50 Shades of SEO – Is Search Engine Optimisation Dominating Your Content Marketing?

Obsessions often start with an innocent desire, but then quickly become all-consuming and destructive. This is definitely true of B2B marketers’ passion for search engine optimising their websites to the ninth degree. Yes, inbound leads from prospects already in buying mode are now far more likely to come in via your website than your annual industry tradeshow, as buyers rely on Google to sift through information to research and shortlist vendors. But inexperienced or offline focused marketers are sometimes manipulated into doing shameful things to their marketing content that they would not have dreamt of doing if an interactive marketing expert or web master had not told them to do so.

While SEO is a fundamental part of today’s b2b marketing plans, it is the content that matters most, as it effectively fuels your SEO efforts, engages your website visitors and provides the context for your keywords.

50 Shades of SEOIn the relationship between SEO and content marketing, content should be the dominant partner calling the shots. But with website-generated revenue often being attributed to SEO and PPC rather than the content consumed by prospects, it’s easy to be led to believe that marketing content should be submissive to SEO. Here are the top signs that your content marketing campaigns may be being perverted to suit someone’s penchant for making all things subservient to SEO:

Sign #1: Submission
The H1 title tag is crucial for SEO, and there is widespread agreement that keywords in page titles will boost your search engine results pages (SERPS). At the same time, the title of any page needs to appeal to the reader, be well written and relate to the content of the page. If you are being asked to stuff page titles with SEO keywords that are unrelated to the page content, you should take this as a warning sign your content is being (mis)used to satisfy the needs of SEO. The reason this is negative is because keyword stuffing is not only uncomfortable, but also counterproductive and will be punished by search engines. That’s because Google wants you to provide quality content to readers, and search engines do not like to be manipulated. The safety word you need to use to make this this type of domination stop is ‘quality’ – the quality of the content is more important than the number of times a keyword is featured per page.

Sign #2: Controlling Behaviour
Similar to the above, but taken to the next level. Specifically, some organizations now employ (or outsource to) web writers, who rewrite copy to optimise the content for search engines. This is all well where search optimisation is the main success criteria, but aren’t we forgetting the reader? You should write for your target audience, not for Google. And who knows your reader better: You or a web writer? Final sign off on all content should be with you. If that’s not currently the case, you need to start to say no and set some boundaries.

Sign #3: Unrealistic Expectations
SEO practitioners sometimes forget how much time and effort it takes to produce great content. If your SEO partner demands unrealistically high volumes of content and applies the (proverbial) whip when it’s not forthcoming, it’s a sure sign that they see themselves as the dominant party. To satisfy their unnatural appetites, they may also suggest a role play of sorts, which sees them producing content which has no marketing value whatsoever apart from link building and search engine optimisation.

If you have not encountered this before, read this article which explains all about auto-submitted content, paid for links and the dreaded blog spam comments: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/non-seo-bad-link-building/106009 

You should steer clear of these tactics as they will most likely not aid your SERPS, and may prove embarrassing, too. Submission, controlling behaviour and unrealistic expectations are three warning signs that someone is trying to dominate your content marketing to satisfy their SEO needs. There are additional signs (feel free to share them below), but thankfully there’s no need to devote a painful trilogy to this topic!

Apologies to everyone who thought this blog post was in any way related to that 50 Shades of Grey movie trailer!

What football and marketing have in common

As I listened to the pundits narrating Belgium’s win against the USA in the World Cup, I got to thinking about the similarities between the beautiful game of soccer and the beautiful art of marketing:

Marketing is like football

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing is like football, because…. Please complete the sentence below:

Five signs your content marketing plan needs reviewing

The donkey and the marketing plan

Don’t be a donkey!

If you are in the business of creating B2B marketing content, sooner or later, you need to ask yourself the question: What next? Sure, you have a long-term content plan, but even the best laid plans of mice and marketers often go astray. After all, your content should address current market challenges, and be tailored to address the state of your sales pipeline, and without powers of clairvoyance, it’s hard to predict either with 100% accuracy at the beginning of the year.

So now you are half-way through the year and looking at your content marketing strategy, and thinking: Hmm – do I still really want to cover these topics? Here’s how to decide whether to press ahead or refresh your content marketing plan – five signs your marketing content plan needs reviewing:

  1. Your sales pipeline is crammed with early stage opportunities that are not moving. If this symptom applies to you, review your content to see if:

a) all your content is high-level thought leadership designed to raise brand awareness

b) any of your content is suitable for lead nurturing

c) your marketing automation is making effective use of your lead nurturing content

  1. A disproportionately high number of your marketing leads are disqualified by sales. If this has happened to you, you’ll need to not only review your segmenting criteria, but also your marketing messaging: Do your marketing campaigns promise more than your products can deliver? Is your positioning premium, and your service delivery no-frills?
  2. Your content is not generating any demand for your products and services. If your marketing metrics (page visits, time spent on page, response rates etc.) are good, but your product is not shifting, your content may be to blame. Review your campaigns to see if there is a disconnect between your content and your services. For instance, if your thought leadership focuses on the benefits of cloud computing, but you are trying to generate leads for a Software as a Service accounting solution, then your content needs to be revised to address your niche more specifically and help connect the industry megatrend (cloud computing) to your product.
  3. Your last video generated lots of inbound enquiries and social shares, but you only budgeted for one. This is good news – you produced content that worked well. Now it’s time to go back to your plan and cut less well performing content to free up time and budget for things that generate revenue.
  4. Your marketing metrics are declining. Every email you send gets fewer opens than the previous one, your clickthroughs are dwindling while your unsubscribe rates are creeping up. These are sure signs that your content is not only failing to rock your audience’s world, but it’s seriously starting to get on their nerves. If your customers and prospects don’t see the value of your content, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Review your marketing contentThe end of Q2 can be a good time to review your content marketing plan. If you are looking to improve your performance, doing so now will enable you to make change tack and set you on course to meet your end of year goals.  Do you know of any other signs that your marketing content plans need to be reviewed? Please share your ideas in the comment section below!