To answer Jonathan Piggins’ question in The Guardian, “Is Google’s love affair with content marketing usurping SEO?”, the answer is no. Here’s my rebuttal:
“Google’s love affair with content marketing”
“Google’s preference for content marketing”
That’s like saying “firefighters have a preference for extinguishing fires” – that’s just what they do by definition. The web consists of content, Google searches the web, ergo Google has a preference for content. Nothing new. It’s just that paid links don’t help as much anymore which previously could get a site to rank without having quality content. Paid links though is just one tactic of SEO that has withered (good riddance). The whole of SEO is still alive and well.
“whether the objectivity of algorithms can account for the subjectivity of quality”
Of course not, that’s why SEO will always be around as long as search engines are around. See my post Will SEO End Someday?
“It looks like Google has tired of its old friend SEO and is instead cosying-up to the new kid on the block, content marketing.”
These aren’t mutually exclusive. Good content marketing consists of good SEO. He does admit to this later when he says: “This means that brands need to underpin their content with SEO strategies like strong internal navigation.”
“So we are now in a position where content from brands could usurp smaller, niche content from bloggers? Type ‘small business funding’ into Google…”
Anyone can “usurp smaller, niche content from bloggers” with quality content and good content marketing (which, again, entails SEO), not just brands simply by virtue of being a brand. If a big brand like Barclay’s puts out content on this topic, they’ll rank because of all the other signals that say barclays.com is a powerful domain, like links and a well-optimized site that the content sits on. Not just because they have quality content.
All in all, Piggins got a backlink to his digital agency at the footer of the article, The Guardian got Piggins to write for free, and Brand Union Digit, the sponsor of this section of the site, got its name beside content relevant to a service they sell. Piggins answers his own question: “The relationship between content marketing and SEO only reaches its true potential when it’s designed to be symbiotic.”