Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by John Schulenburg, Director of SEO for Red Bricks Media.

Remember the old line “content is king”? For a long time in the SEO community we thought it was that easy.  Create good content and they (traffic, social, rankings) will come.  But is that still true with the rise of social, local and personalized search?  What about the recent Google Panda update?  Content “farming” as it’s called, was hit pretty hard by the Panda update and now companies are having to refocus their entire view of content creation as a viable SEO strategy.  There’s a big case for internet marketers to take their focus away from content since there are signs that content isn’t exactly “king” anymore.

The way content is delivered on the web is not dying, it’s simply changing. 

Online marketers need to think differently when it comes to creating content online.  We have to become digital story tellers.  I cringe when I see brands use their costly SEO efforts to create egocentric content that may appeal to the brand or product in question, but miss the mark entirely when it comes to storytelling.  While these methods may carry the right intentions, they only reinforce what’s wrong with the way brands push content to their audiences.  They need to rethink the engagement process beyond how many likes, shares or tweets are gained, beyond how much traffic is driven or how high they rank.  While each of these metrics are important to the process of measurability, too many times I see brands driving their content strategy through these prisms.

View content creation through a different prism.

Look at your target market and think, “What peaks their interest?”  Here’s something that may surprise you.  It almost always has nothing to do with your specific product.  Your target market has its own makeup.  Think about how you can appeal to them directly without saying a word about yourself.  Something that makes your audience go, “Hey I remember those guys”.  I’m not saying going as far as promoting other products or services.  I’m saying to think fundamentally about what peaks their interest, and don’t be afraid to step out of the box to create a meaningful customer experience that is both relevant and memorable.

Understanding the needs of your customers is more important than ever. 

Relevant content creation is not an SEO tactic; it’s a conduit to creating a memorable connection between a brand and its customer.  It’s an absolute necessity for any brand trying to be relevant online.  Bottom line, if content is ever going to be “king” again, it will happen when the content creating “tactics” have given way to the understanding that the only way to drive real customer engagement is to let go of what you’d like your customer to do for you and embrace what you can do for your customer.

As SEO Director at RBM, John and his team plan, execute, and maintain search engine optimization projects for our clients. John works closely with our social and paid media experts to create Holistic Search campaigns that integrate multiple high-return marketing channels. John gained extensive experience in SEO, SEM, social media, and web development in his previous positions as Director of SEO & Social Media at Lifescript, Director of SEO at Newegg, and Senior SEO & Content Manager at Pricegrabber. He studied computer information systems at Arizona State University.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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