How do you guarantee share of voice on the Internet today? Since the rise of modern web search engines in the 1990s, marketers have tended to focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and crafty keyword placement as the path to success. On today’s Internet, however, that approach falls short. Keep reading to learn why SEO alone will not support your marketing strategy, and why you also need high-quality and well-planned content—especially in egregiously competitive markets like tech.
How Most People Try to Get Noticed on the Web
If you manage online content, your strategy for getting noticed probably revolves around trying to make sure your web pages are ranked well by search engines.
Because the algorithms behind most search engines are not public, the best marketers can do is to try to guess how to make search engines rank their content highly. In most cases, their strategy revolves around sprinkling in keywords at strategic points in a blog post or article, and generating quality incoming links.
If you do your SEO job well, the search engine gods will reward you with a high volume of traffic to your site. You’ll get lots of clicks, and everyone will be happy—Right?
Why SEO Falls Short
Driving traffic to your site is one thing. Bringing in qualified leads and building genuine interest in your products or services is another.
If you make SEO the foundation of your online marketing strategy, you’ll come up far short of achieving optimal results. Consider the following:
- SEO is a fuzzy, ambiguous practice. The search engines don’t tell you much about what exactly they like and dislike when they rank your page. Getting good search results depends largely on luck—and that’s no way to build a marketing strategy.
- Because SEO is so fuzzy, it’s hard to measure the impact of SEO efforts concretely. Sure, you can measure how SEO tweaks align with changes in traffic to your website, but there’s no good way to know whether an increase in site traffic is the result of positive SEO changes, or just the time of year. For this reason, you won’t know whether the time you’re spending on SEO-based marketing efforts is actually paying off.
- SEO is a poor way to generate qualified leads. In most cases, only a fraction of the people who visit your site after searching for a relevant keyword or term are actually potential customers.
- In fact, placing too much emphasis on SEO can actually harm your blog (which we’ve explained in another post).
- Even when your SEO efforts bring qualified leads to your site, those visitors won’t stick around long if they find keyword-infested content that lacks genuine meaning. They’ll just click the Back button and go on to the next vendor’s site in search of quality content.
Why Quality Content Matters Most
That brings us to the main point, which is that in order to win at online marketing, the most important thing is creating quality content, not SEO-optimized content.
Quality content means articles, blog posts, images or even video that people actively consume, remember and share with each other. It’s content that teaches them something new, offers a valuable resource, entertains them or otherwise makes a real impact. As such, it’s also content that increases your share of voice as well as your share of conversation.
Keyword-infused blog posts don’t do any of the above unless they also contain quality content.
Quality content brings you qualified leads because people share and discuss it with their friends or colleagues, and their opinions regarding which content matters most will have a much greater impact than the rankings of a search engine.
Quality Content Matters Even More in Tight Markets (Like DevOps)
Posting compelling, high-quality content is especially important if you work in a highly competitive market, such as DevOps—a space Fixate knows well. It’s the kind of content that requires careful planning.
That’s because in these markets, there are many websites competing for a very small number of eyeballs. The websites that stand out are the ones that offer compelling content, rather than lots of well-placed keywords. In the tech market, they’re the ones with content that’s written by practitioners.
Consider, for example, what happens if you search for a term like “container monitoring.” You’ll see three or four vendors mentioned in the first page of results.
Which page are you most likely to click on? An article that discusses the mechanics of container monitoring in a technically deep and relevant way, or a product page that mentions container monitoring in a generic way but doesn’t teach you anything new about it?
Most people would click the former. Then, after they’d read the article, they’d share it with other people with an interest in container monitoring.
If even just a half-dozen people read and engage with the content, the vendor that hosts it will receive a big benefit. In DevOps and other tech markets, most companies are not looking to make 10,000 sales each week. If they can land just a few enterprise customers every month, they’ll be doing well.
There’s nothing wrong with SEO. You can and should try to make your online content SEO-friendly. But SEO shouldn’t be your core focus. What matters most is meaningful, technically deep content that gets appreciated and shared. With quality content, you cut through the noise and maximize your share of voice as well as your share of conversation.
This post was originally published in February 2019 and updated in July 2022.