Content marketing has been at the core of virtually every business’ marketing strategy. Since the dawn of online marketing, it has piqued the interest of hundreds of people, including entrepreneurs, business owners, and companies across industries. Although we’ve all seen its popularity skyrocket in recent years, the concept is nothing new, especially to marketers, as it has been around well over centuries now.
While content marketing is a strategy that has existed for hundreds of years, it still remains relevant, vital even, until this very day as it continues to bring brands and their products closer to consumers from across the globe.
In today’s digitally-driven world where we are seeing an explosion of content being produced every day, more and more people are consuming information faster than ever. In turn, content marketing is steadily evolving and its rise isn’t likely to dwindle, let alone face a sudden crash anytime soon.
It may have gone through an extreme transformation over the past decade with drastic shifts in trends and countless twists and turns along the way since its inception, but one thing remains true: it is a strategy that focuses on building real relationships and delivering genuine value to consumers.
Nowadays, the vast majority of brands are embracing content marketing as one of the main pillars in having a sound overall brand strategy, creating a myriad of brilliant content promoting their products and services—but, that’s just half of it.
Despite producing quality content being an important aspect in content marketing, if no one sees them, then it won’t deliver any value to your customers—defeating the fundamental purpose of the concept. For this, content distribution plays a key role in promoting different types of content through various channels, platforms, and media formats, enabling brands to reach their audience and gain traction.
The Intersection Between SEO and Content
With over 4.5 million blogs flooding the digital space each day, getting your content to reach your target audience is a tricky ordeal. In the fragmented and overly crowded digital landscape where great content alone no longer cuts it, getting the right content to the right individuals at the right time may sound impossible. However, since the dawn of modern SEO, the rules that govern organic content distribution have become a bit more transparent.
One of the surefire ways to propel your brand to success through content marketing is by integrating a solid, well-founded SEO strategy tailored to your unique needs. Before getting into the specifics of how these two are closely linked to each other, it’s necessary to get a good grasp of the essence of both content marketing and SEO.
In a nutshell, as aforementioned, content marketing is the process of creating and distributing valuable content to reach and engage with potential customers. On the other hand, SEO is a technique that helps boost traffic and leads through accurately finding and ranking websites in organic search engine results based on their relevance.
Although SEO has gone through many changes in recent years and now offers a wide range of tactics and strategies, the main objective in leveraging SEO continues to be the same: To beat millions of other sites in ranking high and appearing on top of SERPs.
While some might argue that content marketing and SEO are two separate and very different things, in truth, these two should be used complementary to each other. Indeed, there are a few differences that are worth mentioning when looking at these two concepts: scope and focus.
Since content marketing is an umbrella term that involves a wide range of conventional content formats, it is essentially non-technical. As a result, its reach is more extensive and holistic compared to SEO with a more straightforward and technical scope.
Their fundamental focus also differs as SEO centers on meeting the needs of search engines while content marketing focuses on delivering value and meeting the needs of potential customers.
Nevertheless, these distinctions are what make these strategies work better together. Despite its scope being narrow in nature, SEO can be used in a broader scheme when employed alongside content marketing.
Say, you are planning a family dinner and are looking to try a new hip restaurant that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, you’re most likely to search “cheap new restaurants near me” on Google. This is where the technicality of SEO comes in—in order to appear in this particular search, webmasters use relevant keywords like “cheap”, “new”, and “restaurants” to optimize content, attract customers, and increase sales.
In spite of the fact that they are vital to SEO, keywords alone can’t magically boost a brand’s ranking. Here’s where the second distinction comes into play—the main focus of the two concepts, although very different, complement each other. By integrating SEO and content marketing efforts, brands can meet the requirements of the search engines by utilizing relevant keywords and simultaneously deliver value to their audiences through delivering quality content.
In your quest for an affordable hip restaurant—by entering “cheap new restaurants near me” on the search bar, you can expect to find relevant and useful content in the search results. A handful of comprehensive listicles of new, must-try restaurants around your neighbourhood are most likely to appear on the first page of Google. You might not be aware of it, but finding such content is a product of marrying content marketing and SEO.
At the heart of it, there are three key elements in demonstrating the co-dependency of SEO and content marketing:
- SEO calls for content; Content marketing delivers content.
In essence, there won’t be a need for SEO without content as it needs words and substance to drive the strategy. Surely you’ve heard of Bill Gates’ famous quote—”Content is king.” As cliché as it may be, it holds water as SEO can’t truly function as a viable marketing strategy without quality content. Conversely, no matter how stellar and compelling your content is, it can’t drive organic search traffic and reach your target audience without effective SEO.
- SEO merely sets the keyword requirements; Content marketing fulfils them.
A critical component of SEO is the use of keywords to get your content to appear on top of SERPs. By strategically integrating relevant keywords into your content while meeting set quality standards, you can ensure that your brand’s message will reach the right people.
Although SEO and content marketing fit perfectly together, it is important to note that overstuffing your website with unnecessary keywords will do more harm than good. Google has put in place measures to monitor and penalize pages that turn to such spammy tactics. A good practice is to incorporate target keywords as naturally as possible.
- SEO needs linkbacks; Content marketing builds them.
Another integral and valuable part of SEO is backlinks as they signal to search engines that specific content is worth including on the first page of SERPs.
To help authenticate your content, it really helps to encourage other sites to vouch for them—compelling them to link out to your site. Evidently, the key to earning valuable linkbacks and successfully boosting your ranking is to publish original editorial pieces that are worth sharing. Not forgetting the importance of good content promotion and distribution practices
Tips for Writing SEO-Friendly Content
While there is no shortage of the types of content you can publish, it’s no secret that you must first develop a strong content marketing strategy. Sadly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution suited for all brands and businesses—but here are a few things to consider when writing SEO-friendly content, no matter what industry your business operates in:
- Establish your content marketing goals
Because your main objectives will determine the right content formats to focus on, it is vital to establish your content marketing goals before anything else. These are some of the most common goals you can further explore:
- Do you simply want to drive more traffic to your website?
