And the next content marketing growth area will be…

SEO is getting more difficult. Take Google: not moving the goalposts so much as aiming to do away with them altogether.

Challenges for 2017 include penalisations for intrusive email subscription popups, https and mobile-first. But some things don’t change and backlinks remain all important.

This is a particularly tough ask for e-commerce stores. How do you get a .edu site to backlink to your TV or toaster product page? The answer is content marketing.

In short: we think e-commerce sites will use this to replace SEO.

Retailers will have to concentrate on obtaining links. The easiest way to do so is through strong content marketing. Expect a sizeable shift in this direction in e-commerce budgets – and not just from the big players.

SEO vs content marketing

Google changes mean online retailers are constantly enhancing their websites. But there is another way. Create persuasive and useful product information and market it to get top-quality backlinks. Provide an editorial experience, not a sales brochure. Any retailer who does that will be rewarded by Google.

Evidence for this approach comes from the long list of affiliate sites driving millions of sales through to e-commerce operations.

In essence, affiliates just produce information. Retailers must do exactly the same and come up with content focused on people who are asking questions. Answer those and you will be viewed as a specialist.

No, not a whitepaper

At the same time you must embed the content alongside your product. E-books, whitepapers, along with other longer bits of information, aren’t going to help a store selling bicycle tyres. On the other hand, they could work for a more complicated product such as commercial banking software.

Above all make sure your content is both of an editorially high standard and simple to consume.

And the next content marketing growth area will be… is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.