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Understanding Google, SEO and Content Marketing - Meetup Report

[fa icon="calendar'] 12-Oct-2016 10:16:00 / by Peter Smith

More than 60 people crowded the Pineapple Hotel in Kangaroo Point to listen to two remarkable speakers reveal the secrets of SEO in 2016.

Both presenters summed up the new SEO secret sauce in a single word – content.

Content is the new SEO

David McMahon - the convener of Brisbane’s HubSpot User Group - introduced the evening’s speakers Jason Dutton-Smith and Brendan Lidster.  Jason runs his own travel writing studio called Word Connect.  For many years Jason was the Editor in Chief for Flight Centre.  Brendan is the Head of Engagement Media at the highly regarded Reload Media.

The audience was evenly split between regular HubSpot User Group members and first-timers attracted by the highly topical subject matter.  Once again, HubSpot provided the venue and the hospitality for the evening.


Traditional SEO and why it’s dying

Both speakers emphasised the strides that search engine technology (SEO) has made over the past five years and gave us insights into how Google ranks content.  Google has released three major updates to its search algorithms all aimed at identifying sites and content that offer meaningful, valuable information that engages and informs users.

In the past, traditional SEO “scamming” was relatively easy according to Brendan Lidster from Reload. The “dark arts” of old SEO included two hoary favourites:

  • Keyword stuffing or putting as many instances of a keyword on the page as possible;
  • Link farming – linking to sites whose sole purpose is to provide inbound links to spoof page rank algorithms.

It is the authenticity and value of your blog or website content – not just the technical SEO - that is the key to driving high value traffic to a website according to Jason Dutton-Smith.  Users have to “Buy into you before they buy from you”, he said. 

Search engines are now sophisticated enough to determine if your content has “Relevancy, Trust and Value”.  Your content is marked up if it has these properties and it is punished if it does not.

Search engines are smart and getting smarter according to Brendan Lidster and if you want to know how best to make your content rank well in the future, then just think what Google has done, would do or might do.  All that boils down to search engines identifying content that visitors find engaging, authoritative and useful.


SEO or content marketing – is there a conflict?

Although the title of Jason Dutton-Smith’s presentation was “WHY CONTENT MARKETING IS THE NEW SEO” he answered his own question with an amusing “couples therapy session” video that featured a discussion between Mr SEO and Ms Content.  


 Video copyright ©2016 Conductor

In fact both SEO and content are necessary, albeit with a need to harmonise a little more.

Jason said that content marketers need to focus on the right kind of quality content delivered in an appropriate medium - blog, social media, video, podcasts etc. Meanwhile modern SEO has to look at content focussed keywords that tap into the user’s search queries and to providing real, shareable backlinks within the content. 

In short he said, “Without content, there is no search. Without search, no one would find your content.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on content and SEO

Brendan Lidster generously gave us his ultimate cheat sheet on content and SEO.  I’ve provided some details on Brendan’s presentation and suggested links on each of the topics he discussed if you want to research things further.

Content marketing and SEO is all about delivering value to the visitor by providing useful, actionable information that is relevant to the user’s search query. 

Measuring how well your website does this can get quite technical said Brendan, with some of the key measures being:

  • Relative click through rate (do users click your link after the search results are displayed)
  • Short vs long clicks (did they stay on your content)
  • Task completion (measuring how easy is it for users to complete actions e.g. forms on your pages)
  • Content gap fulfilment (are there exploitable gaps in current content results and can you fill them)
how long should content be
How long is a piece of string?

And the final question that several people asked – how long should a piece of content be?

The answer – “How long is a piece of string? . . . . or more helpfully:  long enough to answer your customer’s question and no longer.”

By the way, Article Writers Australia provided a door prize at the HubSpot User Group. 

The $300 gift certificate for professional writing and blogging services was won by Phillip Yee of 

For Article Writers take on producing quality content you can download their free eBook called 10 Processes Digital Marketing Agencies Need to Produce Quality Content.

See you at the next Brisbane HUG event - Peter Smith

Peter Smith

Written by Peter Smith

Peter is Article Writers Australia Queensland manager. He is a writer, software developer and a business manager.