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!
First of all, stop thinking about content and SEO as two entirely unrelated disciplines.
A1: important to remember that SEO & content marketing both fall under inbound. Remember this & treat as 2 seeds in the 1 pot #semrushchat
— Nat Rubyan-Ling (@Nat_RL1) August 12, 2015
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.
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!
A1 Rule of thumb for content marketing & SEO. Content is #1. Think of readers/engagement & being original instead of keywords #semrushchat
— Julia McCoy (@JuliaEMcCoy) August 12, 2015
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.
“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.
A2. That you don't just SEO an article. It should be baked into the content process, from ideation to promotion. #semrushchat
— Matthew Young (@MatthewAYoung) August 12, 2015
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.
— Marianne Sweeny (@msweeny) August 12, 2015
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.
A2.3 Update Content = Add quotes, content upgrades, respond to comments, images, video, slideshare, other useful info #semrushchat
— Sujan Patel (@sujanpatel) August 12, 2015
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.
A3: Content marketers know the topics to talk about, SEOs know how to give visibility to this content; it's mutual feedback #semrushchat
— Sergio Redondo (@sergio_redondo) August 12, 2015
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.
A3) The SEO should provide the topic research and advice, the CM should provide brand voice, content. #semrushchat — Ryan Johnson (@rsj8000) August 12, 2015
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.
A3 an SEO should learn to become a content marketer; a content marketer should learn to be an SEO; it's possible to learn both. #semrushchat
— Bill Slawski (@bill_slawski) August 12, 2015
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...
A4) The battle for headlines! It's not a magazine – you have to optimize for search and clicks! #semrushchat
— Ryan Johnson (@rsj8000) August 12, 2015
...or maybe it’s all about visual appearance....
A4: Design can cause conflicts. SEOs want text on the page. Content marketers love big visual elements (like infographics) #semrushchat
— Louise Dickens (@_LouiseDickens) August 12, 2015
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.
A4: Measuring success of content - Short term social love is good, but I prefer long term SEO value personally. #semrushchat
— Callis (@callis1987) August 12, 2015
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.
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.
A6. A content marketer - sorry - because they can easily pick up the SEO they need. #semrushchat, but the reverse is less true.
— Reva Minkoff (@revaminkoff) August 12, 2015
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.
#semrushchat A6. 100% content strategist. Great content is its own SEO. Great SEO doesn't do crap for garbage content.
— Chris Desadoy (@EliteYouTubePro) August 12, 2015
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.
A6) A content marketer. SEO can be learnt, a natural flair for content and copywriting often can't! #semrushchat
— Don't be Shy (@dontbeshyagency) August 12, 2015
Thank you to all of our #semrushchat guests and participants!
Do you have any further thoughts on this topic? We welcome your comments.