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Which is the Better Investment?

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Which is the Better Investment?


I found an interesting discussion/argument on Twitter that was sparked when someone mentioned that “Marketing is dead.” Plus there is no shortage of people proclaiming online (every year, it seems) that “SEO is dead.”

I know that content marketing isn’t exactly traditional marketing, but it is marketing nonetheless. I’m not here to argue whether they are dead or not (they aren’t, the fact that you look up stuff on Google is enough proof of that), but if people insist on content marketing vs SEO, then we should look at what they actually are for and if they’re worth the investment.

  1. What is content marketing?
  2. What is SEO?
  3. What if I focus on content marketing vs SEO or vice-versa?
  4. My advice: Do them together
  5. Key takeaway

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the practice of creating and sharing useful and relevant content in the form of articles, podcasts, videos, and such to attract, acquire, and retain your target audience and build a long-term relationship with them.

For example, here at SEO Hacker I run a blog about SEO, digital marketing, and Google updates that I then share to my audience because this is my expertise and I want people interested in these topics—whether beginners or not—to have access to good, well-written, and well-researched information.

SEO Hacker blog screenshot

Aside from that, we have free case studies that you can download in case you need hard data.

Content marketing vs SEO 5 free case studies

 

I also have a podcast called The Leadership Stack where I interview entrepreneurs all over the world and discuss business, finance, and leadership. We also answer listener questions on our AMA Thursdays.

Leadership Stack homepage screenshot

All this content, for free.

As you can see, my priority is creating good content and building a relationship with my audience. When they go on my websites, they have a pain point that they need addressed, so I want to make sure that they get the solution from me and even share it with their friends and colleagues.

By doing content marketing, I also set myself as an industry leader—a professional who is knowledgeable in their field. If you’re a potential customer, you would not want to hire someone who has no proof that they know what they’re doing.

What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing a website for maximum visibility on search engines to increase organic traffic. By maximum visibility, what I mean is that we work hard to put your website on the first page of the SERPs (search engine results page).

For example, with SEO Hacker we make sure to rank #1 on the SERPs for the keyword “SEO Philippines.” As I mentioned in my previous blog post, if my company can’t even rank for our own keywords, why would you hire us? I make sure that I practice what I preach, which is holistic, white hat SEO that gets me and my clients’ websites on the first page for maximum visibility.

SEO Philippines SERPs

Why the first page? Because nobody ever really looks at the second page of the SERPs.

Although I mentioned that we optimize for search engines, that does not mean we leave people behind. One mistake that some make is to focus exclusively on search engines. You have to remember that it is people who submit their queries, not Google. So a crucial aspect of SEO is empathizing with customers to optimize for their search intent, ease of use, and so on.

What if I focus on content marketing vs SEO or vice-versa?

Let’s say you wrote this helpful piece on the difference between social media monitoring and listening.

Then you just… let it sit there.

Yes, you’re supposed to write content that is relevant and useful and will generally promote itself through the likes and shares of your readers. However, no matter how good your content is, if it’s not searchable, it’s not optimized both for people and search engines, you don’t reach out to webmasters to build relationships and promote your content, then your efforts in writing awesome content will be wasted.

On the other hand, your optimization will be very limited without informative, well-written content. You can’t just have keywords floating around your webpages and expect to rank. SEO works well because you’re providing answers to searcher’s questions. If you don’t have the content, then why would anyone go to your website for answers?

My advice: Do them together

Instead of pitting content marketing vs SEO, I suggest doing content marketing and SEO.

As someone who is selling a product or service, you have knowledge in that field. You have information and a perspective that not everyone else has, and you can make shareable content off of that.

Then of course, let that content work with SEO to help you become searchable online and visible to your target market. As I mentioned earlier, establish yourself as an industry leader that people come to for answers.

Remember that people who go on Google or other search engines don’t really go there to just pass the time, unlike those who go on social media. These people have a goal in mind, which is to look for information, to purchase a product or service, and so on.

For example, let’s say a CEO is looking to invest in SEO for their company. They know that prices can be a little steep, so they want to know how to maximize their SEO ROI.

How to maximize SEO ROI SERPs

Because I wrote an article on that, they can easily find my company when they Google, “How to maximize SEO ROI.” Even if it’s not the first result, I have nine strategies that I’m giving away for free and it’s bound to catch their eye.

Key Takeaway

The question isn’t content marketing vs SEO, because you should be investing your time, energy, and resources on both. The question is, are you willing to put in the work and create good, informative content and use SEO to make them visible to your target audience?

Or, you know—you can hire me to do that for you.



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SEO

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

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Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Google defines “breadcrumbs” as navigation that indicates the page’s position in the site hierarchy.

