Author: Chris Green (pictured), sales and media director at Motoring.co.uk
"Thanks to Google, old style SEO – ‘link building’ - is dead and new style SEO, centred on unique content is in.
The latest Panda 4.1 update, released last week, is all about quality content. Google has historically rewarded big brands, but the game has changed and it is now a level playing field. The search engine aims to identify low quality content more easily and according to Google, it affects between 3% and 5% of search queries, and will result in a greater diversity of high-quality small and medium-sized sites ranking higher.
Google will continue to drive this trend in content marketing popularity and has already made multiple changes to reinforce their position. Google has said publicly that it wants to reward websites that are fast, relevant and comprehensive.
This is significant for dealers and manufacturers, but why, you may ask? Content, social media and SEO were once considered three separate channels, but not anymore. There is only one channel and that is content marketing. The answer to this is in a quote from the Content Marketing Institute: ”Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content, with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behaviour.”
The SEO industry is buzzing around content and it is easy to see why. Traditionally, search engines crawled pages and attributed relevancy based on keywords, so we had to get some static text on our pages to rank. SEO then evolved to keyword stuffing - not only did we need content, but it needed to include lots of popular keywords in it.
About five years ago the big thing was ’fresh content’ and everyone needed this so that Google thought it was more valuable. Spinning content was born. It was the case that if you didn’t have a blog, you didn’t have an SEO strategy. How else were you going to produce 20 new pieces of content every day?
Then the Panda bomb landed and everyone needed to replace their ‘poor-quality duplicate content’ with ‘poor quality unique content’. More recently, we discovered we couldn’t spam or buy links anymore, so we had to produce something worth talking about.
So with this evolution of SEO and the recent moves by Google to reward quality content, what should dealers and manufacturers now be doing? What is for certain, is that without engaging content you, can no longer deliver organic performance.
Google continues to penalise manipulation and put more weight on engagement. More digital marketers are turning to content marketing and a general content strategy to drive organic performance. Simply put, your content now has to be marketable and not just loaded with keywords.
So what makes good content marketing? Without doubt, engagement is a key factor to higher rankings. If you are going to create something then you want people to interact with it, whether it’s a written article or a cool quiz. Increased website engagement will help improve rankings and also encourage users to come back and look for you again.
Content marketing is also a great way of delivering natural, high authority links, so it is worth building this in. To do this, your idea needs to be ‘link worthy’ as well as ‘share worthy’, and these can be two entirely separate things. To make sure your piece of content is as link worthy as possible, do the following:
a) Work with popular bloggers/publishers to research and plan your content marketing campaign.
b) Collect data, either through the actual piece of content or through a traditional survey. When it comes to link acquisition – data and insight are king.
c) Focus on your target audience - make sure the links you get are in front of people that might actually consider clicking on them.
Below are examples of two great automotive content marketing campaigns, according to Econsultancy.com: https://econsultancy.com/blog/65522-six-great-automotive-content-marketing-campaigns?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Econsultancy&utm_campaign=4793424_1430-daily-pulse-uk-2014-10-02&dm_i=LQI,2UQMO,9O3ZT1,ACHPJ,1#i.8fewlk15xccxmw
This Way - The Toyota Magazine
The Toyota Magazine is hosted on the Toyota site, so it’s easy to begin browsing vehicles and contacting the dealership. The magazine sits under the standard Toyota header menu.
Notice the content is similar in format to that of many successful publishers – ‘14 things you didn’t know about Toyota hybrids’ is nicely illustrative.
There’s a great range, from new models to family pieces, to videos more suited to the petrol-head.
Nissan Leaf – Real owners, real questions
Again, this content is somewhat of a hybrid, between a community and a piece of marketing.
It’s quite immersive, with a mix of well made video and FAQ. The answers are from Leaf owners and are authentic and quite fun to read.
Content should be clearly branded so that they know who to attribute the content to. This is a difficult one to attribute to content marketing directly, but a metric you should be measuring is ‘brand’ searches - how many people are looking for you on Google. You can use the keyword planner, but it’s probably a better indication to use Google trends to monitor search popularity.
If you expect to launch your content marketing campaign and start seeing increased sales and revenue immediately, then you have the wrong idea about content marketing. The whole idea of content marketing is creating something for your customers to engage their interests and passions, and not yours! It’s a slow burner. Build up trust first through consistently delivering valuable content.
Of course, there are many more benefits to content marketing. However, dealers and manufacturers will always need to justify investment in content and increased SEO performance is one of the best ways to do this in the world of digital.
Many thanks to Tim Grice of Branded3.com whose blog ‘Why SEO objectives are fuelling content marketing growth’ inspired me share some of his observations that I fully support. To see his full article http://www.branded3.com/blogs/seo-objectives-fuelling-content-marketing-growth/."