The value of content marketing in SEO now surpasses backlinks, according to a hot-off-the-presses study of Google’s latest ranking factors.
In fact, a new SearchMetrics study of Google ranking factors demonstrates that well-written, relevant content — specifically when it provides real solutions for your prospects and customers — is now the single most important aspect of SEO.
The Rapid Downfall of Backlinks
Just two short years ago, linkbuilding was king. We know that Google is constantly updating its algorithms, but even so, this is a major shift in priorities — and one that SEO experts are happy to see.
Backlinks, because they appear on websites over which you have no control, are unreliable. They can disappear if the referring site is taken down or if the page they’re on is modified. Or even more dangerous, Google may find some anomaly that downgrades (or blacklists) the referring site. In that case, your site will suffer from that judgment as well.
Backlinks Are Still Important
Even though content marketing has a leg up on backlinks today, that doesn’t mean the need for linkbuilding has gone away. In fact, good backlinks are still necessary — just not as necessary as great content.
Backlinks will probably always be an important ranking factor for Google. However, you must ensure that yours come from sites that are highly credible and visible. Otherwise, Google will quickly root out bad links and penalize you in the search rankings.
Use safe and ethical link-building strategies, and your SERP placement will benefit accordingly. Just be sure to take a robust approach to risk management for your backlinks, or you risk being penalized by Google.
What Google Demands of Your Content
The most important takeaway here is that backlinks, even the best backlinks, won’t boost your SERP placement unless you pair it with effective content marketing strategies.
But how does Google define great content?
It uses a calculation known as the “Topical Authority Score” or TAS. The key concept here is your content must be topical. In other words, you can use your keywords and phrases over and over in your content, but unless your content explores your topic in specific detail, Google doesn’t score it highly.
The TAS calculation also strongly favors solutions. This means that your content must answer specific questions that potential site visitors may have. If you have a heating and air conditioning company, for example, a prospect in your area may search on a phrase like, “what SEER AC should I buy” or even, “what SEER means.”
If Google has determined that your site’s content provides well-written, responsive answers these questions, you will rank highly for the search.
The Importance of Well-Written Copy in Content Marketing
Have you ever visited a website where the text was poorly written, full of grammar and spelling errors? We all have. What message does it send about that company? If they can’t handle small details like this, how well can they meet your needs?
Unfortunately, some business owners don’t place a high priority on what may seem to them like small details. From Google’s perspective, however, these are definitely not small details. And if you want your SEO efforts to succeed, you must play by Google’s rules.
Professionally written web copy is a critical component of successful content marketing. Not only is it free of errors, but it is structured for your target audience. The tone will be crisp, clean and engaging. And through the magic of well-structured words, it will prompt your prospects to act, turning them into customers.
Finally, professional content marketing writers are intimately familiar with Google’s requirements du jour, allowing them to optimize the copy for maximum SEO results. Even if you’re a great writer yourself — or if you have a burgeoning Ernest Hemingway on staff — trying to decipher Google’s SEO rules is a bit like trying to read Greek.
Professionally written content is original and created specifically for your business, so you won’t have to worry about Google penalizing you for duplicate copy.
How to Adopt a Super-Effective Content Marketing Strategy
As much as great content can help boost your site’s position in the search engine rankings, bad content can downgrade you. Today, more than ever, a formal content marketing strategy is necessary for outperforming your competitors.
You already know how important SEO is. Today, SEO and content marketing have become inextricably tied. Even top SEO experts say content marketing is SEO and vice versa.
Engaging the services of a professional SEO and content marketing expert is the most effective way to ensure that you carve out the market share you deserve. Effective SEO will keep you ranking at the top of the search engines month after month, year after year.
Be Locally SEO provides expert web design, search engine optimization, PPC and social media marketing services. Our exclusive suite of professional services brings all the pieces of internet marketing together, simply and cost-effectively. We scale our services to meet your needs — and your budget. Contact us today to learn more about how content marketing can benefit your organization, now and in the future.