SEO and Content Marketing: How To Combine Them Effectively To Achieve Results
SEO and content marketing are the two primary entities that drive all of digital marketing. However, average business owners often fail to understand what makes these two practices unique and what binds them together.
While both practices are distinct and require varying levels of expertise, they are inextricably bound together and cannot provide results without the other’s assistance.
If you’re unsure where you land in the discussion of content marketing vs SEO, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to provide you with clear-cut definitions of each service, explain why they need to work together, and the steps you can take to get powerful results with SEO content marketing.
Content Marketing vs SEO – What’s the Difference?
Before we dive too deep, let’s establish our foundation by exploring what these digital marketing strategies are in isolation.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is a digital advertising technique in which brands strategically create content to market their business and achieve specific goals. Content marketing can help fulfill a variety of purposes including promoting brand awareness, acquiring new leads, and driving sales.
It’s also a common mistake to assume that content marketing refers to blog writing only. In truth, any content, whether it be on your main website pages, landing pages, or paid ads is content marketing. What changes in each of these instances is the tone and objective of the content in order to meet your audience’s needs at specific stages in the buyer’s journey.
Examples of content marketing can include webpage text, articles, newsletters, email blasts, blogs, or social media posts. In each scenario, a content writer is looking to identify the best way to communicate with a segment of your audience to achieve a specific goal or conversion.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the act of optimizing a web page, so that search engine crawlers can easily interpret the type of content it contains. When the crawler is able to accurately identify a page, the search engine algorithm can successfully deliver it to the right audience on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO not only increases the visibility of your website pages but will help you to connect with better-qualified leads. Without best SEO practices, it’s likely that algorithms can make mistakes in understanding your webpage and deliver it to less interested individuals browsing the internet. This results in fewer page clicks and increased bounce rates.
Low or nonexistent activity on a web page over the course of time will actually hurt your SEO and impair your brand’s discoverability.
What’s the Relationship Between SEO and Content Marketing?
With the definition of each subject clear in your mind, it becomes clear why the two are inseparable and are meant to operate in unison. Content marketing performs the heavy lifting when it comes to attracting and converting your website visitors, while SEO ensures that the right users can actually discover your new content at any given time.
It’s not a contest between which marketing strategy is more helpful for your brand. Rather, an SEO strategy without content marketing is incomplete and vice-versa. Utilizing SEO to attempt to make your pages visible will mean very little if there is no content. Furthermore, those efforts would be in vain because the structure of the content and what it contains is an integral part of making SEO work.
You can find an introduction to SEO and some recommended guidelines courtesy of Google here. While we recommend recruiting an SEO expert to improve your website and guide the content creation process, it is beneficial for all team members to grasp the basics of the best practices for SEO.
Effective SEO generally includes the following:
- High-quality, informative content
- Using high-volume keywords effectively within the content
- Structuring content with short paragraphs and engaging headlines
- Optimizing page URLs and website navigation
- Improving page load speeds
- Optimizing for all devices
How to Implement SEO Content Marketing Effectively?
Next, we’re going to provide you with expert tips for combining both. By deploying these tactics, you and your team can benefit from effective SEO and content marketing that synergizes for maximum effect.
1. Create Content That Speaks to Both Users and Search Engines
Because SEO and content marketing are complementary, you need to create your content with SEO in mind from the ground up. Writing first and thinking of SEO as an afterthought is likely to result in an incoherent product that doesn’t excel as an informative product nor as an effective SEO tool. Instead, you’ll want to focus on some vital principles before you ever start typing your first words.
2. Perform Extensive Keyword Research and Focus on Keyword Intent
Keywords are the bedrock of how users communicate with search engines to discover new content. These can consist of a single word, short phrases, or long-form questions, otherwise known as long-tail keywords. When a user enters a keyword into the search field, the search algorithm automatically locates indexed content from web pages and displays the most relevant results that contain that keyword.
This means that to create effective SEO content, you need to investigate the keywords your audience is using to discover brands such as yours. However, you want to focus on additional factors other than search volume such as keyword difficulty and average cost-per-click. This will help you determine how difficult it will be to outrank competitors for that keyword and whether or not the estimated ROI will be worthwhile.
Secondly, don’t make the rookie mistake of ignoring the intent behind the keyword. If you were looking to rank for keywords related to “SEO content,” for example, you might find keywords such as “what is SEO content” or “best SEO content.”
These two examples may have entirely different intentions. The first is unquestionably an informational keyword, meaning that the user wants to gain knowledge and is not immediately looking to buy a product or service. The latter example is a little more ambiguous. Terms like “best,” “worst,” or “affordable” are typically transactional keywords, which express an immediate intent to buy. But, it can also be informational in that the user wants to learn how to create the best SEO content.
Understanding the intention behind using a keyword is key to creating effective SEO content for your readers. When you use a keyword effectively as the basis for your content marketing, search engines will have an easier time knowing how to rank your content and serve it to the ideal audience.
