Search Engine Optimization, aka SEO,  is not a hard or difficult process, but in order to see results from a well-crafted strategy, you have to be patient because only slow and steady people win the SEO race!

Today’s digital marketers face a difficult decision when it comes to conducting an  SEO strategy. Should they stick to the classic keyword-marketing techniques or they should invest in link building more “risky” techniques? Which choice will bring more organic search traffic on the website?

There are so many different opinions on the web, that probably you are about to get nuts instead of finding a decent answer. So, in this blog post we will explore the reasons you might choose one path over the other.

Link Building

But first things first. Social may be sexy, but search and organic traffic still pay the bills. So, building a website without SEO, is like building a road without directions!

It plays a crucial role in online business website since search engine serve millions of users every day looking for answers to their questions or even solutions to their problems.

Here are the 3 most important reasons to conduct an SEO strategy:

  1. Exposure and Brand Awareness
  2. Optimal user experience
  3. Building authority and trust in your industry

Before we start to explore the magic SEO land, let me clear some things up:

  • I may be calling  “magic”, the SEO world, but there is no magic or secret sauce or whatever you might have in mind to accomplish a successful SEO strategy.
  • Google only loves your site when everyone else loves it first.

So in link building land, we target very specific, relevant keywords and we go after them. Those keywords came from different sources: by our boss, our team, or maybe our client if we’re in the consulting business. Next step is to go out there and find potential link opportunities. Of course, we will run the keyword difficulty tool and look at how people who are ranking for that keywords have done in terms of link metrics.

Links fall into 3 categories:

 

  • Manual Links:
    After analyzing keywords and finding which phrase has the highest search volume, you have to find relevant blogs or websites to your business and keywords. Then you reach out to those authorities in order to get them to link back to your website.
  • Organic Links:
    These links are the reward for consistent production of amazing content. They are links that are gained without any action. The paradox here is that in order to get more organic links, you have to rank high; in order to rank high, you need more links.
  • Paid links:
    This type of links is considered as ‘black hat’ from Google, as the search engine wants to make sure that top ranking organic results are there because their authority was based on quality and not their budget.

 

The challenge here is to find very cheap but high authority links, that they don’t come from “spam sources”.  Remember that having links shows more authority for your brand. Makes you look like an expert in your niche. So, it takes a lot of work to build this kind of authority and enhance your brand’s reputation and make sure others will desire to visit and learn more about it.  However, the upcoming results will surprise you!

Cons:

  • Time-consuming: Prospecting and outreaching can easily turn into a full job, and without investing the right amount of time, the results will range from limited to zero.
  • Results are not guaranteed: Even if you put the time and effort, it’s normal to hear a lot of ‘No’ upon your requests. You have to be very cautious about the people you’re prospecting.

Pros:

 

  • Time-saving: If done in the right way, link building will potentially save you a lot of time from constantly creating new content.
  • Rankings: This is what this fight is all about right? More links, equal to higher rankings and higher domain authority.

 

Content Marketing

On the flip side is the content marketing world! Oh, and this is a completely different approach. The main questions in here are the following:

  • Who is the audience that I want to reach?
  • What channels do they use to share things or discover new content or just to be influenced?
  • Are we trying to fulfill their needs or just trying to sell?

There are tons of content ideas, who can apply and answer all of these questions! But in fact there is only one concept behind all of these ideas: Tell a story. Make it true. Make it compelling. And make it relevant to your brand.

A content marketing strategy is not about increasing your traffic or higher rankings; it’s about growing your community. The stories you tell exist for people to realize what you represent.

Cons:

  • Time-consuming: It’s exactly the same as in link building. If you can’t allocate the resources and be consistent, the results will be disappointing.

 

  • Skills: Being consistent is better than being perfect, but you need the proper skills. A poorly written article or a bad graphic is not meant to bring results.

 

Pros:

 

  • Branding: Products can be copied and replaced but brands are unique. This is the strongest point of content marketing. Most of the times people hear you not because of what you have to say, but because of the way you say it.
  • Organic links: The more exposure you get, the more websites will start linking back to you. The only way to grab the exposure you deserve is to build and execute a solid content marketing strategy.

 

So, what to do?

“So what path am I supposed to choose?” Well, that’s a discussion that goes around all the time in the SEO world, and in fact, it’s the fairest discussion to have. You’ll hear all sorts of reasons why one or another path doesn’t work.

At the end of the day, there is only one questions you need to answer before any SEO planning or executing:

Which are your goals and what are the metrics? Are you trying to get lots of people to be aware of our brand/product, or are you just trying to do some positioning?

Finally, if the war is like “we don’t have the skillset, we haven’t quite figured out this stuff yet. We don’t have the people, the staff, the resources, the time, the energy, the buy-in from management to do these things”, then I understand if you’re going after link building.

It’s easier and definitely cheaper than content creation. Plus, you can be really creative as to get the wanted results.

There might be times when you decide to go with a content marketing strategy, along with SEO techniques and you do this cycle of content creation again and again. Because this should be the focus of your efforts if you see that this is what brings more traffic.

But keep in mind that we don’t have to pick always one or the other path. Most things in life are not binary.

You can always combine them in the most effective way. So, this choice is certainly up to you. I’m sure there will be a great discussion in the comments, and I look forward to that. Thanks for joining me. Take care!

Anna is an SEO specialist and student at Athens University of Economics and Business. Her enthusiasm for new experiences has led her to various educational programs and projects.