Why smarter content is the key to moving search marketing from its medieval era to the space age

Russ Mann (left), CEO of search marketing consultancy Covario, explains how brand marketers can produce smarter content and track it accurately around the internet.

Is your content as “dumb as a box of rocks,” or is it deliberately designed to be smarter – to be found, friended, followed and forwarded all around the web?

In this new renaissance of content marketing, much of the content being generated is being treated like basic ammunition. Articles, interviews, websites, brochures, coupons, TV shows, images and other communications are like the projectiles that were loaded onto catapults behind castle walls in the olden days. The largest boulder or flaming ball of sticks is hurled over the wall to try and impact as many people as possible, with very poor targeting and little in the way of control or measurement of results.

With the advent of digital marketing and advertising technologies, there has been more innovation in making paid digital advertising smarter in the past ten years than all the content creation of the previous 50 years. With the estimated $100 billion annually going into mostly display and search media, there has been a huge emphasis on cookies and pixels, technology and analytics, tracking and attribution and optimization – all in an effort to try and figure out which banner or search ads, on what publishing platforms, and in what sequence convinced the consumer or business buyer to take action.

But is it really the banner ads and search ads that drive the action? This seems to be a huge conceit of the media buyers, who are missing a key point: What about all the owned and earned content that brand marketers, advocates, influencers and consumers create on their own? What influence does brand and content have on the end action of consumers?

Because of the focus on paid advertising, most of the content launched by brands to this day is still poorly researched and planned. It’s barely targeted, manually created, and provides limited if any metrics on who saw or shared it, where it was passed along, and where it ended up.

Consumers have made their preferences clear. The major search engines have acknowledged the value of compelling social signals when it comes to organic search page visibility. Smarter search strategies and strong SEO results require a smarter approach to content that is timely, relevant, and responds to a consumer’s particular need at a given moment. The kind of content I’m talking about identifies with specific topics, trends and target personas in real time.

With the right tools, this smarter content can be generated through automation, or manually created content can be augmented for the author or blogger with suggested insertions, images, videos and links – all of which add value in both the eyes of consumers and the algorithms of search engines.

Really smart content identifies the best place and time to launch itself. Post-launch it can continue to adapt and optimize itself – its languages, images and other attributes in real time. Smarter SEO through Smarter Content includes analytics that report back to the person or brand marketer who created the content. This includes letting its originators know where it’s been and in what context, plus how it is being found, who is seeing it, sharing it, and acting upon it. With this smart content, you’ll also know whether it’s been copied or modified, and ultimately where it and its modified versions ended up.

Instead of a big dumb rock on a catapult, imagine that your content is like the Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity – deliberately researched and planned, precisely targeted, machine-engineered and launched to go further, be self-energizing, and report back everything it finds and experiences.

That’s how to turn your content from a dumb box of rocks to smarter SEO and discovery marketing.

This post was originally published on the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) website.

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