To be an excellent inbound, SEO and content professional involves greater understanding of the business, it’s branding, goals, channel alignment, plus content tracking to see if they match its objectives.
Many businesses, individuals and publications approach and prescribe SEO, content marketing and branding as separate practices. We will see why that fails and what you should do to become more efficient.
There is a dominant point of view held by employers, not professionals that SEO and content writing are separate specialisms. They are not. They are holistic disciplines demanding a wider scope and other soft skills to be effective.
An expert inbound marketing SEO content writer must:
- Identify the content ‘audience’ and write effectively to them. Audience is not the same as client. A digital marketer should already know these differences
- Be goal oriented and being able to set up measurable objectives per channel
- Understand every channel produces different results / goals. Time, resource and costs of production need to be monitored, justified and optimised
- Align all channel media to the audience, to achieve a company is, not the writer is personal goals
- Produce brand and channel aligned media (solutions, USPs) for all channels
- Have an in-depth knowledge of SEO and how to use other content channels to achieve these
Before we carry on, content marketing means media e.g: video, images, podcasting, not just the written word.
WHY EMPLOYERS FAIL INBOUND MARKETING, SEO & CONTENT PROFESSIONALS
Since 2014, both the mainstream media and industry press, misrepresent the difference between the SEO and content marketing. I do not think my point of view is as novel as Copernicus’. However, like Copernicus, changing established opinions is hard. Just view any content marketing professional job advert. In 90% you will read that an inbound marketer has to have an understanding SEO (not its application) or have a massive work portfolio, be a passionate writer etc.
Employers, not professionals are to blame for creating a job role stereotype that fails the business itself. If your employer continue to make this difference, it is likely to fail yourself in your role. Ultimately some roles are easier by legacy or short term gains that keeps the company and campaign afloat. It does not push employees or businesses to be better.
Publications like Forbes share my holistic point of view. In April 2018 they wrote that SEO and content marketing is evolving and coming together as a holistic practice.
I recently replied to a tweet from Uberflip, the world is number 1 Content Experience Platform (CEP) that content marketing has to be 360. They agreed and liked the idea. This got me thinking. If this resonated with them, I am on the right track, then there is something in it.
Let is first illustrate the differences between content marketing and SEO professionals. Then their similarities. Finally how they are actually two halves of the same fruit, not individual fruit!
HOW IS SEO DIFFERENT FROM CONTENT PRODUCTION?
SEO is a technical practice. It demands knowledge of markup languages HTML, CSS, java maybe PHP and what they can do to optimise a website is performance (navigation, UX etc).
A SEO professional has to keep up with daily search engine changes and general chatter. The role is essentially analytical of the website under their control and other websites linking to them.
It demands behind the scenes work like optimizing user experience with robots.txt, enhancing metadata (canonisation), schema markup, and a sitemap (technical SEO). That means content found on the website is what the business wants to be found. Non-relevant pages are hidden.
So where do SEO and content meet. Websites must have content. There is no SEO without content.
HOW IS CONTENT PRODUCTION IS DIFFERENT FROM SEO?
Content production has a wide scope of creative and semi-technical specialisms e.g. graphic design, writing, video, PR, social media, etc. There are different content styles per sector – b2b, b2c, corporate etc.
Content is affected by its delivery media and technological advances by search engines have changed how content is delivered.
Search engines stipulate that fast experience is good, slow is bad. As a result, technological advances and mandates from search engines has given us a very impatient audience.
Written and other content styles have changed. Between 2011 to 2019 is content is consumption has shifted from the desktop, to mobile app, mobile browser and now to smart devices (assistants). Content is consumed via AR and VR devices (wearable or otherwise).
To paraphrase Oliver Twist, we have moved from wanting more, to wanting it quick, now, and don’t bore me. Front loaded content (inverted pyramid for scripts, landing pages, etc) is where it is for most vertical industries. The audience now wants to skip from the know already (foreplay), to the want to explore (interact) with a show me, not tell me experience.
This means, content production has to be optimised to the media for an audience. The content department must have an in depth understanding of what needs to be produced, how it is done, and the expected result. That dear reader is not what you read in many job advert.
CONTENT MARKETING AND SEO ARE INTRINSIC DISCIPLINES
SEO needs content to be good, relevant, inspire calls to action and backlinks.
Content marketers need to comply with SEO norms, no keywords stuffing, thin / scraped content or plagiarism etc and to write for a certain media channel / technology.
To understand why they are intrinsic outside the marketing and content sphere, let us take a mundane example to demonstrate that applied holistic specialisms.
Let me ask – what abilities, skills, mindsets, knowledge does a semi professional mountain biker need?
First the obvious. They must own, ride a bike. It helps being fit. But to be ‘proficient’ they must know about mechanics, the weather: how to prepare, fix, maintain their bike and equipment: how to navigate, preparation – prior knowledge of the terrain, first aid, and nutrition, hydration and much more.
Similarly, a successful inbound marketer, you will know:
- Business owners want results. As an inbound expert has to plan and action and think like a business owner.
These must be representative of the channel and campaign they are planning.
The campaign has to represent communications through the owner is own eyes and vision – that is making content aligned to the mission statements and goals of the company.
Applied branding to use branding to achieve a businesses ends, not selling branding as hot air.
Many ‘content writers’ say they know how to produce branded content. If content does not achieve measurable business goals and objectives then, ‘You know nothing content writer/manager’, paraphrasing Ygritte from Game of Thrones.
- An inbound content marketing expert must speak and think like a digital marketer
They know the benefits and features of the product and how to get them.
They know the niches and the buyer / audience profiles.
They understand what strategy to apply to take a prospect to the next stage of the buying cycle.
- An inbound expert understands social media and content media. They know how to put across solutions relevant to an audience, using the right psychological words that stimulate action.
- An inbound expert analyzes and has the tech background of an SEO professional. They have done the keyword research and proved demand by search volume.
Once an inbound expert appreciates this and they will produce killer content.
IN PART II OF BECOMING AN INBOUND MARKETING, SEO, CONTENT PRO
In the next part in this series we will go, with real business examples how to get the most from your inbound marketing activities. We will cover in greater depth solutions how to identify an audience, onboard a client / onboard in a role, agreeing business goals and measurements per channel, brand communication, confirm that passion is not the golden goose of content creation, plus choosing and creating fit for purpose distribution and content plans.