Are You Really a Content Marketer or Just an SEO?
After the so called Google Penguin update many people in the SEO industry embraced content marketing.
So far so good. In a way SEO was always about content. Why not name the game accordingly?
Yes, true. Yet some of them tried to join the bandwagon and rebrand themselves as content marketers completely.
Do you really have to give up the SEO moniker or rather drop search engine optimization services altogether?
Spoiler alert: You don’t have to. Hear me out though. There are valid reasons for still practicing SEO.
New and Shiny Content Marketing vs Dirty Old SEO
Many articles saying “we’re all content marketers now” have been written.
A few articles have been published that express the opposite conviction too.
They argue that content marketing is a bit made up as a term, that it’s just old wine in new bottles etc.
For years I have been struggling to deal with the pretty negative reputation of SEO.
Still I decided to stick to it even though I also attempted to create my own flavor of it, “SEO 2.0” or social SEO.
After a few years it was clear that the term SEO 2.0 hasn’t caught on.
At the same time many of the things I was hailing as SEO 2.0 throughout the years have become mainstream.
The Hidden Revolution
SEO 2.0 techniques like relationship building are industry best practices right now. It’s social SEO and content SEO now.
In most cases I wasn’t even involved in that change, it was just the evolution of the Internet that made it necessary.
With every new term that comes up describing my work I always wonder, is it me, do I still practice SEO?
Or do I practice social media marketing for example (that was the most popular term for a time)?
One year inbound marketing was the most popular term. Next year it was content marketing. The focus is always on marketing it seems.
Holistic Optimization or Just Marketing?
I never wanted to limit myself to just marketing, or to practice advertising and only care for sales.
Optimization for me is far broader than marketing and encompasses disciplines that solely sales-oriented marketing does not.
Optimization is a holistic approach that does not solely focus on money.
While I was watching the rising popularity of the term content marketing, especially among (former) SEOs I was wondering myself how to identify myself.
Are you really a content marketer or just an SEO?
In a way I was always a content marketer because I was blogging even before I became an SEO. Additionally business blogging and creation of flagship content was my one of most important means of getting links along relationship building.
What Does Content Marketing Consist of?
Over the years I was mostly blogging. I didn’t create lots of other content types. For content marketing you have to branch out to:
- white papers
- print magazines
These and many others all part of content marketing though. All of these media types are widely used in content marketing.
Just blogging or creating content to get links doesn’t make you a content marketer. There is certainly an overlap.
Creating infographics has been widely practiced by SEO agencies.
I say agencies not practitioners because as an SEO consultant you won’t in many cases have the skills to create an infographic yourself. You at least in need a graphic designer.
You will probably like to add a statistician to your team so that the data you display is meaningful as well. I have helped teams to create infographic but would not create one myself.
Content Marketing Competition
Yes, I blog and I create flagship content to get links and beyond. Yes, I even focus on audiences not search engines when creating content (aka writing) but still that doesn’t make me a content marketer.
OK, so you are part of an interdisciplinary team, you create all of the above mentioned media types. You focus on audiences of real people, not search engine bots. You might be a content marketer.
When you have made a name for yourself in the SEO industry you might think twice before changing your profession to a full time content marketer.
Why? Just look up in Google who you are competing with. There is not even one search related publication that ranks there despite them writing about the topic as well. You have to compete for attention with the likes of
- Content Marketing Institute
These are authority domains that are much more relevant than yours. Even I – having a20 year old authority domain – can’t cope.
Are You Just an SEO or Blogger?
You’re not into infographics, webinars and online presentations? You are not a YouTuber, Instagram influencer or huge on Pinterest?
No problem! In case you mostly do
- keyword research
- onsite optimization
- content creation
- link building or earning links
- social media optimization
keep calm and go on. You are an SEO.
You blog most of the time? Then you are still a blogger, a business blogger probably
unless you are just a hobbyist writing privately. There is no need to follow the latest hype. Adding more media types to your content production is a good idea though.
Copywriting vs Content Creation
On the other hand: in case you are a “copywriter” you better follow the lead of Copyblogger and rebrand yourself as a content marketer or better strategist.
Copywriting was always a bit narrow!
but on the Web it just doesn’t suffice anymore. “Website copy” is not enough in 2022. It hasn’t been for a few years.
You have to do actual content management and that most likely includes at least blogging, social media and search optimization.
I would choose content strategy myself but most people seem to prefer marketing though.
Writing for online audiences is far more than about copy by now. Content management is also commonly used by 2022.
It is with great fascination observing the SEO community boil content marketing down to the act of creating information in various media types or simply copywriting.
I agree that the notion of optimization is a bigger concept in terms of an approach to hypothesis to solve a problem, implementation and continuous refinement.
In the end it’s about connecting people with a need to products & services that solve problems or desires. It’s all just marketing.
Companies have been creating custom content to attract, engage and convert consumers since John Deere came out with the first corporate magazine in the late 1800’s to P&G’s efforts towards Soap Operas (to sell soap) in the 50’s and until today.
Amex OPEN, GenMills tablespoon.com, Costco Magazine and many other offline and online content focused efforts to build community, create utility and usefulness about the things that lead to interest, consideration and purchase are all around us.
Content Marketing to create demand and make the connection to purchase and even retain and advocate is nothing new.
The question, “Are You Really a Content Marketer or Just an SEO?” makes me think, “SEO’s You’re all Marketers, Now Get On With It”.
I prefer good old fasioned internet marketing myself, as it covers the many different disciplines required to be an SEO!
it’s difficult as a practitioner to define. here are some things i personally struggle with:
– branding-wise “SEO” does not have an awesome rep within the broader business world
– many times, what one does is not aptly reflected in their elected ‘job title’
– our own industry can’t even decide what is SEO, inbound marketing, content marketing, so on.. not really a huge deal as long as you’re helping clients (THE BIG PICTURE)
..meh..just let me be a ninja like i always wanted ..
Tom: I understand that. Personally I never wanted to be a marketer. Also it’s not really clear what an Internet marketer actually does. The term is too broad.
Anthony: Yeah, all of your points are true. I never was happy with the way people treated me when I said I’m doing SEO.
Btw. Have you read the article I shared a few weeks ago about the guy who made his dream come true and who became a ninja in Japan?