- Do you want to increase sales on your e-commerce store?
- Do you want to establish your brand as a trusted expert or thought leader within your industry?
- Do you want to build valuable content assets to support your SEO strategy?
Your content goals will dictate your strategy. If you’re thinking of establishing your brand as an authoritative source of information, then it’s only logical to focus on attracting new readers through long-form articles, infographics, and white papers that aim to educate interested individuals in an engaging manner. By ranking high and getting the attention of your audience, you are subtly but surely building trust and positively influencing their perception about your brand.
- Define your audience
In today’s customer-centric world, getting to know your target audience is an important aspect of content marketing. Once you’ve got that down, you can move on to creating a customer persona to help you have a clear idea about what to write and exactly how to write it. Through this, you can optimize your content to reach and engage the right people at the right time.
If you are interested in communicating your brand to millennials, you should work on developing short-form content that‘s easily digestible such as infographics, videos, and listicles.
- Have the best answers (in 50 words or less)
While searching, you’ve probably come across snippets of text presented inside an answer box at the very top of the results page, placed even before the first organic search result. These are called featured snippets—concise, factual excerpts of 40 to 50 words, taken from content listings that Google deems to be worth highlighting because they provide quick answers to users’ queries.
This is a powerful way to drive traffic to your website, as content pieces that have earned their spots as featured snippets have received significantly higher CTRs—Hubspot for example saw an impressive increase of 114%.
To optimize your content for Google’s featured snippet portion, conduct keyword research to uncover opportunities, use those keywords strategically in a header, break down your answer in a digestible format like a list or table when applicable, and stay within the suggested word count. By not formatting your content accordingly, your website misses out on valuable visibility that would have increased traffic and sessions to your site.
- Publish original content
Rather than linking to studies from other sites, you can do your own research and draw up new compelling information, data points, and statistics to boost your brand authority and website traffic. Nothing beats free marketing—in publishing original and informative content, others will then link and cite you as their source. As a matter of fact, according to Search Engine Journal, 63% reported an increase in the total number of social shares while 74% claims to have seen a spike in their website traffic due to original research.
As original content opens up a lot of opportunities, maximize it by creating customer-focused content that gives genuine value to your target audience. If your business offers skincare products, you can choose to focus on delivering content that will help consumers in their journey towards achieving healthier, glowing skin. Aside from product-centric blogs and instructional listicles, you can also work on sharing your expertise through how-to videos and interview podcasts featuring beauty experts.
- Create long, in-depth editorial pieces
In addition to publishing original content, long in-depth editorial pieces can also help in increasing your ranking in organic results as search engines such as Google tend to prioritize long-form articles. By going into the details and exploring the different facets of a particular topic, long-form content is proven to get the attention of readers, establish brand awareness, and build trust.
Aim to write in-depth posts with around 2,000 words. It may sound daunting, but if you stick to discussing a certain subject you’re abreast of, it won’t be as laborious. You may work on topics related to one of your company’s core competencies or a niche-centric guide you know will be helpful to your audience.
- Measure success through establishing KPIs
Like everything else, monitoring, measuring, and analysing key performance indicators (KPIs) are important steps in evaluating your SEO efforts. Consider SEO metrics such as engagement, page views, likes, shares, and conversion rates to help you in assessing which strategies are working and which aren’t—so you can adjust your SEO copywriting strategies accordingly and improve results.
- Move beyond mere keyword matching
For sure you’ve heard of terms like exact match and broad match, but have you heard of Google’s neural matching algorithm? According to Google’s Danny Sullivan, this relatively new AI method is basically the search engine’s way of improving how they “connect words to concepts”. Google developed this algorithm to better decipher the meaning behind vague search strings, since according to Sullivan, “How people search is often different from information that people write solutions about.”
How does this affect content creation? The fact that Google now understands concepts is another reason why marketers should move beyond stuffing articles with keywords. It also does not mean that synonyms should be excessively peppered through your content in an attempt to increase your ranking. Instead, understand the user intent behind their search queries and form valuable content pieces around them.
- Write for humans, not for bots
With SEO’s many rules and technicalities, like headers, meta descriptions, and keyword density, writers often forget an important aspect of content creation: readability. How easily your content reads isn’t directly measured, but it does impact engagement metrics like dwell time and bounce rates.
In turn, these metrics help Google determine how useful your content is. Clicks on articles that are complex and disorganized are most likely to result in users immediately leaving the page (bounce). They’ll instead look for a different search result, signalling low relevance to the query. On the other hand, if users tend to stay on your page for a while without returning back to the search, that’s a solid indicator that your content fulfilled the user’s search requirements.
Quality content is king
According to a statement by Andrey Lipattsev, a search quality senior strategist at Google, high-quality content remains to be among the top three ranking signals in Google’s search algorithm. For this, more and more people should choose to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to publishing content.
Indeed, creating brilliant content can help improve ranking, drive traffic to your website, and boost conversions. However, don’t let great content go to waste—you must not overlook the influence of content distribution tactics in a sound overall content marketing strategy. On that note, it is vital to remember that SEO and content marketing are concepts that work best when used complementary to each other to achieve the full potential of both marketing techniques.
If you need a bit more guidance before you can confidently call yourself an SEO wizard or want to simply leave the entire process up to the experts, inquire about SEO.uk’s content-focused and holistic SEO solutions that can be tailored according to your unique needs.