How Content Marketing and SEO Overlap

Content marketing has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. This often prompts the tired old claim that SEO is dead of course. It isn’t, but it has had to adapt and evolve to suit the modern web just as other disciplines – such as web design – have had to. Now, good SEO is not just about link building, keywords and technical SEO, it’s about social, content and building relationships too.

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Here is an interesting and informative article by an Aussie, about the interplay between content marketing and SEO. But the author, like most, fails to emphasize the niche factor.

In my law firm marketing book, I use the example of a random set of characters, such as jqa8t9q03u5134. If you create a site containing the keyword jqa8t9q03u5134, and someone searches for jqa8t9q03u5134, I guarantee your site will come up on the first page of Google for the keyword. Most likely, it will be the only site returned.

So what is the point of this story? Regardless of what the SEO experts proclaim, no matter how thin or young your site is, and regardless of whether it has any incoming links or any of the other secret sauce they claim is necessary to achieve page one results, your site will rank well if it is niched down enough. In this example, jqa8t9q03u5134 is about as niche as you can get.

By way of illustration, I posted this article, and then went back the next day to search for it on google. Before checking, I searched for the term “personal injury attorney”. Google returned a nice even 107,000,000 results for personal injury attorney.

Then I searched for “jqa8t9q03u5134”. It was already indexed by Google, and Google returned just six results, all of them for this article. [**See below for an explanation of why it came up six times, and why that is not necessarily good.] Bing and Yahoo did the same, although Yahoo returned some rather odd sponsored links as well, as in, “Save money on jqa8t9q03u5134!”

So, in one day, I not only got this article on the first page of the Google results, but I completely DOMINATE the search engine results for jqa8t9q03u5134. I pity those poor personal injury attorneys who are trying to be found amoung 107,000,000 search results, when I totally own jqa8t9q03u5134.

Of course, I am unlikely to gain any business from jqa8t9q03u5134, but that is not the point. Rather, the point is that every time you create an article, webpage or website, remember the tale of jqa8t9q03u5134, and consider where you are falling on the niche index. Of course not all articles can be niched down to the level of my made-up character string, but the more narrow you can make your topic, the better you will rank.

For more specific and real world examples, see my article How to Pick a Niche Practice.

** The reason that Google returned my article six times in its search results is because of my use of categories. When you post an article in WordPress, you can assign it to certain categories. There are a number of reasons for doing so, the primary ones being that it creates a quick index for my readers and aids in SEO.

For example, I thought this article would be useful for both those starting their own firms, and attorneys with established firms, so I clicked the categories “starting your own firm” and “practice of law”. A reader wanting to see articles I've written on starting your own firm can click on that category and all the articles will be filtered.

Sorry for that basic discussion, but I needed to set the stage.

From an SEO standpoint, Google sees each category as separate content, as in, “Oh, here's an article about content marketing under starting your own firm, and here's another article about content marketing under the practice of law.” The problem with that is that Google sees them as duplicate content on your site, and Google doesn't like duplicate content.

On the other hand, when I do test searches, sometimes an article comes up in the search results specifically because of the category name.

The bottom line is that categories are useful and can be beneficial to SEO, but they can also work against you, so use them sparingly. I used to assign half a dozen categories to a typical article, and that was probably not wise.

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