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The Message or the Messenger: What Makes SEO Successful?

The Message or the Messenger: What Makes SEO Successful?

Is content king? Is SEO dead? Neither is right.Every time I hear the phrase “content is king,” I cringe. That phrase is probably the second most over-used cliche in the SEO industry—right behind “SEO is dead.” Yet, they both have something in common: They’re not right, but not completely wrong, either.

SEO has certainly evolved over the last decade and that likely will continue. Much of what SEO was 10 years ago is surely dead today, but that stuff was never considered good Web marketing anyway. Good SEO continues to thrive as it continues to evolve.

Content is still a very important part of an online marketing strategy, but it is not the end-all of a successful campaign. It’s a crucial piece, but content alone is not enough, despite what we have been taught to believe by the search engines. Just because you write it does not mean it will drive traffic!

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The Importance of Content

In any marketing medium, your content is your message. If your content sucks, your message sucks. I could think of a dozen movies that would have been infinitely better had they been written by more skillful hands. The concept was cool, but it just utterly failed to deliver.

Poor writing can make a good concept go bad. Think about that as you build your website and engage in online marketing. Crappy content can make your marketing efforts dead in the water before you even launch.

Every website needs a message. Think of the Web like TV advertising vs. radio advertising. You can’t produce a good radio ad without content, but the same is not true with TV, since you can use pictures to help tell your story. However, most TV ads contain content anyway—either verbally or via words on the screen—to go along with the pretty pictures.

There is a reason for this: Content sells. In fact, if you look, you’ll notice content in the most unlikely of places! Pick up a bag of chips and you can read the “story” of the chips’ journey to mouthwatering deliciousness. Go to any museum and you can learn about what you’re seeing via content plaques on the wall. Pass by any billboard and you see words of content that help the pictures sell the products.

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The power and value of content cannot be underestimated. Yet, there is more to this story to make content successful.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Content without a message delivery system is like a vehicle without an engine, a bike without tires, and a script without an actor. How many times have you walked away from a movie thinking it was pretty good, just not great? You liked it, but something just didn’t gel with you.

Most people probably don’t realize how easily it is to destroy a great script because it was delivered through bad actors, bad directors, bad editing, bad sound, bad music, or studio mismanagement. This isn’t the fault of the content, it’s the fault of those who are in charge of the vehicles in which the content is delivered.

This means that the messenger is equally as important as the message in creating a successful online marketing campaign. And in online marketing, there are plenty of ways to screw up the message delivery: SEO, PPC, Twitter, Facebook, link building, etc. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to implement excellent message delivery: SEO, PPC, Twitter, Facebook, link building, etc.

Unfortunately, most Web marketing campaigns revolve around OK content with OK delivery. But, too often, when people embark on Web marketing campaigns, they focus on either the delivery or the content. This means they are either doing a great job of pushing mostly useless content or they have great content that isn’t really hitting the target audience.

Either way, it’s a fail.

Content can be king, but king of what? Without the messenger to deliver the content, it’s a very small kingdom indeed. Both the message and the messenger play an equal role in the success of your online marketing efforts. Just like a movie must have a great script along with great actors, directors, etc. in order to be a blockbuster (Transformers 1-3 are the clear exceptions!), your online marketing efforts need a balance of both great content and great content delivery, regardless of what medium you choose to deliver them in.


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Stoney G deGeyter

VP Search and Advertising at The Karcher Group

Stoney deGeyter is 20+ year digital marketing veteran and the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period! Follow ... [Read full bio]

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