Content marketing has a history that is much older than the internet, which started in the 1960s and became popular in the 1990s. It even goes back further than the public relations industry, which blossomed in the 1920s. While the term "content marketing" has only started to become a buzz word in business, its function has existed at least since colonial newspapers of the early 1700s. The idea of replacing sales pitches with information about a product or service has become the essence of modern online content marketing, which includes link building, a form of directing people to further information.
Similar to how movies promoted books and books promoted movies in subtle ways, online content marketing is all about engaging with consumers in knowledge expanding scenarios. The marketer gains the consumer's attention while the consumer gains knowledge. One of the most classic forms of content marketing that has carried over into the new century has been customer reviews. Long before Amazon seized this important publishing technique to become the biggest online shopping center, books and magazines promoted movies, music and other products with professional and consumer reviews. Now more than ever, these reviews are at people's fingertips, allowing them to make smarter purchasing decisions.
When search engines began to index the internet in the 1990s, they were somewhat easy to game, as the tech industry was beginning to learn about the nature of popularity. At first they assumed that links to websites were a measure of popularity. Eventually they learned that links can be manipulated in many ways, such as one web owner creating several sites that interlink multiple times. Link swapping also became a fad as florists linked to cement contractors, who linked to jewelers. Many times links just went to dead or useless sites. So the search engines stepped up their algorithms in an effort to weed out useless sites.
These days it's unwise for web owners to just swap links with anyone. At the same time, organic link building has become an essential part of SEO. While search engines now punish sites for weak links, they are more likely to reward sites for sending users to important sites as references or deeper content. As search engines have evolved, so has SEO and content marketing. No longer is it necessary to know a long list of gimmicks to achieve high search rankings. It's now more important to provide users with original useful content and meaningful links to other important web pages.
Social media has also played a dramatic role in the evolution of content marketing. People now share a wealth of links on social networks, which is becoming a major factor in how people learn about news and entertainment. Your web pages can get high rankings for specific keywords if they outperform competitors on social networks through linkage. That's why it's becoming extremely important to engage with your customer through sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. As long you avoid unnecessary link spamming and focus on sharing information, your business will likely gain advantages by interacting with users and sharing links.
If you focus on organic link building and other white hat SEO techniques, your business can only benefit. Organic link building is a form of content marketing that uses links for informative rather than strictly statistical purposes.