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Content Marketing vs. Link Building: Which Should SEOs Focus On?

SEO

Whether you run your own blog, eCommerce platform or business website, brand advertisement is a constantly looming question worth thinking about. According to 99 Firms, 44% of website referral traffic goes through Google as it is the biggest global search engine out there, with 72% of marketers stating that content relevancy is the biggest challenge when it comes to SEO positioning.

Content marketing and link building both add to the overall SEO ranking and general positioning of your brand in their own respect, to varying degrees. Given that the nature of this question is complex, we will go through several points in regards to both content marketing and link building to unearth which approach to SEO would suit your needs the most. Let’s start off with the basics and go through the most poignant questions on the matter.

Basics of SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often considered the de facto deciding factor in a brand’s search engine relevancy. SEO trends are constantly shifting in favor of fresh topics, original keywords, and content relevant to individual search queries.

Technical optimization elements such as keyword density, content formatting, multimedia optimization, and link building are considered baseline requirements for brands that aim to reach the first page of Search Engine Result Page (SERP). However, balancing how much content you produce against how much attention you pay to link building (promoting your hyperlinks on other websites) is a matter of perspective.

Some businesses aim for split attention between the two while others (such as in the case of eCommerce sites) go for a totalitarian approach and place all of their resources into either one or the other. Both approaches are viable and neither is the wrong choice when it comes to search ranking optimization. With that said, optimal SEO will bring your brand certain perks that would otherwise not be available to you.

Advantages of SEO

When it comes to direct advantages related to SEO of your content and website as a whole, there are quite a few items to consider. According to Tech Jury, 93% of online experiences begin with search engine queries, while only 7% of users will go as far as the third page of SERP in order to find relevant content for their engagement.

This effectively means that businesses that don’t regard SEO as an important element of their online brand awareness strategy will effectively lose a tremendous amount of traffic to other brands. Applying the right combination of link building and content marketing to your website however can bring several advantageous points to your brand, including but not limited to:

  • Streamlined and accessible website User Experience (UX)
  • Higher engagement and conversion rates
  • Better brand positioning and industry authority
  • Better networking and affiliate marketing opportunities
  • High return on investment (ROI) in terms of incoming traffic and revenue

Without Content, There is No Link Building

An important point of discussion can be made in regards to choosing either content marketing or link building while completely disregarding the other side of the SEO equation. While possible, this type of approach to brand-building is ill-advised for several reasons.

For one, in order to practice efficient link building, you should have quality content available on your website, whether its blog posts, product pages or other forms of media. No platform, blog or business will promote your links or embed them in their content if there is no tangible value on the other side of the hyperlink. On the other hand, content marketing by itself might yield you positive SEO and traffic over time. However, without link building, your site will come off as very competitive and unfriendly when it comes to networking or cooperation with other businesses.

Without content, there is no link building to speak off in terms of organic SEO and traffic generation. Without link building, there is no high traffic or content engagement, leaving your site barren of leads or word of mouth. As we’ve mentioned previously, both of these SEO approaches offer valuable advantages – let’s dive deeper into each one to discover the minute details which will help you decide on the best combination of the two for your specific business and industry.

Content Marketing Gives your Site a Voice

In the proverbial sea of websites, having a distinct voice is one of the most essential aspects of brand positioning. Content marketing can give your website a voice in regards to how the audience perceives your products and services and differentiates it from others in your industry. Your business culture, long-term goals, company vision, and mission statement will all add to the effect of brand marketing for whoever decides to visit your website.

No amount of link building will ever manage to help your website “speak” to the audience through blog posts or creative product descriptions as content marketing is able to. Backing that content up with well-positioned links on competitive industry websites and aggregates will ensure that your site is reputable and professional in the eyes of stakeholders.

Link Building Promotes your Brand

Speaking of brand positioning, every industry is a competitive battlefield when it comes to vying for the customers’ attention. For better or worse, your website is one of many in a specific industry, with clearly positioned leaders, followers, and newly-launched businesses. Link building can ensure that your website is visible to potential customers, curious B2B clients, and individuals who might be interested in networking and collaboration.

