I’ve seen a number of articles lately that seem to profess an oversimplified perspective on SEO success; create good content, and the rest will take care of itself. Content marketing and SEO are inextricably linked, and it’s definitely true that good content is necessary for SEO — but to say that “good content” is all you need for “good” SEO or a successful search optimization campaign is misleading and inaccurate.
The idea is right — in theory. Google wants to provide the best, most relevant content to its user base, and so it’s developed an algorithm that naturally ranks “good” content higher. Produce more content and you’ll have more indexable topics that cover a wider range of user queries, and as long as that content is “good,” you’ll attract more links to your site. If you don’t produce any content at all, you don’t stand a chance of making meaningful SEO progress. If your material is weak or untrustworthy, you’ll similarly fail. But let’s assume you’re diving into a strategy that produces “good” content regularly — why isn’t that enough to increase your rankings?
The Many Sides of “Good”
First, you need to understand that “good” is an ambiguous term that actually refers to many different dimensions of quality, including:
· Uniqueness. Your content can’t be like anything else in its field, or it’s not going to stand out.
· Practicality. Your content needs to be useful in some way, or users won’t find value in it.
· Entertainment. Content should also have some underlying entertainment or novelty value to it.
· Relevance. Content needs to be targeted and relevant to one specific audience.
These don’t even cover the full gamut of what makes good content “good” — there’s also grammar, voice, syntax, emotional resonance, and dozens of other factors I’m skipping entirely. Reducing all these needs to a single factor — good — makes it impossible to produce fully compliant content.
The Visibility Problem
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that your content somehow meets every possible criteria for what’s considered “good.” You have a blog full of good content, and you produce new content regularly. What value does this content have if nobody is seeing it?
On a technical level, this includes ensuring Google’s bots are able to detect, index, and properly categorize your content. On a more practical level, it’s about how many users are aware of your work, so they can then read and view it.
As advanced as it is, Google still relies on the feedback of its users to rank the quality of content — and if those users can’t see your work, it will have no data upon which to judge your content’s quality.
Links and Shares
Much of this user feedback is provided in terms of shares and links, which Google sees as votes that establish a site’s (or page’s) credibility and authority. If you earn lots of links from high-authority sources, you’ll be seen as inherently more trustworthy, and you’ll climb in organic search rankings. However, earning these links isn’t always as simple as publishing your content and then crossing your fingers as you wait. In most cases, you’ll have to go out and work for these links — at least to get the ball rolling — by asking for them directly, promoting and syndicating your content over time, and possibly building some manual links as well.
Writing good content is a good start, but don’t neglect the technical factors that are necessary to help your site rank. It’s true that many template sites, like Wordpress, come automatically equipped with a technical structure that makes them indexable in Google search (and some user experience optimization factors like mobile compliance), but this doesn’t cover everything. You’ll need to create and update a sitemap, utilize your robots.txt file, create meta data and title tags, increase your site speed, improve your site security, and take dozens of other steps to get your site in fighting shape.
The true power of content can only be tapped when it’s integrated with other strategies you’re running. For example, social media marketing and email marketing both benefit and are benefited by quality content. Using these strategies in conjunction with each other is the fastest and most powerful way to tap the value of your content, and start building your authority accordingly.
You also need to realize that SEO is a long-term strategy, and you can’t be successful unless you have specific goals and targets. For example, what niche are you trying to serve? What keyword phrases are you trying to rank for? Where do your competitors rank, and how soon do you imagine overtaking them? These strategic choices can make or break your campaign’s ROI, and if you’re only worrying about creating “good” content, you’ll be neglecting them entirely. On top of that, how do you plan to scale over time? If you’re already publishing “good” content, how do you publish content that’s even better?
Hopefully, I’ve been able to illustrate my point clearly here. SEO is a complex strategy that can’t possibly be boiled down to one single focus. Good content is important to foster a thriving SEO strategy — probably even the foundational element of an SEO strategy. But the term “good” is too ambiguous to lean on, and even then, there are too many other off-site and technical factors that demand your consideration. SEO is approachable, and manageable even by newbies, but only if you’re prepared for its complexity.