3. Optimize Metadata
Every web page on the internet possesses metadata. Metadata is information that describes other data. Examples of this include a page’s meta description, which summarizes all of the content on a webpage in roughly 160 characters. Other examples include the page title, the author, alternative text for images, and the date of publishing.
Optimizing a page’s metadata for SEO further assists search engine crawlers in determining what your web page contains. Not only does it add clear descriptors for parts of the webpage, but it can also serve as additional opportunities to sell your content and further your keyword usage.
For example, the best practices for a meta description are to include your primary keyword and advertise your content in a succinct 150-160 characters. Your search will feature any keywords in your description in bold for increased visibility. You also have full control over your messaging, meaning you can create intrigue and sell users on the value of your webpage over others. Just be sure to keep your information and accurate and avoid misleading the user.
4. Link Relevant Content Pages Together for Improved SEO
A core aspect of an SEO strategy is link building. Link building is the practice of linking two pieces of related content together in an effort to drive additional traffic to those pages. As the number of quality inbound links pointing to a page increases, so too will its search rankings. This consists of two types of links: internal links and backlinks.
Internal links are links between two pages on the same domain. These are easier to implement as you have full control over your own content and how you choose to incorporate these links. You’ll want to seek out natural opportunities to reference your other content whenever it becomes relevant. You do not want to stuff internal links onto a page just for the sake of doing so. Providing irrelevant links can confuse crawlers or even prompt them to flag your content as misleading or intrusive advertising.
Backlinks are links that a page on your site receives from an external domain. When it comes to backlinks, SEOs typically use the analogy of viewing connected websites like neighborhoods. If you receive backlinks from websites with poor reputations and SEO, it can hurt your site’s SEO even if you are utilizing best practices. Conversely, a healthy number of quality backlinks can significantly improve your SEO and search rankings.
Acquiring backlinks takes more effort and will require you to connect with others online through social outreach. However, the benefits of obtaining healthy backlinks are worthwhile in helping you to increase the visibility of your content. You should also regularly examine your backlinks profile and look for any toxic domains you want to disavow.
In both examples, search engines utilize these links as yet another way to understand your website’s content and how it relates to other content online. These links help to define relationships, which then creates a clear picture of your entire brand and what you have to offer to users discovering your brand through a search engine.
5. Create and Upload an XML Sitemap
You can further help your SEO content by speeding up the indexing process. Webmasters can do this by creating an XML sitemap. A sitemap details all of your website’s most important pages and which are available for crawling. Your sitemap can also list exclusions of any URLs you might wish to exclude from crawling for specific SEO purposes.
Faster indexing means that your positive SEO updates get indexed faster, meaning improved site quality for search rankings. It can also help you to avoid penalties toward your SEO regarding known issues that your team is already working to address. You can learn how to build and submit a sitemap with Google here.
6. Consistently Update Your Site with New and Accurate Content
Search engines not only check content for structure and quality but also take note of how often you publish and update pages on your domain. If you allow your website to grow stagnant, search engine crawlers will take notice and begin to view your content as old or outdated.
Limiting the content on your website not only allows you to look dated, but it ultimately limits how many gateways that users have to access your content. When you regularly create new pages that target new topics and keywords, you’re essentially creating alternative avenues for users to discover your brand. Planting more seeds and watering them regularly is more likely to produce a strong harvest than letting your plot run dry.
One of the most popular and effective ways to do this is to add a blog to your website. Every business online can benefit from adding one for the reasons described above. It also gives you more freedom to discuss industry-relevant topics that don’t necessarily fit on any of your core website pages. Quality, informational blogs are also prime bait for encouraging users to share your SEO content on their own site or through social media.
However, it’s important to avoid cannibalizing your existing content by producing repeat topics or overusing targeted keywords. You can avoid this by creating and utilizing a company-wide content calendar to plan out your posts ahead of time and avoid any gaps in publishing. Even as your number of website pages grows, you’ll always have an outline available to help inform future keyword research.
Content Marketing vs SEO: It’s No Longer a Competition
Before search algorithms advanced to where they are today, webmasters often focused on content for SEO instead of content marketing for the customer. What resulted was a lot of poorly-written content that existed just so the owner could stuff high volume keywords. Luckily, those days are long behind us.
Instead, content marketing is now a vital component of any SEO strategy worth it’s salt. Businesses can now create more high-quality content that serves the needs of their customers while also helping search engines interpret all of the data that exists on the page. Both must be present, however. Without SEO, your content won’t be focused enough on user needs to be seen. Without content, your SEO is working to deliver nothing of value to the user.
If you’d like to learn more tips on how to create better, SEO-friendly content, you can do so here. For more tips on how to make your overall site SEO-friendly and improve your search rankings, click here. If you lack the ability or team resources to implement your own SEO and content, check out DashClicks expert fulfillment services to help get your website running.
Final note – While SEO and content marketing can produce powerful results when combined effectively, it requires time and commitment. Stick to the best practices, update regularly, and stay the course. Don’t miss out on the powerful benefits of both by disrupting your strategy prematurely.