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Elena Terenteva

Content Marketing and SEO #semrushchat

Elena Terenteva
Content Marketing and SEO #semrushchat

Hello, dear SEMrush Blog readers!

Today we are going to talk about one of the fundamental SEO issues. How do you mix SEO and content marketing to prepare a perfect marketing dish? What are the main problems that face content marketers and SEO specialists when working together? And of those two, who is the irreplaceable member of the marketing team? Our Twitter chat participants and special guest Sujan Patel, author of Content Marketing Playbook and VP of Marketing at @WhenIWork, know all the answers!

SEO + Content marketing workflow

First of all, stop thinking about content and SEO as two entirely unrelated disciplines.

Content and SEO collaboration is not something that’s simply worth trying. “Understanding search behavior can inform content strategy, thus leading to meaningful content marketing” - Adam Dince ‏@AdamDince. You should keep one goal in mind – your SEO and content specialists should become best buddies, because joint effort is always best.

Here is a plan to make this happen:

• Identify your company’s needs;

• Identify users;

• Set goals;

• Develop a joint strategy;

• Spend time on joint idea generation;

• Conduct keyword research;

• Create a content plan;

• Develop content;

• Optimize your content;

• Develop a content distribution tactic (link building);

• Analyze the results of your efforts.

Based on tweets from Nathan Gotch ‏@GotchSEO, Sergio Redondo ‏@sergio_redondo, and ThinkSEM ‏@ThinkSEM.

As you can see, implementing this plan won’t require a lot of your time, just the time and effort of SEOs or content specialists. One really important thing you need to remember:

It’s true. No matter how good your strategy is, how experienced your SEO team is or how many followers you have on social media, if your content is weak, it’s not going to work. Dear SEOs, we are not just talking about poor grammar here – your content should be written for human beings, not just for machines – and it shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords!

Grant Simmons, in response to Julia McCoy, suggests an even bigger vision of this issue.

To measure the quality of content, read it like a user! And it’s a good argument for SEOs, who can be overly enthusiastic about keywords, and for writers, who may ignore the importance of substantiative and engaging content because they believe SEO will bring their articles to the top anyway.

recap Q1

What are things a content marketer should definitely know about SEO?

“Without SEO, no one will see the nice content you created,” as Granulr ‏@Granulruk says. At the same time, a useless article stuffed with SEO-friendly words will bring no profit as well. SEO and content should supplement, strengthen and support each other.

The idea is that you have two audiences – search engines and human beings – and you want to satisfy both. “Use keywords to please Google and great content containing those keywords to please people” - Smarter Searches ‏@SmarterSearches.

Do not forget that your audience should come before search engines; create content in response to your audience’s needs.

Although even the greatest content can be more successful with the help of SEO. To implement it in a right way, a content marketer will need some tech skills. As Anthony Randall ‏@tonyxrandall point out, “if you're a ‘content marketer’ without at least some technical SEO knowledge, then you're just a blogger.”

After your content goes live, regularly update it.

Recap Q2

In what cases should the SEO always listen to the content marketer?

Now let’s turn the situation around – it’s time for content people to talk and for SEO people to listen. The main thing they both need to discuss right from the beginning is their audience. And content people are a trustworthy and reliable source of information.

Now let's talk about choosing topics. Of course a content specialist who knows their audience will not have difficulty choosing topics.

But your content team doesn’t necessarily have to lead every time. Your SEO team can also choose topics that will resonate with your audience.

We can see two opposite points of view here, so our advice: don’t listen to anyone who insists on a clear delineation of tasks and wants to draw a line of separation between SEO and content! Listen to a specialist who has user intent in mind and a deep understanding of your audience’s needs – job titles matter less than results.

Recap Q3

Conflicts between a content marketer and a SEO

Yes, the line between content and SEO is blurring, and from year to year this trend is gaining strength. Bryce Liggins ‏@BryceLiggins made a good point here: “Am I crazy for thinking that SEOs and content marketers should have the same job? It’s 2015, not 2001.” But still, there can be varying opinions on different aspects of content creation and distribution.

One way or another, the battle between SEO and content teams continues. Maybe text is more important...

...or maybe it’s all about visual appearance....

Well, this battle can be reconciled with minimal losses. What should be really scared of are other battles which make your users suffer.

If the actions of one team negatively affect users, that’s bad! A writer can sacrifice a title for the sake of SEO if the article is still informative and nice to read. You could say it’s a win-win situation for both marketing teams and readers. But if you turn good text into unreadable nonsense and worry only about rankings, you’d better stop and think.

Also, don't forget to properly measure your content’s success. All metrics matter here – from social shares and number of visits to backlinks and rankings.

Recap Q4

Panda 4.2.

All of our participants agreed that Panda 4.2 didn’t provide us with anything new, so we’ll move along. Much more interesting were our participants' ideas about the future if Google's content-related updates. 

Predictions of Google's  Content-related Updates  Evolution

A content marketer or an SEO?

Of course, it would be perfect to have both an SEO and a content marketer who work together closely only your team, as “SEO without good content isn't valuable, and great content without SEO is lost” - Hillary Benton ‏@hellohillaryb.

Yet most of our participants agreed that if you have to choose only one, it would be better to keep the content marketer.

SEO is easier to outsource; a content creator should have deep knowledge of the business they are working for – its peculiarities and niche.

And another thing: if you have to choose between content without SEO and SEO without content, the first choice makes much more sense.

So, according to a majority of our chat participants, if your budget does not allow you to hire both a content marketer and an SEO specialist, the best choice would be to find a person who knows both – or teach one of your team members.

And it’s often easier to learn some technical skills than it is to learn how to write good content.

Recap Q6

Thank you to all of our #semrushchat guests and participants!

Do you have any further thoughts on this topic? We welcome your comments.

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush.

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