The world of digital marketing is constantly changing and both digital marketing experts are having to adapt to new approaches and challenges. As Google’s algorithm has become more sophisticated, much focus has shifted towards content marketing practices due to the fact that standard SEO approaches are failing to produce the same results they once did.

Over the past years, SEO experts have had pretty much a single approach: hacking the system. SEO has largely revolved around attempts to outsmart Google’s algorithms. As these algorithms have become more complex, so too have the methods for fulfilling the countless criteria that determine a website’s ranking. Despite the experts’ ability to keep up with the many search engines‘ developments over the years, things have recently begun to change.

Google has always had the same goal: ranking websites according to their quality and relevance for specific keywords. For years, the algorithms were not complex enough to guarantee that the best sites rank the highest. This allowed SEO experts to ‘hack the system’ and make most websites rank far above their real ‘value’. This was done by rigorously checking off the Google SEO checklist. Recently however, Google and other search engines have significantly strengthened their algorithms to such an extent that it is near impossible to make a sub-par website rank highly. It is no longer enough to simply perform a variety of SEO steps on your website’s content and ‘tick off the main boxes. Instead, quality content has emerged as one of the most important factors. If you truly want to fulfill all of the requirements set by search engines, you need to produce content that people care about and are willing to engage with.

Developments in search engine algorithms are not the only reason why content has taken the spotlight. Another big factor behind the emergence of content marketing is the rise of social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become absolute staples in digital marketing as they offer websites the opportunity to promote their content directly to an unlimited pool of potential clients or users. Social media have emerged, as a modern version of ‘word of mouth’ promotion through likes, shares, re-tweets and follows. The rise of social media networks has placed more importance on the quality of websites’ content as social media users only engage with content that they are interested in. Nobody on Facebook wants to read an article that offers nothing to the reader. Not only does the nature of social media require quality content, but the increasingly important role that social signals play in SEO means that quality content has become a vital factor on all fronts.

What are the implications of these changes for digital marketing and SEO? The main development will be a big change in the practices and role of digital marketing. The new focus on content creation will change the role of digital marketers from marketers to consultants and those who want to be successful in SEO will have to learn to write for human beings, and not just for search engines.

Of course this does not mean that SEO is dead. On page SEO is still important, as is off page SEO. The many factors that have always played a role in website rankings continue to exist and have an important impact. The difference is, that SEO alone cannot guarantee website visitors like it used to. If you are writing a blog article, it is no longer sufficient to create a blog post that is well structured and keyword-dense; it will also have to be interesting.

So whom should you write for; search engines or human beings? The answer, quite simply, is both. Google’s factors are not going to disappear any time soon and there are still many ways to improve the ranking of your website beyond just content. Backlinking, keyword research and other on and off page SEO factors are still vital to achieving a good ranking and attracting people to your site. However, the rise of social media and the ever-changing nature of SEO are placing quality content at the core of good digital marketing. Providing great content that is follows good SEO practices is the best way to guarantee that your website attracts many visitors through different sources.

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