Content is king – perhaps it never has been much so as it is nowadays.
As Semrush State of Content Marketing 2022 Global Report suggests, 98% of respondents plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2023. Moreover, 73% of marketers noted accomplishing very successful results after allocating more funds to their content marketing.
This trend of businesses leaning toward content caused quite a stir, birthing some rather bold proclamations in past years, such as ”content marketing is replacing SEO” or “SEO is dead.”
However, SEO is far from dead. Website UX, domain authority, loading speed, and other SEO elements remain vital components of Google’s ranking algorithm.
The top three results on the Google search page receive above 50% of all clicks on desktop devices. Moreover, 8 in 10 people ignore sponsored results due to a lack of trust, choosing organic ones instead.
The truth is, there shouldn’t be a face-off between the two.
Content marketing and SEO are intertwined – even the best SEO efforts cannot rank a contentless website, nor can the most amazingly written content rank well without optimization.
Thus, in this article, we take a look at how you can bring your SEO and content marketing activities together and get the most out of your digital marketing efforts.
As its name suggests, content marketing is a type of digital marketing based on content.
Common content forms entail videos, blogs, infographics, social media posts, ebooks, case studies, client testimonials, etc.
Content marketing doesn’t promote a brand explicitly; rather, it aims to stimulate customer interest in a brand’s products or services. It is an essential factor in improving search rankings, brand positioning, and customer conversion.
The foundation of content marketing is creating and publishing unique and quality content on topics interesting and valuable to a business’s target audience and on platforms where that audience spends time.
Search Engine Optimization entails a set of techniques for improving a website’s organic rankings in search results.
It consists of on-page, off-page, and technical activities.
- On-page SEO covers every optimization task performed on the site itself, including internal linking and content, H-tags, meta-tag keyword optimization, etc.
- Off-page SEO includes activities done outside the website, such as backlinks, guest posting, PR, business listings, and social promotion.
- Technical SEO comprises tasks related to the site’s structured data, sitemaps, indexation, and page speed, among others.
All these SEO activities work combined to boost a website’s quality, thus improving its rankings, organic traffic, and, ultimately, conversion.
You’ve probably noticed that content is mentioned in both on-page and off-page site optimization. So, is there any basis for this SEO vs. Content Marketing narrative?
Well, no. SEO and content marketing are essential components of digital marketing endeavors, but they don’t work individually.
An expertly-written content piece won’t find its readers if the website loads slowly or the H-tags make no sense with the target keywords. Likewise, fast loading speed, clean code, and a beautiful, UX-friendly design won’t do much for a site if there’s no content to be optimized for desired keywords.
Content marketing and SEO are inseparable and interwoven – and your digital marketing campaigns should reflect that.
Read on as we outline the best strategies to simultaneously empower your content and SEO activities, and yield the best outcome.
SEO is about plenty of techy, design, and writing stuff. But ultimately, all optimization activities boil down to a single goal – that of ranking a website as high as possible for desired keywords.
So, an online pharmacy may want to rank for keywords such as “online pharmacy”, “best online pharmacy”, or “shop medicine online”.
But the bulk of prospective customers will actually come from different keywords. They will research the ways to reduce a headache, the best vitamin complex to prevent colds, or whether their brittle nails are related to iron deficiency.
This is where keywords enter the content game. Content marketing means the content is ideated and crafted in a way that answers user questions or targets the queries people use when searching for a product/service.
An online pharmacy can write a newborn poop guide, outline the 10 best remedies for a runny nose, and discuss the best and worst foods for lazy bowel syndrome.
A strategic yet natural placement of a target keyword throughout the text boosts rankings and drives the right audience to the website.
A car tire seller wants to rank as high as possible for commercial keywords related to both its main products – summer tires and winter tires. To boost its rankings, the seller will write blog pieces and pay for PR text in relevant magazines.
This greater quantity of article pieces and backlinks targeting specific keywords will help the seller rank higher for those queries.
However, the seller won’t see much effect from these activities if there’s no search for those keywords. Creating content for summer tires in winter may get the website rank at the top – but very few people would be searching for summer tires when they need to buy winter ones.
This is a rather blatant example of how keyword seasonality can affect your SEO. But there are many other, less prominent, instances of the varying relationship between the period of the year and content marketing.
Spikes in search volume can significantly differ depending on the topic – sun allergies and Christmas gift ideas are seasonal, but the Olympics and the World Cup happen only once in four years. Wednesday smashing Netflix’s most-watched records is an occurrence that was trendy for a month or two around the series release, meaning that the era of riding the trend wave with flop-or-bop analyses and which-character-are-you quizzes is long gone.
Keeping keyword seasonality in mind is vital for effective content marketing, and ultimately, SEO.
Writing content pieces for the site’s blog and PR activities, shooting a 15-minute video for YouTube and a 30-second TikTok, or designing an infographic and a carousel Instagram post is overwhelming. However, businesses need not ideate unique content for each platform – they just need to repurpose it.
Any content can easily be repurposed to fit different mediums.
For example, an article discussing top tips when buying a suitcase would make a great YouTube video with visual explanations of each tip. Summarized into a few key points or split into parts, this piece would make a great Reel, Short, or TikTok. Back to the text, add screenshots from your video, and turn the piece into a post for Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
A single piece can go a long way in a content marketing strategy. Are people asking for suitcase-buying tips on Reddit or Quora? If so, answering by sharing the link with the text or video can drive significant traffic to this content piece.
All these activities help the website’s SEO by acquiring valuable backlinks and driving traffic to the website from diverse social platforms. Quality content will attract the right audience, interested to engage with the site’s content, and perhaps – even convert into a customer.
Of course, not all content topics are this repurposable. The focus should be on making the most out of the idea across platforms, but not at the expense of sacrificing quality for quantity.
When you have health issues, you go to a doctor. In case of a leaky pipe, you call a plumber. For the best steak recipe, you open Gordon Ramsey’s cookbook.
Online search isn’t much different. Searchers want people with credibility to tell them the best diet for diabetes or steps on changing a car tire.
The end of 2022 was blessed with yet another Google update, this time in terms of quality rater guidelines.
The well-known E-A-T concept now includes another aspect of assessing content quality. The newly introduced concept includes experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness – of both the website and content contributor.
So, an article like this one, sharing SEO expert advice, needs to be written by an experienced specialist in the industry (and it, of course, is!) and published on an authoritative website to yield the best results.
Implementing authorship and rich snippets on the blog and website can assist in the successful combatting of this Google ranking novelty. Author bios should include education, work experience, publications, clients, and/or any other piece of information relevant to show their expertise in the topic.
It’s not a question of going with content marketing or SEO. The two coexist and function in synergy to maximize a website’s performance online.
Of course, investing more time and money throughout the year in one or the other is completely expected. Some SEO tasks are done once or twice a year, and PR articles give the best results during high demand.
What you mustn’t do is neglect either of the two. Publishing low-quality content pieces or not creating content at all will deter the site’s rankings. Likewise, failing to keep up with the latest SEO is detrimental to a website’s organic position in search results – and not even the best blog piece can help.
SEO and content marketing work united, so make sure your digital strategy reflects that.
Sarah Watson is an economist and content writer currently employed with DigitalStrategyOne. She’s a passionate blogger expressing herself through her creative and informative articles about online marketing strategies.