Adam T. Sutton

SEO Tactics Chart: Creating content is the most-effective tactic — here’s how to get started

I’ve been thumbing through the just-published MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition. This thing is so hot-off-the-press that my fingers hurt.

There is a massive amount of analysis in this book, but one theme immediately jumped out at me: SEO thrives on content, and content does not come easily.

Below we have some great advice for jump-starting your content creation, but first let’s look at a chart ranking the top SEO tactics used today.

Most effective SEO tactics chart 1

As you can see, content creation sits comfortably on the top with 92% of SEO marketers saying it is at least somewhat effective and 50% saying it is very effective. Keyword research comes in second with 87% saying it’s at least somewhat effective.

The other side of the content-coin is that it is also one of the most difficult tactics to execute. Here (pulled from another chart in the report) are the three most-difficult SEO tactics:
1. External link building
2. Content creation
3. BloggingDNA 2

These three tactics are as intertwined as DNA. Nothing I know of will generate more high-quality links on a consistent basis than good content that is published regularly. And more than 50% of SEO marketers use blogs to create content, according to the report.

Blogging results in six months

Even though creating content is the most effective SEO tactic, it comes in sixth in terms of popularity with 60% of marketers using it. This disconnection could be due to the difficulty of creating content, and I recently heard a great example of how to simplify the process and get started.

Marcus Sheridan, Co-Owner at River Pools & Spas, had some great advice at our recent Optimization Summit on how to dive into content creation (Dive! Get it?). Sheridan outlined the simple tactics he used to blog his company’s website into the world’s most popular swimming pool site in terms of traffic.

Here are tactics he suggested for establishing a traffic-building blog:

Tactic #1. Answer prospects’ questions

First, gather everyone in your company and ask them to list the top questions they’ve received from prospective customers. Write down a list of 50. Those questions are the titles of your first 50 blog posts.

“As a pool guy, as soon as someone calls us on the phone, what do they ask? What do they ask in every industry? — How much does it cost? That’s the first question all the time,” Sheridan said.

So Sheridan’s first blog read: “How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?“.

Tactic #2. No, really answer their questions

Some companies are afraid to answer questions about price or to directly compare their products to alternatives (which is another popular question). Sheridan urged companies to overcome their discomfort. Prospective customers are asking these questions, regardless. Who would you rather have answering them?

“We can’t be afraid to talk about anything that the customer wants to talk about; the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.

Tactic #3. Two posts per week for six months

Once you gather questions from your team — keep everyone involved. Get them excited about writing a blog post to answer a question. Divide the work across the company and set a strict schedule.

“If you set 50 titles and you do two per week, then you have 25 weeks’ worth of blog content. Within that six months time, everything will start to change for that company and that business and the traffic they’re starting to get on their website,” Sheridan said.

Related resources

MarketingSherpa 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition

Optimization Summit: Tests with poor results can improve your marketing

Members Library – Optimization Summit 2011 Wrap-up: 6 takeaways to improve your tests and results

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Inbound Marketing, Search Marketing



  1. Justin Wise
    July 15th, 2011 at 20:12 | #1

    FANTASTIC summary, Adam. Content creation is THE answer for companies in the days ahead. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. July 18th, 2011 at 15:28 | #2

    Thank You for this insightful information.

  3. July 18th, 2011 at 16:05 | #3

    Every good SEO worth his/her salt acknowledges the value of good content. After all, visitors are at your site to get some sort of info — the basic premise for the “reason for being” of every website. Give them what they want, and they will come.

  4. July 19th, 2011 at 09:35 | #4

    Yes Indeed , spot on Adam!
    Easily found answers and fresh news or relevant timely advice are what bring people back. Once trust is built up in the content you have faithfull followers.

  5. July 20th, 2011 at 17:40 | #5

    Cheers Adam! Not being able to get my hands on the report, this post is some really great insight into effective SEO tactics. Thank you for sharing the info!

  6. Adam Sutton
    July 22nd, 2011 at 09:58 | #6

    @Ayden
    Thank you everyone for your comments! Ayden — you can download a free excerpt from the report here: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=31953

  7. July 28th, 2011 at 13:15 | #7

    Great tips for jump starting your blog. Repurposing content from trade shows, conferences, seminars, and online events can help you extend the reach of your content and facilitate blog writing and linking. Here’s a post I just wrote on the topic:
    http://blog.brighttalk.com/home/2011/7/26/repurposing-content-give-your-content-the-exposure-it-deserv.html

  8. August 22nd, 2011 at 03:54 | #8

    Hi Adam – I just stumbled across your blog. This one is a real gem – we are engineering specialists not marketeers and its always a struggle to come up with ideas for blogging. These 3 steps are priceless advice – thanks.

    Jason Moth

  9. September 21st, 2011 at 08:52 | #9

    I agree that creating content is most-effective tactic. But I have to learn more about tagging, effective content creation and building links. I didn’t know that two posts per week could be a tactic since I thought frequent posting could generate traffic. Anyway, I agree that it is important to respond to the inquiries and questions so that people would learn something through interaction.

  10. November 30th, 2011 at 05:18 | #10

    Participation in social network, news, bookmarking sites are very important in order to promote good content. Great content alone won’t do any good without showing it to the right people! Without promotion, the great content is nothing!

  11. January 24th, 2012 at 09:11 | #11

    I’m surprised that competitor benchmarking appeared to have higher level of ineffectiveness compared to the other tactics.

    -Luz, blogger from San Jose Internet Marketing

  12. February 19th, 2013 at 03:21 | #12

    Hi this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting
    to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.

    I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  13. February 25th, 2014 at 08:34 | #13

    Its obvious the shift of content marketing and having a blog of the success of an SEO strategy. However, it is still very difficult to convince businesses to go through this path most often due to the costs and time required.

  14. February 28th, 2014 at 11:50 | #14

    a very successful seo article thanks

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