Featured Internet Marketing

On cycling, near-death experiences and content

I biked to work today. Which has nothing to do with this post, except that I biked back, too. My ride home includes a 500-foot climb that pitches up to a 10%+ grade in a few places. No big deal when I was 30 (or even 40). But now, at 44, with about 10 extra pounds of paunch to haul around, I find that my tongue starts flapping in my spokes about 2/3 of the way up this teeny little climb.

Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this.

Today I hauled my excessively-jiggly butt up Avalon Way, then got into the left-turn lane for some blessed rest time. Alas. An oncoming driver in a mini-van swerved into the lane, heading straight for me at 20-25 mph while mouthing something that looked a lot like “You fudge sing mediate”. He missed. Don’t worry. It was close, though. For a second, Ian-as-really-lumpy-hood-ornament and Ian-as-sarcastic-writer co-existed. In that flash, two thoughts went through my sweaty brain:

I am pretty damned tired. This way the ambulance can take me the rest of the way home.


I’ll die while everyone still thinks I’m an SEO.

I was sad. Because I’m not an SEO. I’m a marketer. And as a marketer, I obsess about content.

For some reason, though, every time I talk about content, folks assume I’m talking about SEO.

I’m not.

Content strategy is one discipline. It’s one tactic.

SEO is another.

Do they help each other? Sure. But content drives all marketing. If you’re still paying $10/article for stuff that wouldn’t get a ‘C’ in elementary school… Well, I was going to say “You’re behind the times,” but the truth is that great content has driven great marketing since we lost most of our fur and started coherently grunting.

You can’t do social media without a content strategy. If you do, you end up being the vaguely creepy person who walks up to a group, interrupts a conversation with a totally unrelated remark, and then just stands there, smiling blankly.

You can’t do a PPC campaign without a content strategy. You need to be on-brand, on-message and clear. Otherwise, folks give up.

And yeah, SEO needs content, too. Good content. If you’re still asking questions like “How unique does my content have to be?,” you’ve totally missed the point.

Content isn’t a thing. You don’t buy it. It doesn’t spring forth, all at once, so that you can paste it all up on your web site and then go back to pretending it’s 1995 and the internet is just a fad. Content is the sum of all communications with your audience: Videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, Tweets, Facebook posts, your replies to Facebook posts. Everything you say becomes part of your ‘content’.

I love SEO. But content is the heart of all good marketing. So please, if you remember nothing else about me after some idiot makes me into a pothole repair kit, remember that SEO is not content, and content is not SEO. They complement each other. But they’re separate.

Did you know that Monday’s my birthday? You didn’t? Well, I’ll forgive you if you donate just a teeny sum to http://mycharitywater.org/portentint.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. Yes! Great distinction. I work at an agency and still struggle with getting clients to wrap their heads around this. Great content isn’t a one trick pony. It’s weaved through every method of communication. Sorry to hear about your near death experience. At least there weren’t any tacks on the road?

  2. Thank god you’re alright mate. And reading a lot of your post I have not associated you with SEO. I’ve always thought you were a great marketer. Perhaps its one of your post I have stumbled months back and have anchored me to remember you as a great marketer.
    Cheers! Now go and get healthy!

  3. Several things drive me crazy as a marketer who happens to be a darn skippy SEO:
    1. The people who assume you can SEO the shit outta shit. Bad content is bad SEO. Good content can still be bad SEO if the site architecture, taxonomy and technical setup sucks, of course. I’ve worked on my fair share of those — basically, they come in and ask “what’s wrong with our content?” and the answer is “you published it in that framework.”
    2. The people who ask: “Should I write a page of marketing, a case study, get testimonials, or what kind of content will I get good hits with?!?!?” Me: “What do you have to say?” Then they get all mad at me.
    By the way, you mostly slide off most mini-vans. They don’t have especially great hoods to land on. I was once hit by a Honda Accord. Did $20 in damage to my bike, blew a knee entirely. Ended up sitting on the hood of the car once hit. For hood-ornament perches, nothing beats a sedan.

  4. Brilliant. This is what I will refer people to when they ask me, “What is it you do again?” Also, I’m exhausted with the steady stream of requests I get to SEO the hell out of peoples’ sites.
    Kudos to your biking fortitude. I feel inspired to embark on my commute via velo now. This includes a haul up Capitol Hill. Egads!

Comments are closed.

Close Mobile Menu Button
Close search overlay