Where SEO Started – And Why It Never Worked For The Consumer
If you’re old enough to remember the early days of Google, you’ll find this familiar:
“If you’ve been searching for the best barbershop in Queens or the best barber shop near me, we’ve got you covered! We offer the best hair cutting for men, hair styling, classy haircuts and other services at the best Queens barber shop in your area.”
Google launched AdSense in 2003 – and that led to the proliferation of aggressively optimized cheap copy like the one above.
And it worked. Bloggers were making money playing the keyword-stuffing game, and sites with zero value for the consumer turned into revenue-generating machines.
You’d find blurbs like the Queens barber shop above on rank & rent websites – sites that weren’t built for a specific local business, but just made to rank for specific keywords and then sold to the highest bidder.
The result was a ton of weak content that ranked great – and Google took its sweet time addressing that.
Before moving forward, please take the time to read this interesting and somehow controversial article where you’ll discover why legit content marketing is the future:
How Good Content Overtook Technical SEO
Fast forward to the late 2010s and the early 2020s, and Google has become pretty good at weeding out that type of aggressively technical SEO with zero value behind it.
Today, smart brands use smart content to give Google what it wants.
And Google wants what the consumer wants: relevance, specificity, and engagement.
In other words, Google wants good content.
Here’s why that changes the content marketing-vs-SEO debate:
1) Content Marketing Is Strategic, SEO Is Tactical
In chess, strategy is all about the long-term goals – and tactics, which are quick plays that give you a temporary advantage, will often backfire.
Content marketing done right builds strategic value over time. Your brand gives consumers the information they care about, and doing that consistently for years makes people trust you – and Google is much better at noticing that than it was 10 or 15 years ago.
Just six months down the line, the content-focused brand is growing – and spending much less – than the competitor splurging on SEO.
2) Good SEO Is Rare & Costs More
… way more than it takes to build value over time with content marketing. Make no mistake – there are solid approaches to SEO, but they’re never flashy. They don’t rank your site overnight. Great SEO takes months or even years and massive investment, and most small businesses simply don’t have the resources for that.
Content marketing is easier to manage and much more affordable – and the focus is narrower and makes more sense.
You don’t have to worry about 90 technical site parameters.
All you have to focus on is answering questions your prospects care about.
3) Legit Content Is Google-Update-Proof
Changes in Google’s cryptic algorithms routinely make this or that SEO technique tank, which leads to sharp drops in ranking for sites backed by seven-figure SEO budgets – but that never happens with genuine content.
Done right and followed through, genuinely useful content is always going to help the reader – and Google keeps getting better at recognizing that.
If you’re a small business, the last thing you want to do is focus on technical SEO – it’s probably going to cost a lot, and it’s unlikely to work.
Investing in strategic long-term content marketing is going to get you the visibility you want… and it’s going to cost you much less in the long run.