Small Business SEO Tips with John Doherty from Distilled

Content Marketing Explained

Content marketing is one of the most popular marketing topics of 2013 and rightfully so; it’s considered the “bread and butter” of your business Without-This-Your-Content-Marketing-Strategy-May-Fail and how businesses can competitively gain exposure. Some however would argue that a quick result, like implementing PPC ads tomorrow morning, is all that is required to drive online traffic. While these are great short-term measures, in order to maintain authority, develop an audience and gain benefits in the long-term, it’s important to think about your own content marketing strategies and why it matters for your business.

If you are a small business owner and are serious about your SEO in 2013 and beyond, you need to think about generating and promoting relevant quality content that aligns with your buyer personas. There is no way around it. One of the commons SEO myths for small business owners are that they can move their way to the top of search engine results pages primarily by building links (often in a shady way) and including keywords on their site. While those small business SEO tips were relevant couple years ago, Google’s search algorithm has evolved to reward content and social media sharing over excessive, unnatural link building or keyword mentions. If you are a small business, you need to think of content marketing as the foundation of your SEO strategy!

Small Business SEO Tips

We sat down for our SEO Insider Tips video interview series with John Doherty, Head of NYC/Senior Consultant at Distilled who shared top small business SEO tips and content marketing basics for anyone who has or runs a website or a blog. John Doherty (@dohertyjf) is responsible for SEO, influencer outreach, paid search and content strategy. He was first exposed to Internet marketing while living in a hippie village in Switzerland. In his spare time, he is an avid photographer, traveler and blogger. John frequently speaks at major industry conferences on the topics of SEO and content marketing.

In the video below, John Doherty discusses:

  • What are the top SEO considerations for small businesses
  • What is content marketing & content strategy
  • How to run content marketing at a budget
  • Link building tips for SMBs

Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy

The terms “contenting marketing” and” content strategy” are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two. They are defined by “what” types of content your business will produce versus the “how” or the strategy that you are going to implement in order to develop this area. According to John Doherty the most important variable lies in “who is going manage” this area.

Google produced a free e-book called The Zero Moment of Truth where they indicate that putting someone in charge (the sergeant of search per se) is one of the most important things you can do to start building your content strategy. Otherwise, the responsibility is scattered and we know what happens when nobody is in charge….

  • Content Marketing is the “what” of your business and “who” is actually doing the actual work
  • Content Strategy is the “how” of your business and how you plan to achieve your goals

For more on the topic of marketing through content, check out Content Marketing Tips & SEO Strategies with #iAcq Team at NYU we recently posted on our blog.

In terms of having a game plan for content marketing, it is important to have one and stick to your guns – make it a rule. John mentions the 70:20:10 rule which has different meanings depending on the type of environment that you are in. For example, it has been used in education and in managing innovation within a corporate environment.  John’s explanation of this rule is dedicated to how you allocate your content resources, where 70% is your frequent content updates, 20% is your larger visualizations and presentations and 10% is the “outrageous” and riskier content.

In his influential blog post, A Blog is Not a Content Strategy, John Doherty went into a great detail in explaining the strategic considerations behind building a content marketing plan for businesses. Below we included a deck that summarizes this topic.

Content Marketing on a Budget

One of the reasons small business owners do not invest in content marketing is because they think they cannot afford it. Investing in great content marketing doesn’t have to break the bank, especially if you are a small business, but it does require you to evaluate how much time needs to be dedicated to ensuring your content is developed, optimized and promoted effectively.

John wrote an excellent blog on How to Produce Great Content with No Budget. His view is that there are three types of equity that you can spend to produce anything. Businesses need at least one of these and will need to put at least two of these together to create any value. The main point is that no matter what situation you are in, you will be expending some type of equity on everything you produce and not everything requires money. The diagram below explains this concept and how you want to devote your business resources most efficiently to generate great content that will give you the ROI.

Creating Content with No Budget - John Doherty - Search Decoder

Benefits of Link Building

Links are the ‘Legos’ between the pages on your website – search engines discover how each of the pages are connected to each other via the web. Link building is the equivalent to “making friends.” It is important to connect with your target audience and ideal customer who will help you build better links long-term.

  1. Helps build brand equity and long-term value
  2. Increases your social following who can help promote for you
  3. Allows you to tap into long-tail keyword ranking which costs less and adds value

Top 4 SEO Tips for Small Businesses

  1. Blog – Small businesses should have a blog in order to have a channel for producing thought-leadership, to create an audience and interact with people. Two to three times a week is a good average.
  2. Local Social Engagement – Engage with people in your area if you are a local business – on review sites such as Yelp. David Mihm, a renowned local SEO expert, described at Search Love last year the benefits of local engagement to drive traffic to your business.
  3. Website Organization – Maintain a well organized website and ensure pages are linked appropriately so that search engines can find the site.
  4. Graphic Designer – Hire a great graphic designer as people are more likely to “trust good looking websites”. Strong websites tend to attract more links and ultimately more business.

If you are an SEO newbie, we put together together some great free SEO training materials here.

Subscribe to out YouTube channel for more SEO Insider Video tips.

amy kelly nyuAmy Kelly (@missamk) is currently a graduate student specializing in Digital Marketing at NYU. Prior to joining the Integrated Marketing program, she was a Marketing Manager for WPP’s global outdoor and experiential media agency, Kinetic. She is passionate about people, media and technology and loves yoga and surfing. Learn more about here and here.

5 replies
  1. Matthew Capala
    Matthew Capala says:

    Great interview. One way to look at content marketing vs content strategy is that content marketing is like baking a cake (i.e. a content campaign) and content strategy is like managing the bakery – you need to plan, manage people, promote, and deliver a varied inventory in many shapes and sizes that your customers like and will come back from. So your donuts and cakes are the videos, infopraghics, and blog posts 🙂 Thanks for posting

  2. Keisha Stephen-Gittens
    Keisha Stephen-Gittens says:

    A lot of valuable information in this post for sure. I especially like the “70:20:10 rule” as it gives a clear indication as to how your Content marketing resources or time should be allocated. 70% for frequent content updates, 20% for larger visualizations and presentations and 10% – “outrageous” and riskier content.

    I wonder though, how related to your business does this “outrageous” or risky content have to be and how do we measure the success of content produced as there may be no direct link to sales that shows an immediate return on investment?

  3. Amy Kelly
    Amy Kelly says:

    That’s a really great question. I think it depends on the type of industry you operate in and whether or not the “riskier” content makes sense with your brand strategy and the audience that you are speaking to. For example, if you are finance marketer, you may be less likely to engage in experiential or stunt tactics versus a fashion or entertainment brand. David Gianatasio (@DaveGian) wrote a great article about some liabilities with these but if aligned to your business goals and executed right, can have positive pay-offs in the long-run.
    In my own opinion, I think performing a what-if scenario and testing is a good start. In my past experience in the out of home/experiential media industry, the risky and outrageous tactics, when executed well, created a real unique point of difference for our clients.

  4. Ronny
    Ronny says:

    So do links from StumpleUpon and Reddit now count for search engine optimisation? I heard they do after the Penguin algorithm refresh
    Added a post on Facebook, hope you dont mind


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