When you hear the term “breadcrumbs,” Hansel and Gretel might come to mind. In the old fairy tale, the main characters leave behind a trail of breadcrumbs to avoid getting lost in the forest.

Similarly, breadcrumbs are helpful for users as they drill down into your site hierarchy.

A website can display a “breadcrumb” trail of internal site navigation so that a user can easily find their way back through the website’s structure.

Screenshot from NASA.gov, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

So, we know that breadcrumbs are helpful for users and that Google always tells us to focus on the user experience. Does that mean breadcrumbs are a ranking factor?

[Deep Dive:] The Complete Guide To Google Ranking Factors

The Claim: Breadcrumbs As A Ranking Factor

In 2009 Google announced that search results would begin displaying site hierarchies.

This was an effort to show users the location (thus providing context) of a page on the website.

Below is an example of what Google search results looked like in 2009 before and after this monumental change.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from search, Google, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Given that Google is tight-lipped on what exactly ranking factors are (for a good reason), the search community relies on what is accessible to better understand how search works.

This includes a medley of what we can see in the search engine result pages, patents, official documentation, and what Google representatives say.

Google changed how search results were displayed and wrote, “By analyzing site breadcrumbs, we’ve been able to improve the search snippet for a small percentage of search results, and we hope to expand in the future.”

Search marketers listened and asked the question: Are breadcrumbs a ranking factor?

The Evidence: Breadcrumbs As A Ranking Factor

Search engines try to make sense of your website by analyzing how the text is organized into main topics and subtopics.

Breadcrumbs reinforce the hierarchical arrangement of pages on a website and how those pages are related.

Google developer docs explain that using breadcrumb markup in a webpage’s body helps categorize the information from the page in search results.

Because a webpage ranks for more than just one keyword, users often will arrive at a page from multiple different types of search queries.

Each of these unique search queries returns the same webpage. But, thanks to breadcrumb markup, the content can be categorized within the search query context.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Google Search Central, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

In January 2009, Google filed a U.S. Patent Application titled Visualizing Site Structure and Enabling Site Navigation for a Search Result or Linked Page.

The patent may suggest that Google could include breadcrumbs in search results even if a website doesn’t use them.

However, the patent also explains how this could make it easier for Google to understand a website’s structure and include that information in search results.

The patent has since been listed as “abandoned.” Could that be a clue that Google has abandoned using breadcrumbs in this fashion?

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction

Breadcrumbs Pass Pagerank

In reply to a question on Twitter about breadcrumbs, Gary Illyes, Google webmaster trend analyst, said, “We like them. We treat them as normal links in, e.g., PageRank computation.”

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Twitter, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

PageRank (PR) is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to rank webpages in their search engine results.

While it doesn’t have as much impact as it used to, Google still uses PageRank, among many other factors, to rank results.

Google Search Console Warning

There is a Warning in GSC featured guides under breadcrumbs for manual actions against websites that misuse structured data guidelines.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Google Search Central, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Most manual actions address attempts to manipulate Google’s search index.

If breadcrumb markup were not part of Google’s search index, it would not likely be at risk of manual actions for spammers abusing it.

Not only is Google serious about not wanting people to manipulate breadcrumbs, but they are also invested in website owners implementing breadcrumbs properly.

Check out Google Search Console’s tweet below, from September 2019.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Twitter, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

GSC updated its interface to show users where there were errors in search enhancements, including breadcrumbs.

That same weekend GSC started emailing accounts with breadcrumb structured data errors on their sites – and they’re still doing this three years later.

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?Screenshot from Google Search Central, June 2022Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

If breadcrumbs were not important to Google, why would they spend time and resources to educate website owners on proper implementation and send notices when there were errors?

[Discover:] More Google Ranking Factor Insights

Our Verdict: Breadcrumbs Are Kind Of A Ranking Factor

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

Are Breadcrumbs A Google Ranking Factor?

 

Breadcrumbs are inadvertently a ranking factor.

A ranking factor is a set of criteria that search engines use to evaluate web pages and put them in the order you see in search results.

Does Google use breadcrumbs to evaluate web pages?

Yes, Google documentation supports the theory that breadcrumbs are used to evaluate webpages.

And a representative confirmed that breadcrumbs are considered normal links in Google’s link analysis algorithm, PageRank.

The weight given to those links is unknown.

Does that mean that adding breadcrumb markup will propel your page to the top of search results or that you’re doomed to never reach page one by not having them?

Of course not; the Google algorithm is far too complex for that.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]Ranking Factors: Fact Or Fiction? Let’s Bust Some Myths! [Ebook]

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