If you’ve heard somebody say “content is king” once, you’ve almost certainly heard it said 100,000 times. Digital trends may be increasingly pushing brands from long-form content towards video content and live streaming, but there’s no denying that when it comes to running an effective online marketing campaign, harnessing the power of quality content (of all varieties) is an essential ingredient.
Yet content isn’t the only part of more “traditional” digital marketing which still matters in 2017. While terms like “link building” and “keyword optimisation” have fallen out of favour with marketers, these techniques still play an important role in underpinning solid, successful digital campaigns with staying power.
Why optimisation got “old”
When online marketing began really taking off as a service around 2010 – after a period of burgeoning interest as the internet began its transformation into the world’s greatest shopping destination – not every SEO service was on the right track. Instead of helping businesses make smart choices and build strong online presences, many providers began to offer cheap, “quick wins”, using techniques to “game” the system and climb to the top of Google.
These shadier SEO services offered what came to be known as “black hat SEO”, which effectively helped businesses cheat their way to the top by aggressively over-optimising websites with every keyword under the sun, creating link farms which built tens of thousands of links from the spammiest websites on the internet and just plain ignoring what consumers wanted from a brand’s web presence, as well as the online world Google was trying to order.
As it turned out, they were only cheating themselves and, when Google started playing cat and mouse with these shysters, the websites they’d worked on virtually vanished from search results thanks to algorithm updates like Google Panda (which penalised sites with duplicated, thin or spammy content in 2011) and Google Penguin (which penalised websites with spammy links in 2012). All of this tumult lead many brands and clients to become deeply suspicious of terms like “link building” and “keyword optimisation”.
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater
But absolutely not all SEO companies offering link-building and keyword optimisation were trying to game the system. In fact, many were using their knowledge of Google’s stance and guidelines to build better websites and web presences. Instead of over-stuffing pages with keywords to create virtually unreadable spam, old-school agencies like Fusewave were using keyword research to discover the content consumers wanted to connect with in order to build bigger, better and more beneficial websites all round.
Today, keyword research is just as fundamental as ever for brands that want to succeed online by building a positive web presence which respects Google’s rules. The best content marketing campaigns still incorporate keyword research, using techniques such as longtail keyword research to uncover undiscussed topics and unanswered questions which their target markets are interested in.
Choosing keywords wisely can also help businesses, particularly SMEs new to digital marketing, select less competitive terms which will help them become visible more quickly in search results – without keyword stuffing or diminishing the quality of their on site content.
So before you crown content as king, don’t forget about keyword research and optimisation completely. Instead, take a balanced view, learn more about the right ways and the wrong ways to use keywords online and use them to the advantage of your brand, your customers and search engines too!