There is a bit of confusion in the SEO industry right now. It seems that many people are confusing content marketing with link building or portraying content marketing as “the new link building”. However, this belief is misguided, as link building and content marketing are fundamentally different.
Content marketing is NOT link building.
I’m not saying content marketing can’t be effective, I’m simply saying content marketing isn’t link building. Link building and content marketing are two profoundly different strategies and each has their respective strengths and weaknesses.
First off, I want to reiterate content marketing can be an incredibly useful marketing strategy. However, content marketing is not interchangeable with link building; pure content marketing has nothing to do with links.
One of the major strengths of content marketing is the ability to actively engage your audience. Providing useful content to your audience gives you the capability to interact with them through that content. The ability to engage in meaningful conversations with your target audience can be very powerful.
Content marketing can also be ideal for building trust and authority for your brand. Providing valuable content to your audience for free fosters a relationship of trust. As you provide more content, your target audience will begin to view your brand as a source of useful information. Consistently delivering quality content will also help position your brand as an authority within your niche.
One of the glaring weaknesses of content marketing is that there is no guarantee your content will be visible. This can be very problematic, because without proper visibility, content marketing can’t achieve its intended purposes.
Also, content marketing can be very difficult to successfully implement. Effective content marketing takes a tremendous amount of time and resources – writers, video production, graphic design, developers, etc. Content marketing simply may not be feasible within every business’ budget/resources.
Link building can also be an exceptionally useful marketing strategy, but in different ways than content marketing.
The primary benefit of link building is search visibility. Links are at the core of Google’s search algorithm and they have direct impact on search ranking. Building relevant links on sites that make sense remains the most effective way to boost rankings within search results.
Driving targeted traffic is another link building strength. Not only will link building improve rankings (which will increase traffic in its own right), but it also will help bring people to your site. By building links on relevant sites your target audience visits, you can drive highly targeted traffic that has a better chance of leading to conversions.
Link building can also be effective in building authority and increasing brand awareness. As you build links your site/content will begin to rank higher for various queries related to your niche. The more your target audience comes across your site/content while searching, the more they will begin to recognize your brand and view it as an authority.
Much like content marketing, link building is also difficult and takes time and resources. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to build links.
Opposite to content marketing, inspiring engagement isn’t a strong suit of link building. While links can improve search visibility and traffic, they do not leave a lot of room for engaging with your target audience.
Another obstacle when it comes to link building is the fact the SEO landscape is always shifting and changing. Adaptability is essential in link building as you must always ensure you are implementing best practices into your campaigns and building useful links to avoid running afoul of Google.
Link building and content marketing are two fundamentally different strategies. Both practices have strengths and weaknesses:
- Engagement with your target audience
- Builds trust and authority
- No guarantee content will be visible
- Requires tremendous amount of time and resources
- Boost rankings and increase visibility within search
- Driving targeted traffic to your site
- Building authority and cultivating brand awareness
- Difficult, takes hard work to be successful
- Not much room for engagement
- Ever changing industry landscape
The two tactics are not exchangeable and each aims to fulfill different goals. Link building and content marketing provide value in unique ways and ideally you should try to implement both into your overall online marketing strategy.