I think we can all agree that content marketing is an indispensable component of SEO and Internet marketing in general. Great content gets shared, which in turn creates inbound links to your website, which helps your site do better in the search engines, which drive more traffic to your site and so forth and so on. But too often site owners are just looking at content as a link building tactic. In reality, the content you are creating for your SEO, content marketing and social media marketing campaigns can serve a much greater purpose---it can turn your brand into a thought leader.

Here are 4 tips to becoming a thought leader in your industry:

1. Start producing more content.
If you are only writing one blog post a week, while a good place to start for many site owners, your solitary piece of content is not even a drop in the bucket when you compare it to how much information is being churned out online every day. Even in a relatively small niche, your content has to compete with blog posts, articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more. One piece of content is probably not going to make your brand stand out for long, even if you are able to write a piece of content that captures the attention of your audience. You need to give your target audience a reason to remember you, check out your blog a couple times a week, subscribe to your newsletter, follow your social profiles and so forth---and that means you need to product more content. If you want to become a thought leader, you have to consistently produce great content proving you deserve to be recognized.

2. Don't be afraid of giving away too much free information.
In my opinion, one of the worst things a company could do for their SEO is write a bunch of great, juicy, quality content and then lock it behind a login. I know that many companies are concerned about giving away too much information for free (why buy the cow, right?) but the truth is you have to prove to your audience that you are an expert---and this means providing them with relevant, useful information. Don't expect your reputation to mean much to an organic visitor that has never heard of your brand before. You have to prove yourself to them and your content is the best way to do that.

I'm not saying you can't put some of your content behind a login (or a lead form), but the majority of the content you produce needs to be openly published so both the search engines AND your customers can find and use it. Think about it--who are the thought leaders in your industry? Chances are most of them have blogs where they talk about the latest industry trends, best practice tips and so forth. They are willingly sharing expert advice, which helps further establish themselves as industry thought leaders!

3. Specialize in something.
Too often most people (especially marketers) feel the need to become jack-of-all-trades. I can understand wanting to know how different factions play into your niche, especially when they influence each other in some way (like how social media or content marketing works with SEO), but in order to become a true thought leader you need to be exceptionally good at one thing and know that industry inside and out. In order to provide people with valuable insights and not just general advice, you need to understand the subtleties of your niche; seen it all, heard it all, done it all. Thought leaders are, amazingly enough, leaders in their fields mainly because they know it better than anyone else.

4. Never stop learning.
A thought leader has to have their finger on the pulse of their industry; what's coming down the pipeline, how are customer behaviors changing, what industry trends are shifting and so forth. In order to stay ahead of the curve (or at least keep pace with the pack) you need to know what is going on! Read other industry blogs, attend conferences, follow other experts on social networking sites--just keep yourself immersed in the way things are and where they are going. Getting stuck on the way things used to be means you'll soon be an expert of old knowledge and no longer a thought leader.

Your content is worth so much more in the long run than a few inbound links! Make sure you are working it to it's full potential.

May 3, 2012

Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, one of the premier full service SEO firms in the United States. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.


Whilst I absolutely agree with you on points 2, 3 & 4 I'd, respectfully, question that point 1 should be more about consistency of timing than quantity (I appreciate you're talking of upping the number of quality posts so I'm not making a "quantity vs. quality" point).

I'd suggest that consistency of timing was more important than upping the quantity of posts. For example, if you produce great content once a week then make sure you stick to once a week. If it's twice a week then stick to that schedule and don't chop and change because you "didn't have time this week" etc.

With my consumer hat on I can think of several blogs / newsletters that publish content only around once a month yet the content is that good I eagerly await their next post. As a side note, I tend to check in those blogs fairly regularly to read the comments because the engagement is great.

It has occurred to me that my opinion is outdated somewhat due to the sheer quantity of content out there these days. What are your thoughts?

Hi Phil,

You make a great point. It's important to create a schedule and stick to it (although if you extra time one week it's better to get ahead!) so your audience learns when they can expect new content from you.

I like scanning through the comments on some blog posts as well, especially if the author took a strong stance. What are people's reactions? What's the feedback looking like? It's a great way to see all sides of an issue.


Right on the money! While everyone is busy complaining about the carnage from the penguin update, the smart ones are repositioning themselves as thought leaders or experts! Sound advice! It's not like this update is going to be the last one...they are going to keep shaking things top and the sites that are going to survive are going to be the sites that add value. Spammy content and bogus inbound links do not add value!

I wrote a similar article on this last night: http://www.marcensign.com/bulletproof-strategy-to-benefit-from-the-google-penguin-update/

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts! Keep up the good fight Nick :)

I love the idea, and it would be great to see even more people competing to become thought leaders. Who knows it might even improve the reputation of SEO.

It poses a bit of a challenge for us in the agency sphere. Becoming a thought leader for one industry is difficult, let alone two or three. Still I suppose that's the beauty of doing good SEO, it forces you to know the industries you work with and actually produce useful content.

Should hopefully help increase communication between clients and agencies. I know we have a couple of clients who produce content for us as someone who lives and breathes an industry will always produce better quality writing.

Thanks Nick for this informative post. I do agree with you. Great concept and great Idea that you have highlighted.I like all the tips that you have highlighted. It would be a help for all the thought leaders. Thanks for the share.

Agree entirely - never stop learning! And each time you learn something new, you have the basis for some new content and new knowledge to share. What could be better?

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Search Engine Guide > Nick Stamoulis > Don't Just Build Links, Become a Thought Leader