Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing are often mistaken for the same marketing strategy. And we don’t blame them because both SEO and content marketing rely on quality content.
As such, these two digital marketing strategies are closely related and complementary. We like to say every on-page SEO is content marketing, but not every content marketing is SEO.
To understand how these two marketing disciplines complement each other, let’s break down the equation into simple factors. Let’s begin by briefly explaining what SEO and content marketing are.
What is SEO?
Professional SEO services include a range of activities that are all designed to do one thing – improve your organic search visibility in Google. It improves the visibility of your website to search engine crawlers, brings organic traffic, and ensures you position well in search engine results pages (SERP) for the target keywords.
Within SEO, we distinguish the on-page, off-page, and technical SEO processes which work together to achieve the ultimate goal – ranking in the top positions of the SERP:
- On-page SEO are the actions you perform on the site’s pages such as creating quality content, structuring and formatting it for better user experience, defining meta tags, and so on.
- Off-page SEO begins when you launch your SEO content. Off-page SEO refers to the tactics outside your website that affect your website’s performance on search engines, most notably backlinking, i.e. link building.
- Technical SEO refers to maintaining optimization and site technical performance monitoring such as loading speeds and interlinking, analyzing the site’s data and performance, as well as the competition.
SEO cannot work on its own. It is based on creating quality content that would rank on the search engines. Blog posts, articles, product descriptions, and categories are just some of the content types you can optimize for the keywords that your target audience searches for.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is one of the best and most effective digital marketing strategies, and this can be confirmed by experts from the best content marketing agency.
This inbound digital marketing discipline involves regularly creating, publishing, and distributing quality, relevant, unique, and valuable content designed to attract the target audiences into your conversion funnel.
The benefits of content marketing include building thought leadership, lead generation, increasing conversion rates, and increasing organic traffic with the help of SEO.
Content marketing is a form of unobtrusive advertising. In other words: you don’t have to pursue your prospects to put your brand in front of them and generate interest; instead, you rely on quality content to attract and engage your target audience with valuable information, guides, and other content types.
As such, the content you create must be high quality, and we can’t emphasize this enough. You can do perfect SEO, but if it relies on low quality or plagiarized content, you won’t be able to deceive search engines or users – at least not for very long.
Good content is the rocket, and correctly done SEO is the fire that launches it into space.
How to incorporate SEO in your content marketing strategy
If your content marketing strategy includes creating website content such as landing pages and blogs, by incorporating SEO you can tap into a passive and sustainable source of traffic.
To add SEO to your website content strategy, you’ll need to rethink the content creation process:
Start your content planning with keyword research.
Keyword research is an essential part of search engine optimization. It determines the types of content you should create to stand a chance of ranking for the target keyword.
Although we mostly associate keywords with SEO, they can improve your content marketing. Keywords help customers find your content, and search engines recognize them in your blog posts and articles. Keywords also help you understand what are the answers your customers are looking for, helping you identify the content that would bring most value to them.
Use a keyword research tool to find the keywords and phrases your target audiences may be searching for when or even before they begin their buyers’ journey. Focus on the search volume and keyword difficulty metrics to identify the best keyword options, i.e. the ones that recorded the most monthly searches and have the weakest competition on search engines.
There are numerous keyword research tools you can use, such as Ahrefs, Moz, Semrush, and the free alternatives such as Ubersuggest. But if you’re struggling, digital marketing agencies might be the ideal solution
The more relevant and related keywords you cover, the greater the chances you have to rank. To maximize your chances of ranking, focus on longtail keywords as these tend to have the lowest competition while attracting audiences with higher purchase intent.
Create content for readers first and search engines next.
While it may give new content a bit of a boost for a week or two, when deciding which content to rank on the first page of the search results, Google takes into account your web page’s metrics such as average session duration, i.e. how long the average user has stayed on your page.
What does this mean for your content creation process?
Think about your target user before thinking about search engines.
If you want to see long-term SEO gains, create content that will answer your users’ queries completely and accurately in an easy-to-read and engaging format. And, think beyond the copy; engaging web content is as visual as it is text-based.
Create longform content to provide more value to readers and search engines.
How long should an article be to improve its chances of ranking on search engines?
There is no universal answer to this question. Your post can rank well even if it is 500 to 700 words long if you give your readers complete, valuable information to their query. Articles of 1000 to 1500 words give you more opportunities to incorporate the desired keywords
We can almost certainly conclude that Google algorithms like longer posts, but only if they make sense. If you offer substantial information, it is OK that your text counts more than 2,500 words. However, if you’re going on and on without making a point, your article will be tiring, and readers will abandon it.
Consistencyis key to success.
Some research suggests that Google prefers content on websites that are regularly updated and consistently growing. According to HubSpot, smaller companies or bloggers should publish content between 1 and 4 times a week, while large companies should post new pieces at least once (and preferably several times) a day.
On the content marketing side, regularly publishing new content keeps your readers engaged as they will keep coming back for more helpful information
We recommend thinking beyond frequency alone. Instead of randomly populating your content calendar with new topics – keyword-optimized or not – consider developing a content cluster strategy. A content cluster strategy relies on one pillar content, or master topic, broken down into subsections in your domain. These will speak to your expertise, which will increase your authority and credibility in the eyes of search engines.
Backlinks speed up and improve content ranking.
Backlinks are the external links – links from other websites – that lead to your website.
If the website you are getting a link from is credible and authoritative, the backlink it sends will signal search engines that your content is trustworthy. In doing so, the third-party website transfers part of its authority to yours. The opposite is true for suspicious third-party website. If you get your backlinks from questionable sites or reciprocally exchanged links, Google may flag you or sanction you for using black hat SEO tactics.
Re-evaluate all of your external links and check where they come from. The site’s authority, a.k.a. domain rating, is a reliable indicator, and you can see it with the help of tools such as Ahrefs. Remove all suspicious and poor-quality links so that you do not lose credibility.
Can SEO and content marketing be applied individually?
Content marketing without SEO is possible, though you may be doing your content a huge disservice by forgoing this sustainable and lucrative source of organic traffic.
SEO, technically, cannot function without quality content and, therefore, content marketing. It is content that gets optimized and that ranks on search engines, so SEO is largely rooted in content marketing.
- We recommend adding SEO to your content marketing strategy by rethinking how you plan your content calendar and how you create your website content itself. Plan your website content based on keyword research
- Create long-form content that provides complete and accurate answers to your audience’s queries
- Create content with your audience in mind as their on-site behavior will dictate your SEO performance
- Publish content consistently to “show” Google that your website is up-to-date and growing
- Focus on gaining backlinks by attracting other content creators to link to your valuable, search-optimized website content
Link building is a significant step for both SEO and your content marketing strategy. By publishing quality content regularly, you will eventually establish yourself as an authority in your domain. As your reputation in your industry grows, you will have less and less trouble gaining backlinks.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.