SEO and native advertising were both treated as very distinct disciplines for a while, before savvy marketers began to notice areas of overlap and synergy. Today, they are both used to inform a brand’s larger content marketing strategy.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is blanket term for any tactic aimed at helping you improve your ranking in Google search engine results. Of course, since Googlers search 40,000 times each second, showing up in the top 10 results is valuable.
A large part of any good SEO strategy involves creating very robust and valuable written content. Often, if you can create better content about a specific topic than anyone else, Google will reward you with higher search rank. Historically, SEO was one of the only ways to get your content in front of the eyes of people searching the web.
However, now discovery platforms like Outbrain enable marketers to promote pieces of content to reach a massive audience, without waiting months or years for the benefits of SEO to kick in. Using Outbrain Amplify, marketers pay on a cost-per-click basis to serve their content — press, blogs or video — to anyone browsing the web. Instead of having your content appear in Google search results, your content appears as suggested content within other content that people are already reading.
Many websites and businesses see efficacy with both SEO and content promotion. While the two are separate strategies and may even be run by separate teams or individuals, there are certainly some synergies and overlaps in how they are executed. In fact, marketers have even found that SEO and native advertising complement one another nicely.
And when executing a paid native advertising strategy through a platform like Outbrain, it is important to test lots of different pieces of content. This allows you to A/B test which content works best with your given audience, giving you the greatest opportunity to find cost-effective customer acquisitions. For example, if you are selling your cookbook online and you’re trying Outbrain, it would be smart to try promoting a few different forms of content: a press piece, a product page, a blog post about the creation of your book and an interview, to see what performs best (See here for all potential types of content you can promote.)
If you are already executing a traditional SEO strategy, you are probably producing a lot of written content on your blog or website. This means you have plenty of fodder for native advertising, should you decide to experiment with paid content promotion.
Likewise, if you are doing native advertising and not focusing on SEO, it may be time to start. It is easy to turn some of your top-performing native pieces into blog posts or other long-form types of content that Google can crawl and rank. For instance, if you’re promoting a press piece about your cookbook – you might take the time to summarize and rewrite the press piece that is doing so well and add that content to your blog.
One SEO tip: if you’re using native advertising to promote existing video or podcast content, you can often pay to have the piece transcribed. Doing so gives you extra robust content that may help increase your search engine rank.
Using Native Advertising to Help Content Rank
One of the ways Google decides how high your website or blog post should rank in search results is by “quality signals.”The quality signals below are all a part of Google’s patented algorithm.
- Content readability
- Content quality
- Social media mentions
When Google’s Panda update went live in 2011, SEOs began to notice that content with lots of shares on social networks like Facebook and Twitter ranked more highly in Google’s search results than previously. It makes sense that Google would add social shares as part of its algorithm. Social shares are an obvious form of validation.
This position was backed up when Google announced that it struck a deal with Twitter to show Tweets in real time search. Google clearly has access to Twitter’s data pipeline.
One way to speed up the rate of your content’s social shares is by getting more eyes on it. One way to do this is by promoting the piece using a platform like Outbrain. If ranking highly on Google results is extremely valuable to your company or blog for certain search queries, promoting it for social shares alone could be ROI positive. A few companies have done this successfully.
Seed Your Content for Backlinks
One of the best ways to increase the rank of your website or blog is by getting backlinks from credible websites.
By using Outbrain’s whitelist feature, you’re able to choose certain websites to show your content on. Some websites are heavily trafficked by bloggers, or at least industry experts who may be more likely to be influencers. Of course, if you’re promoting your content on their website, it becomes more likely that the editors and influencers will see your product or service. This means they may organically write about it or at least be more open to an email request for coverage.
It is worth taking a look through Outbrain’s publisher list to see if there are any publishing partners, which you think may be frequented by influencers in your space.
Always be on the lookout for ways to combine efforts or synergies between acquisition channels. Your most valuable resource is your own time, so any time-saving measures or hacks to increase the efficacy of your tactics will pay big dividends.
Also, because digital marketing is such a rapidly-changing industry, new opportunities reveal themselves all the time. It would not have been possible to take advantage of the Outbrain x SEO synergy until Google’s algorithm changed several years ago. The moral: it pays to stay current.
The Twitter and Google Deal: What, Why and How to Use It, Ali Moghadam, Koozai
Google: Panda Update, Search Engine Land