Digital marketers today face a difficult SEO dilemma. What's more rewarding: keyword marketing and link building or content marketing? What are the arguments for and against choosing one approach over the other?


In this post, we'll address what you should be doing to improve your search traffic: classic SEO with techniques like keyword targeting and link building or full on content marketing.

Classic SEO

First, lets talk about classic SEO techniques that have worked in the past. This includes keyword targeting and of course link building. Now, in classic search engine optimization, as an online marketer, you research and compile a number of keywords to target. These are the keywords you are going to go after and you will go all out to find ways to earn links. To help you rank for your keywords, you will probably do a bit of comparative analysis: you will study how other people are ranking for your target keywords. On-page SEO also helps websites rank for certain keywords but its mostly about finding opportunities for link building.

Despite all the Google search algorithm updates, many marketers still invest in classic SEO and it does work. Sure, its harder now to find opportunities over the web to build quality links. Trying to get your site listed somewhere might still work to an extent but its getting tougher to obtain quality links that can be considered legal and SEO friendly in the eyes of the search engines. Marketers need to do some direct outreach and direct link building. The process is no longer as passive as it used to be whereby marketers would wait for links to roll in or as easy as just submitting to a few resource/directory sites. Link building is effective if the links are built from sites where it wouldn't normally be easy to obtain a link.

With classic keyword targeting and link building, you can move up the SERPs. Being patient and persistent in this approach surely helps as it does take time to build such links and over a period of time you will be rewarded by outranking your competition in the search engines. Natural and SEO friendly links are, after all, still very much a big part of both the search algorithms of Google and Bing.

Content Marketing

Now, on the other hand, we have content marketing. In content marketing, you need to look at the bigger picture. You need to:

  1. Identify your audience
  2. Understand the demographics of the people in your target audience
  3. Identify the channels appropriate to distribute your content
  4. Understand the importance of social media

For content marketing, you need to identify who your target audience is. You need to know where your readers are and what they are doing there. You will then create content to appeal to your readers, the people you are directly reaching out to. The content you create can be a blog posts, a webinar, an infographic, or a video, etc.

Once this first step is completed, you will then need to do some influencer outreach. This will usually include some smart keyword targeting on Google, going social, reaching out to your audience and sometimes email marketing.

The end goals of doing all of this is to increase traffic to your webpages, hopefully grow a loyal community around your business, and most important of all -- get customers.

The key thing to remember for content marketing is this: if you create real value content, more people will follow your social accounts and subscribe for your emails.

Link Building vs. Content Marketing

One thing to keep in mind is that Google search algorithms keep getting updated and increasingly how many linking root domains you have is becoming less important. The search engines are getting smarter. But one thing that has remained relatively constant over the years is the huge powering force of quality content.

Content marketing is a powerful technique in itself. It helps in acquiring new customers, build long term relationships with the present ones and creating engagement by providing quality information. It can help a business in building authoritative brand presence online as well as credibility, which, most people are on the lookout for in this online world.

People today are more interested in receiving information from companies they believe in. This in turn leads to customer loyalty which is the primary reason marketers across the globe use content marketing for.

Moreover content marketing itself can form a major chunk of ones link building strategy as effective, quality and unique content can help in building natural, SEO friendly quality backlinks as well as relationships.