You can spread your link building efforts to other, related industries and thus offer unique services to that website’s audience. For example, if you run a graphic design agency, positioning your links in the arts or photography blogging niches can do wonders for your lead generation. Find interesting niches to position your brand in and use existing content marketing materials as a precedent for those businesses to consider embedding your links into their pages for mutual benefit.

Content Marketing Boosts your UX

Once you attract an audience through your link building, it’s important to create some form of value for their time and (in case of products and services) money. Content marketing in the form of blog posts, detailed product portfolio descriptions and multimedia should be created to further cement your link building efforts. This will create an efficient loop for your SEO efforts and ensure that your visitors enjoy a well-thought-out UX as a result.

Link building without any relevant content or value to back the effort up will quickly deteriorate into your brand’s reputation as a spam website. Most importantly, your SEO ranking will drop as a result of link building which isn’t backed up by quality content in the placed hyperlinks. Strive for engaging UX on your website and work on your portfolio’s sales pitches, calls to action and other engagement opportunities before devoting your attention to outreach and link building.

Link Building is a Long-Term Gain

One notable factor to consider when it comes to link building is that it can provide your website, SEO and brand as a whole with long-term gain. Once your links are positioned on competitive websites and prolific industry portals, they will most likely stay there for the foreseeable future. Whether today, tomorrow or in two years, anyone who visits those particular pages will encounter your links and be tempted to follow up on them to see what value they hold for their interests.

Content marketing, on the other hand, leans more on current trends and what is considered a hot topic now as opposed to two years ago. If you write blog posts about topics which are stale and old news in everyone’s eyes, they won’t drive new traffic to your website and most certainly affect your SEO in a less than stellar way. In this aspect, link building holds a clear advantage but it should be noted that the content your links are embedded in will grow older over time, prompting you to seek new link building opportunities constantly.

SEO Mistakes to Avoid

To cap things off, it’s worth noting that not every SEO activity will hold net benefits for your website or ranking. Even too much of a good thing can become bad as a result of spam or overreliance on singular optimization activity. In that regard, let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent SEO pitfalls you should keep in mind in your content marketing and link building efforts going forward:

Poor Internal Sitemap

Your website’s internal structure will play a major role in the SEO ranking and visitor engagement efforts. In this aspect, you should categorize your links according to their content and role in your business. Gather all of your links into a sitemap and make the map accessible through your landing page for both your visitors’ and search engine algorithm’s benefit.

Content for Content’s Sake

There will always come a time of the year when content ideas simply run dry. When that happens, you shouldn’t start creating content for the sake of publishing “new” posts or pages on your website. Look for new trends to discuss, opinion piece topics to tackle and other forms of creative content marketing instead. Patience is a virtue in this regard; it will showcase that your brand is about quality more than it is about the sheer quantity of pages.

Content quality is another important thing search engine look at. It is always a good idea to work with a variety of usual tools, writing and translation services as well, such as TheWordPoint, Grammarly, Readability Score or Hemingway Editor, to ensure the relevance, high-quality and readability of their posts.

Lack of Website Auditing

Website audit is what is commonly referred to as “SEO spring cleaning”. Even though you should actively look for new opportunities for content marketing and link building, you should also tidy up your website on a semi-regular interval. Check your pages in regards to keywords, active links, ads and other content which will affect not only your SEO but the overall UX of your website. Don’t get caught with dead links, broken media or wrong keywords in your content by running an audit on your site every once in a while.

Best of Both Worlds (Conclusion)

When all is said and done, choosing between content marketing and link building shouldn’t be a mutually-exclusive choice. Find a healthy balance of both in regards to your brand’s marketing strategy, resources, networking and most importantly – product and service portfolio available for lead conversion.

Start with relevant content and look for link building opportunities that will be happy to work with you in terms of brand positioning going forward. Before you know it, you will settle into a routine of content marketing followed by link building in a production cycle which suits your staff and resources regardless of what popular trends or industry leaders might say on the highly subjective matter of either-or.

 

Author:
Erica Sunarjo is a communications professional with more than five years of experience. Erica runs her own blog BestWritersOnline and is proud of her an uncanny ability to explain the most complex subject in simple terms.