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Content marketing is a broad term that incorporates a variety of elements including SEO. Content marketing can never really “be” SEO because they are different things, but each is reliant on the other for success in SERP.
In this blog, we explore each separately and then discuss why it’s most important to understand how and why they overlap to create a highly efficient digital marketing strategy.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and its close cousin Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are both descriptors for a complex set of tasks which involve keeping websites and other types of content at the top of the ranking in search engines. Being really well versed in SEO means that you probably have quite a technical background, and it's why many content marketers may not be deeply experienced in SEO and vice versa.
There are plenty of tools you can use to help you explore where SEO and content marketing overlap. If you’re a blogger familiar with WordPress, for instance, you can explore a plugin called Yoast which optimizes your posts to be SEO friendly. You will also want to check out tools like Google AdWords to help you learn more about keywords and planning, as well as SEM Rush to help you get your content optimized.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is quite a broad term that incorporates a whole slew of different objectives, activities and interactions. It’s not just about the text on your website or blog. Rather, it can include a range of multimedia sources.
Some examples of different types of content you can use as part of your marketing include:
- Case Studies
Content tends to sit at the awareness stage of the sales funnel and is about engagement and relationship building. To this end, it’s likely to be more informative and engaging, rather than specifically sales-oriented.
Social Media Counts
You'll want to ensure you develop titles, descriptions and meta descriptions as well as keyword clusters strategically to get more out of SEO, no matter what format of content you are working with.
Your content is always connected to your social media analytics, and your SEO is tied to content, which means that your SEO is also tied to social media. To that end, you need to ensure that your social media is a part of both your content marketing and SEO strategy.
This is all about having a conversation with your audience. You can learn a ton about them from social media and develop discussions that can be used to frame your content and SEO strategy. These can be incorporated into your keyword strategy as well as inform future social directions and content production.
SEO dos and don’ts
One of the reasons that having a solid understanding of SEO can be tricky is that search engine guidelines are constantly changing. It’s a good idea to review Google’s guidelines to understand what to do and what not to do to rank well.
Traditionally (and still, to some extent) the SEO “game” was to try to use underhanded and sometimes even unethical techniques to try to outsmart search engines and get your website to rank. This is called “Black Hat SEO” and fortunately search engines are doing more and more to combat and punish businesses who try to cheat the system, such as keyword stuffing and “cloaking” which is basically hiding text from search engines.
But sometimes something as simple as an accidentally duplicated text on your website or a slowly loading page can cause your ranking to drop. To this end, you should either ensure that you have an SEO expert on your team (if you’re not one) or at least get an expert in to do an SEO audit every few months.
Here are some examples of things you can do to make sure your SEO is on track:
- Use high quality content with the right number of keywords
- Use videos with keyword-rich descriptions and tags
- Have a quick, visually appealing, mobile-friendly website
Your Content Isn’t Just Words
Here’s where content management and SEO overlap – basically, search engines see it all as data, so in order to understand what the search engines are doing, you have to learn how to see it as data as well.
SEO experts are experts precisely because they are really good at this, but if you aren’t super technically oriented, you can still get a solid understanding of what SEO is about and how to create optimized content.
That being said, quality is still important and perhaps even more so today than a few years ago. This is because search engines are placing more of an emphasis on quality content than ever before.
Let Your Content be Guided by Analytics
The important thing to bear in mind when you’re looking at content and SEO is that you have to allow the data to lead your strategy, not the other way around. What we mean here is that it’s better to create new content based on previous metrics and analytics, rather than developing any old content and posting it hoping that it “works.”
The majority of content floating around out there actually doesn’t get much attention. TIME claims that more than half of users spend less than 15 seconds on a given webpage. And according to Jakob Neilson, 80% of readers are actually looking at only the content that they can see without scrolling. This means that your title, description and introductory paragraphs will be key to both user interaction and search engines.
Because there is so much information out there, it’s crucial that your SEO strategy is aligned clearly with your content strategy to ensure the best value and visibility across multiple channels. In addition, you will need to be continually monitoring traffic and key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to ensure success.
Understand Your Audience
When it comes to pleasing your audience, analytics aren’t the only thing to bear in mind: you need to know what’s going on with your customers, how they are thinking, what they love, what they need. To this end, you will have to conduct market research and develop a buyer persona to help you better segment and target your audience.
When you understand more about your audience, you can use that to create engaging content across multiple channels. The idea is that you’ll want to be continually improving not only your strategy but also assessing what tools and other special techniques are working well in the context of your industry and business.
Of course, conversion is key, but what else are you going to take a look at? At the content end, it’s really engagement. How are you attracting cold traffic? Where is your warm traffic going? Are your lead nurturing activities effective? All of these questions pertain to the point at which your audience and search engines will be observing, interacting and effectively judging the quality of your content and products.
Effective keyword usage really is one of the main things you need to understand when you are looking at the links between your content and your SEO value. When you create high quality, valuable content, you not only are offering something better to your audience, you’re also improving your chances of being ranked higher in search engines.
One thing that you don’t want to do is “stuff” your content with keywords just so that it has SEO traction. If Google finds illegible content of no value (but full of keywords) they’re likely to punish your website and you’ll move down the ranking. You also want to stay away from irrelevant keywords as they can seriously backfire when it comes to SEO ranking.
The more effective way to get a solid SEO standing is to understand an appropriate keyword density and then strategically placing the words throughout your article and other pieces of content. You need to still be creating quality content that’s readable and legitimate in order to ensure that your rankings stay solid.
Use Content Marketing Tools
You can find free content marketing templates all over the internet. CoSchedule offers a range of awesome tools to help you stay organized, including marketing calendars, marketing projects, and even tools to help you integrate various channels and other tools together. They also offer social media templates to help you manage and schedule your social across various channels.
Strike a Balance Between Strategy and Quality
The truth is that even the best content marketers out there will probably have trouble staying on top of SEO as well as content composition, social sharing and all of the other important elements of a great content marketing strategy.
So, it’s important to understand clearly exactly the areas that they overlap to contribute the strongest in terms of leads and sales in the context of your particular company.