How social sharing pushed content marketing past SEO in driving site traffic, or, "Do you like us? Really, really like us?"

Here's a quote from an excellent Mashable article on content marketing versus SEO:

Five years ago, it seemed nothing was as buzzy and mysterious as SEO. Today, “content marketing” has taken over as reigning buzzphrase in marketing circles, with many SEO practitioners shifting their sales pitches to match the trend.

The difference, essentially, is content marketing aims to create content humans want to read, whereas SEO aims to create content that pleases search engines.

Content marketing versus SEOWhat happened?

Why are we switching from creating keyword-based content that would attract search engine spiders to having to be authentic, tell interesting stories and create value for our readers?

Well, as a writer and a marketer, I'm grateful for the change, even though it was caused by that creepy Mark Zuckerberg. That's right, the shift in content consumption from purely search-driven to socially-shared was led by Facebook. But now Pinterest is a huge player in the game, stepping right up to other social-sharing modalities like Twitter, Yelp and LinkedIn.

What do you need to do to make sure your business website retains search value in this new environment?

Well, you need to tell the truth, be open, and both talk and listen. That sounds pretty touchy-feely! Are we optimizing my website for Google so customers can find me or having couples therapy? The answer is yes.

You're in a relationship with your customers, and there's a machine intelligence that communicates the internet part of that relationship.

Machine intelligence (Google's search algorithm), dovetailed with human intelligence gestalted by social, is now so sophisticated that it can basically tell if you're lying.

And it can tell if you're responding to what genuinely interests your customers, and it can tell you if they're genuinely interested in what you're selling. Search analytics, Facebook metrics, and social engagement management tools can all tell you exactly how your customers feel about your content and your message.

Although creating content marketing tools such as articles or video is a challenge for business owners, this is a beautiful time for companies, marketers and customers.

The transition to marketing that's driven by content that human beings want to share is an opportunity to be yourself as a businessperson, to talk about what matters to you and let customers who share your values find you.

It's an opportunity for transparency and authenticity, and a lot of crap that was rising to the top is getting filtered back now in favor of genuinely committed businesses.

Plus, marketers like me get to create Pinterest boards full of the geeky stuff we really like, and you can visit us there if, like us, you enjoy Star Wars jokes and tech support cartoons!