Mastering content strategy in the new era of SEO

The release of Google’s Penguin algorithm back in 2012 marked a big change for SEO strategy and required marketers to re-think the way they were producing content and achieving their rankings. Subsequent releases and updates have made it clear that Google is trying to drag us back to the good old days of the internet when the whole point of having a website was to distribute information, and links between sites were completely natural and offered value. The internet has become cluttered with a lot of rubbish, and search engines are working hard to separate valuable content producers from trashy time-wasters. fmon As a marketer or business owner, if you’re still following old-school SEO techniques, it’s time for change.

5 link-building tactics you need to STOP

If you’re still using any of these traditional means to build links to your site or blog, they may well be doing more harm than good to your rankings:

1. Directories

Directories used to be a great place to create links, but now very few directories are given any great value by Google. Some will even have a negative impact on your rankings. By all means get listed on any that are highly respected in your industry, but don’t keep firing off your details to directories left right and centre.

2. Commenting on blogs and forums

The introduction of the ‘nofollow’ tag made including links on comments, for the most part, a waste of time. However there are plenty of SEOs who still haven’t caught on to this and continue to pursue this outdated technique. If you’re participating in discussions on forums as part of your content strategy then there’s no harm in including a link, but if you’ve been putting your efforts into commenting just for the sake of building links, your time would be much better spent elsewhere (creating some quality content, for example).

3. Paid links

This one remains somewhat divisive, but Google’s Penguin algorithm made it clear that paying for links in bulk was not the way forward. This strategy might look like it’s delivering results for now, but it’s probably not worth the risk – especially as you never know what Google might change in its next release.

4. Web 2.0

Web 2.0 has all but disappeared these days, just fading into the background among everything else that’s going on online. Blogging on platforms like Blogger and WordPress still works as part of a wider content strategy, but as a link-building technique it’s had its day.

5. Link exchange

This was one of the first to go. It’s been years since Google announced that any links which appeared to be reciprocal would be devalued, but there are still plenty of people out there wasting their precious resources on asking webmasters to trade links with them.

So is that it for link building?

Although Penguin’s primary focus is on targeting unnatural backlinks, that doesn’t mean you should give up on linking altogether. Paid links, link exchanges and other such ‘quick win’ techniques have been rendered ineffective, but organic links, particularly from high-ranking sites, still count for a lot. The only way you’ll get these is by creating unique, high-quality content and then promoting it appropriately. Enter: content strategy.

What is a content strategist?

Content strategists look beyond the quantity of links they can achieve to a much broader level of customer engagement and adding value. They focus on ways to gain traffic through a number of organic sources; not just through search engines. In the past, SEO was very much about numbers and algorithms and understanding what would tick Google’s boxes. Now that the search engines are getting much more sophisticated, there’s a lot more to high rankings than keyword stuffing, backlinks and anchor text. It’s a content strategist’s role to think of ways a company can produce valuable content that can be distributed across a range of channels, and from there the traffic should start to roll in. Great content contributes towards:
  • building brand reputation and recognition
  • social engagement
  • backlinks
  • stronger relationships
  • lasting value
  • (and through all of the above) more traffic
Links are still useful and will support your rankings, but they can’t do all the hard work alone; they must be backed up by top quality content.

5 reasons to turn your SEO efforts to content strategy

1. Value will get your noticed

Google wants its users to have access to valuable information that directly addresses their query. To do this, Google needs to identify valuable websites and display them right at the top of search results. This is easier said than done when there’s so much junk already in existence and it’s being added to every minute, but the staff at Google are pretty smart and they’re constantly finding ways to make their search tool better at rooting out the rubbish. Good content doesn’t rely on any tricks or underhand tactics to get you rating higher; if the stuff you’re producing is good enough it will do the hard work all by itself.

2. You’ll gain a following

Readers don’t care how many backlinks you have but they do care about content that’s insightful, engaging and thought-provoking. Content strategy makes use of blogs and social media to build a community of people who are interested in your brand and in what you have to say – and these people make the best kind of potential customer.

3. Google loves it

If there’s anything that Google’s past algorithm updates have taught us, it’s that those trying to play the system will eventually get caught. Yes, you might find a new way to generate traffic with minimal effort and yes, it may work for a while, but you never know what Google is about to do next. By going ‘au naturel’ with your content strategy, you have nothing to worry about.

4. You benefit in more ways

Link building has one single purpose: to get higher in search rankings and deliver more traffic. With content strategy you’re achieving this while also building a reputation for your brand and raising people’s awareness of what you do and where your expertise lies. By forming this connection with people you’re increasing the likelihood of them buying from you rather than your competitors.

5. The viral factor

Have you ever seen a link go viral? No, didn’t think so. Only amazing content does this. Create something thoroughly shareable and you’ll find your traffic and backlinks naturally building as a result.

6. We never said it would be easy

Content strategy might sound like a no-brainer for SEO, but there’s a good reason why not everyone is doing it. As you might have guessed, it takes time and resources to plan, create and promote content that’s good enough to gain a following. Only businesses that take a long-term view and understand the value of building a brand that engages and adds value will bother investing in content. Those which are still after a quick-win approach can continue chasing their tails and second-guessing how to get ahead.


In the new era of SEO, content is king and there’s no denying it. A good content strategy will deliver:
  • a broad range of content including blog posts, videos, eBooks, infographics, etc.
  • a large but relevant subscriber base
  • connections with other publishers and leaders in your industry
  • greater social media followings and interactions
  • an authoritative and respected brand
  • naturally higher rankings and increased traffic volumes
It does require some work on your part, but it’ll be worth it. If you’d like to know how can help you with your content strategy at the planning, creation and distribution stages, you can get in touch here.