A host of information transpired as Eric Enge, from Stone Temple Consulting, interviewed Google’s Matt Cutts. A number of topics were thrashed out, mostly pertaining to link building. It helped to dispel and clarify common myths reigning about link building, and the predominant part of the interview revolved around the following words uttered by Cutts.

They pointed out that link building can have positive and negative impact. In the online space, the rule of thumb has reigned stating that the more compelling some content is, the more people would take to it and recommend it, and link to it. What lies in the basis of the problem is the fact that in modern web marketing people approach that rule backwards, starting with the links and thinking that success will come with a lot of links built.

“Not all link building is bad. The philosophy that we’ve always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it. And so a lot of people approach it from a direction that’s backwards. They try to get the links first and then they want to be grandfathered in or think they will be a successful website as a result.”

As is clear from the above, the focus of attention during the interview Enge had with Mat Cutts was on today’s web marketing. Then Enge shared some ideas he had gleaned from the talk on the basis of the themes discussed. As he said, the essence that Matt Cutts gave was the following: it is time to reorder priorities and rethink them when online marketing is concerned.

SEO Starts to Resemble Conventional Marketing

In fact, that was one of the topics that Cutts dwelt on, and as he said, “SEO is moving steadily towards becoming more of a traditional marketing-type discipline.” Then he went on to point out that until recently the common notion of web marketing was that in the online space marketing was achieved by the stoke of a magic wand, and any action yielded results in terms of search traffic augmentation. People thought all was fair in their marketing strategy and nothing was going to harm the radiance of their brands. That was why poor quality content was churned out in large amounts, and its authors were not bothered as they were aware people did not read it.

As Cutts said, “SEO used to be this thing that people thought of as happening in the dark corners of the web where you could do anything you wanted and magically, you’d get more search traffic. More importantly, they thought they could do anything they wanted and it wouldn’t impact their brand. For example, they could publish crappy content, and since no one ever read it, it didn’t matter.”

Then Cutts reminded that Google is particularly discerning when it is a matter of good or bad links. That means link building should be increasingly thought of as part and parcel of the building of online image and brand, and for that reason it should be implemented in a smart manner. Webmasters and content publishers should think of the two as one whole.

„What’s really clear now as Google enforces its policies for good and bad links, for example, is that publishers are going to be pushed more and more into viewing link building as an integral component of brand building and vice versa, as a component of brand building is really smart link building. Those two things are going to be harder to separate.”

Cutts reminded that a vast number of people build links in order to boost their rankings in Google, whereas the approach should be geared towards the building of websites that would be liked and recommended by word of mouth, so that more people would link to such sites and thus naturally help in the building of links, to achieve quality, sustainable rankings.

The Plan Should Be Like in Traditional Marketing

As Enge said, “Just because Google doesn’t currently enforce something doesn’t mean they condone it.” So it is wrong to approach marketing strategies striving to employ what methods can go unsanctioned, because that is not a viable plan. The question is, how to make SEOs and businesses to deviate from the temptations of modern link building tactics and adopt the traditional marketing direction which Cutt called “good old fashioned marketing”.

For the purpose, as Enge said, webmasters and business site owners should start from a clean slate and forget what they know about online marketing. As Enge said, the manner in which people should interact with search engines has changed dramatically, and the online space has changed too. It is time to brace up and face difficult issues regarding the marketing tactics to employ. So Enge illustrated his words by describing how his company undertakes link evaluation, and also outlined the criteria they employ:

  • Whether it would be worth obtaining a link supposing there were no Google and no Bing
  • Whether the link would be good enough to be shown to prospective customers
  • Whether the link would be worthy of being shown by the builder to the builder’s kids
  • Whether the link is genuinely an endorsement by its provider
  • Whether the link would need to be defended in a discussion

As Enge underlined, there should be no dubious matters with respect to links. People should be certain that the links they build are of good quality and will be harnessed for good marketing, and for the purpose they would evaluate them from the viewpoint of marketers. But first of all it was time to rethink and reorder priorities. The good old knowledge of online marketing should be left aside, and SEOs and website owners should start from scratch. It is true such reordering can be grueling, but the efforts will be rewarded for those who are willing to meet the challenge and deal with it with a good deal of commitment.

“But the first and most important step is to completely re-engineer your approach. Forget what you knew and practiced before, and start with a blank slate. It can be challenging, but smart people who are willing to adapt can make the shift. You just have to be committed to it,” Enge said.

Enge reminded that the technical side of SEO in this respect is still valid. Matters such as on-page optimization, markup of Schema type, rel=author, ensuring that websites are crawlable and go up well on the two major search engines continue to be high on the agenda. The very link building and the promotional aspect of brands are the areas where comprehensive changes are under way.

Focusing on Strategy Quality

To conform to the changes, quality should be in the limelight. Cutts specially pointed out that the threshold for content quality should be raised at all costs, and that should be particularly so with guest blogging. In all cases where it is a matter of link building, it is essential to produce quality content. Content should be regarded as really part and parcel of company brands, so the expert approach will be the winning one.

For raising the brand prominence, it is important that the content should feature prominently. It should be original and informative. It should not dwell on topics that are frequently written on but should provide news.

Content marketing, as Enge stressed, depends on what is being contributed, and that is a question that content authors and specifically post authors should answer. Especially on highly prominent blogs guest posting should be done by contributing genuine, unique thoughts vested in great level style. But that does not mean that basic old truths and concepts are not worth dwelling on in posts. It is not a matter of always rolling out new ideas in every sphere, but it can be a matter of presenting old and time tested ideas in an original manner, unlike what has been presented so far. Here Enge gave an example of Suzie Orman, an author who dwells on the basic concepts of financial planning, but she does that in an original and clearly comprehensible manner.

The Road to Success in the Field of Content Marketing

Although content marketing was not the centerpiece of Enge’s interview with Matt Cutts, much of their discussion revolved around the road to success in that area. So Enge stressed that all the ideas they thrashed out are highly pertinent to the question and lie in the basis of successful content marketing strategies. Then he shared some of his own ideas on paving the road to success in that respect. As he said, in a well drawn up content marketing plan, numerous communication channels should be involved, including the indispensable social media, content published on the own sites of brands, interviews, guest posting done on highly authoritative sites, etc. That does not mean that all the channels should be harnessed simultaneously as the only way to succeed, but whatever channels are selected in conformity with the situation, they should work in unison and support, and that should be clearly visible. E.g. business matters and social channels can be blended in seamlessly efficient combinations.

“There are a number of elements, but let’s talk about the concept that a good content marketing plan is using multiple channels for communication like social media channels, content on a brand’s own site, guest posting on other authoritative sites, giving and getting interviews, and so on.”
“If you’re just starting out, it can be daunting to think you have to do all these things, but you don’t have to start with them all. You can start with just one or two areas – maybe it’s your own site’s content and one social media network. Just keep in mind that what you’re doing now is all part of the bigger picture as you grow; putting quality stuff out there and building a reputation.”