There seems to be a lot of confusion in the marketing world about two vital, but different, digital marketing techniques: SEO and content marketing.
It is easy to see how someone would be confused since they often appear in articles and blogs as separate entities, and many marketing specialists draw a line in the sand somewhere between the two.
The truth is a lot more complicated. Content marketing and SEO are natural complements to each other. They both fuel each other and act as the necessary gears of any successful digital marketing campaign.
To get a clearer understanding of how they complement each other, let us break them down individually first.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques that ensures that content and web pages are visible to a specific audience that a marketer wishes to target. Simply put, it is what helps match your particular web page with your target demographic’s search query.
The goal of SEO is to get the right eyes on the right piece of content, each time. Through targeted optimization, technical tune-ups, and regular adjustments to these things, an SEO expert helps drive traffic through more organic sources, like search engines.
Without content, be it web pages, blogs, product descriptions, articles, or even images and videos, SEO would struggle. SEO cannot work by itself - it needs content to help match those specific search queries utilizing keywords.
After all, all those results for “How Does SEO Work?” do not appear by magic; there are real people on the other end, helping a search engine better understand how to categorize content.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is precisely what it implies: marketing using content. It is the basis of all sorts of digital marketing campaigns. That blog post from last week can be used on social media platforms to gain more traction, but the real rocket fuel of most content marketing is the SEO work done in the background.
Having great SEO does not mean that your content can be lackluster, though. SEO is not a potion that fixes bad blogs and websites and makes them magically appear on page one of search results.
One of the many factors that search engines consider when looking at content is quality. If your content marketing is full of errors, inconsistencies, or is poorly written, there is not enough SEO in the world to fix that.
You need to produce content that your specific target audience will enjoy, content that will provide a solution or entertainment to a searcher.
Bringing SEO and Content Marketing Together
It is not a question of SEO versus content marketing. It is a question of how you are going to improve the visibility of your already excellent content with strong SEO. If you are just getting started with either one, here are some ways you can use content marketing and SEO together to get better results:
Design Your Content with Search Engines in Mind
This does not mean you should stuff your content with keywords, circa 2005. Instead, it means being mindful of how a search engine works. A search engine tries to figure out what a page or blog is about, then catalogs it accordingly.
From a content marketing standpoint, this might mean breaking your content into individual topic areas, with each as narrowly focused as possible.
For example, if you have a car dealership and you want to do some heavy-duty content marketing for the brands you tend to have in stock, you would not want to put your Chevrolets and Fords on the same page. You would have both a Chevy page and a Ford page. Or you would have a page for sedans and another for SUVs. The tighter your focus, the easier it is for a search engine to figure out where it fits best in the bigger picture.
If you need help coming up with keywords that make sense for your business so you can write properly optimized content, use the Keyword Magic Tool to find inspiration. And the On Page SEO Checker can help you analyze even further - getting content and strategy ideas and much more!
Keep Up with Continual Content
Although this is mostly a part of content marketing strategy, there is SEO in there, too. One of the factors search engines look at is how often you publish new content. This is great for a blog or site that gets regular updates, but if you have been slacking off or are just starting to produce content, establishing a content publication schedule helps tremendously.
Each new piece not only signals that you are still publishing and relevant, but it also adds more potential topics and keywords to your list of searches that can bring in traffic. This helps increase your authority, as well, with more articles written on a range of topics and subtopics.
Where SEO plays a part here is in making sure the content is balanced for your site and that you are not relying too hard on one element of your business and ignoring others that also need attention.
SEO specialists use analytics and other technical tools to ensure that the gaps continue to remain filled and that any new areas you would like to explore are being addressed appropriately within the framework of your site.
Evaluate the Value of Your Links
You have probably read elsewhere that when you are getting linkbacks from “bad neighborhoods,” it does very little for your SEO and can even be damaging under some circumstances.
SEO can help you figure out what neighborhoods are most desirable for your purposes, and which ones you would rather not be caught in. It is not just about link monitoring, but this is an integral part of the process. After all, a link from a transmission repair website is not likely to be seen as very relevant (read: valuable) to your recipe blog.
In turn, good content marketing with proper SEO can get you into a better neighborhood - and fast!
When your content starts showing up higher in the search engine results, which many people use to find high-quality information sources, you are going to see your backlink numbers begin to swell. As more significant and more reputable sites start linking to you, the search engines’ algorithms will recognize this and reward your pages’ rankings accordingly.
SEO Versus Content Marketing: Can You Have One and Not the Other?
Content and SEO need to work together to provide users with relevant, attention-grabbing content. If you sell a great product, you need to write content that attracts users. That requires a solid SEO strategy. SEO should be a substantial part of the planning that goes into developing a proper content marketing plan; it is not meant to be an afterthought or an option. If no one can see your content, is it content marketing?
There is a certain synergy that exists between SEO and content marketing, especially when both are done well and coordinated. This is why top-notch content marketing firms have relationships with SEO experts; they know they need SEO to make content work.
If you are doing your own marketing, you need to approach it just like a professional content marketer would, especially when it comes to SEO. That means knowing your audience, understanding your topic, having an idea of your overall strategy, all while optimizing your content for search.
It sounds like a lot of work, but your analytics data will show you just how big the payoff is down the road.
SEO and content marketing are a marathon, after all, not a sprint.