The Ultimate SEO Effectiveness Formula

I was thinking today about what makes a specific SEO tactic effective or not, and had an epiphany. I've discussed my opinions on marketing VS content before, but this time I came up with a very different angle.

You see, what really drives traffic to sites is not any one tactic, but rather a combination of factors that work together as an attractant. What are the combination of factors? Well, if you boil them down to their essence, all the details disappear and you are left with one basic universal concept:

The Effectiveness of an SEO tactic is based on a combination of Marketing and Content.

You need to have content people want, and those people must know about it and/or be able to find it easily.

Marketing gets the word out. It doesn't matter how great your content is if no one knows it exists. Exactly how you market can vary (and must vary based on your audience and the medium you are using), but you must market to be successful. Linking campaigns, social media promotion, paid advertising and linkbaiting tactics are all marketing. Even sending out print flyers can be an effective SEO tactic for local companies. The point is that you need marketing or your site (and business) will be at a standstill.

Content is also critical. Without a reason to visit (and return, and link) then marketing will only get you so far. You can become the internet equivalent of a one-hit wonder with marketing alone, but in order to be truly successful, your content must pick up and deliver on the implied promises your marketing makes. This makes content more important than marketing, but also reliant on it.

Additionally, your content helps your marketing, once a certain level of awareness is achieved. At a certain point, your direct marketing efforts stop driving the majority of traffic, and indirect and residual marketing - word of mouth, blogging, reviews, etc take over and propel your site to heights that are unattainable by your own efforts alone. Content is what creates this virtual (unpaid) army of marketers working for you. Content markets.

Therefore, content is extremely important, because it not only affects traffic by itself by virtue of it's own merits, but it also multiplies the efforts of your marketing.

Further, the more content you have, and the better it is, the more pronounced the effect will be. Rating content on a scale of 1 to 10, content rated a 1 would be far less effective than content rated a 5, for example. The content rated a 5 would be far more than 5 times effective, it would be several orders of magnitude more effective, since content tends to support other content as far as both real and perceived value is concerned.

A single paragraph is less impressive and useful than several paragraphs of content, assuming the quality is the same. The knowledge and background of the first paragraph influences and enhances the value of the following paragraphs, and the following paragraphs support the earlier ones.

Content quality is not just a linear progression - it's exponential.

For the purposes of this article, I'll square it. The actual exponential value might be more or less, but I think squaring is pretty close based on my own experiences.

So, where are we now?

Well, Marketing increases the Effectiveness of SEO, but only to a limited amount. The more and better the Content you have, the exponentially more it affects your Effectiveness.

Further, Marketing creates an initial impression of quality of content - a link to a topic with anchor text implies that the content linked to is relevant to the anchor text, and that the person who linked to it is recommending it. In the case of 2 equal pieces of content (such as 2 identical articles hosted on 2 different sites) the one that is better marketed will generally have the most traffic.

In this case, the Marketing affects the perception of the Content. Given a choice to read the same article from the Wall Street Journal and on a blog you've never heard of, you'll probably read the one printed by the WSJ. This is an example of Marketing affecting the perception of the quality of the Content.

However, that is just the beginning. A bad article in the WSJ is still a bad article. Content trumps. One of the reasons the WSJ is so well regarded is that it tends to have lots of great Content. This is Content affecting Marketing, since being regarded as having great Content is why people trust the WSJ more than some blog they've never heard of. It's name and reputation for quality Content are part of it's Marketing.

So Marketing affects Content, and Content affects Marketing, but of the two, Content has an exponentially stronger influence on the total Effectiveness of the relationship.

Therefore, in order to determine the Effectiveness of a particular SEO tactic or campaign, you can turn this all into a simple, easy to understand formula:

Effectiveness equals Marketing times the Content squared.



Remember this simple formula, and it will help guide you through your next SEO campaign. Simply judge the effectiveness of what you are doing by how you are marketing it, and what content you are using, keeping in mind the relationship between the two.


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