people through polls, interviews etc.
the final word
But at what point does SEO become advising people on how to run their business? It depends where in the funnel you are. If an agency is just involved in SEO then focus on that, but if higher input is possible then yes, look at where cost-of-cust-acquisition is low and start investing in content.
Does great content work for every industry? Yes, but there are differences in each. Tailor-make your content. But generally it’s very rare where content isn’t a great place to start. Writing isn’t the only way to do content – if you’re great at data do that, video, or just hire contract writers. Everyone has a strength of some kind, particularly business owners.
To actually get your content in front of people, start in the research phase – find what content has made it into the press, and what people and influencers (e.g. the press) are talking about it. You can use market research surveys to find out more about these audiences.