Below is an article I authored for Rio SEO’s Expert SEO and Social Media Insights blog.
It seems that every industry article I read these days mentions the value of quality content. If you’re like me, over the last year you’ve heard the term, “Content is King” so frequently that you’re ready to pull out your hair. While I do believe this is a grossly overused statement, my objection is not solely targeted on the frequency of its use, but also with the accuracy (or lack thereof) around the statement itself.
Content is Not a King.
Google defines the word king as, “The male ruler of an independent state, esp. one who inherits the position by right of birth.” In relation to content, it’s the final detail of the definition that troubles me. Content does not inherit search engine ranking position by right of birth. It takes a number of signals to elect that content into a highly ranked SERP position. Essentially, the web population or searchers, vote the content into its respective position. We vote with our page linkage, our social sharing and page click through rate on the SERP’s. Content is not a monarchy, but an Internet democracy experiencing a continuous election for SERP presidency
This is why Social has become so critical to search engine optimization; not that we need any more reason to utilize the progressive SEO channel. Social is the ability to vote content into position. This is also why I respectfully disagree with Matt Cutts’ belief in an exclusive focus on content creation for elevating search rankings. Content is only one part of a now larger initiative as SEO Managers become Online Marketers. Consider newly published content as candidates running for office. Although the candidate may be highly qualified and capable, the people still need to know their identity and the knowledge they offer. This is why candidates, at least the successful ones, will campaign for political elections. Attaining a worthy background holds no value for candidates with minimal exposure; so instead of sitting at home waiting to be discovered, candidates use campaigning to promote themselves and their intentions. It is also why great content creation must be followed by great content promotion, which includes link building and social distribution. You are essentially campaigning your content to be viewed and consumed by as many people as possible, with the expectation that you have something unique and valuable to offer. In turn, they will vote your content into desired search positions with their linking and social sharing.
Let’s take another example, one that looks at more traditional marketing techniques around brand management. Companies like IBM and Microsoft have some of the most recognized brand names in the world. Yet they still run ads? They still promote their brands? Why? Because even with internationally recognized brands promoting still provides significant value in controlling the brands identity and communicating its importance. Content is very similar. Great content can be just like a great brand, requiring regular promotion and audience engagement to maintain business success. This is why social is so critical to SEO. You could forget about chasing SEO algorithms, dismiss the fact that they are increasing their social inputs, and still find success with this approach. That is because it’s the same approach traditional marketers have been applying for years and years.
Want to win the ranking position election? Make sure you focus on proper content promotion in addition to quality content creation.