Yes good content should generate links back to your website and improve SEO perfomance. The challenge is in helping people differentiate between content marketing strategy and SEO link building tactics, and their respective control.
Content marketing starts with a broader marketing objective, using distributed content to help achieve goals, and in some cases linking back to the website is not even part of the implementation. Our focus is on the marketing, with branding, customer development and relationship nurturing as integral components of the campaigns. Content, well controlled and distributed, is king, this is a strategy.
For SEO link building, there is very little, if any direct control of the general content. Yes, you can have some influence with provided content, but the final call is the publisher’s (the more control to exert, the closer you push link building toward content marketing.) This can lead to some odd pairing of relevant content for SEO that does not necessarily play into the brand’s narrative. And this is where folks can get uncomfortable.
Here are some elements of SEO link building that marketers should become comfortable with:
First, the final call is the publishers. You can negotiate to a certain point, but publishers have their own brand and narrative to follow. If they give into the whims of every link partner, the site will lose continuity and eventually lose audience.
Second, a variety of content and sites is a good thing. While all must be relevant to your respective pages, the internet is a tapestry of interests and points of view. Tying into this helps strengthen your pages inbound linking. Remember that this in someone else’s voice connecting to your brand, it is not your brand.
Third, some sites look cheap, but this should not preclude them from consideration. As long as the site is not being dinged by Google and the content is relevant, don’t sweat the aesthetics.
Keeping a focus on link building’s purpose, to show Google that other sites “like” you, understand that this is a popularity contest. While having some high profile, great looking sites should be part of your program, the vast majority of votes will come from sites that are average or below. They still count.