Spoiler alert: BOTH are equally important.
People should realize by now that SEO and content marketing exist within the same ecosystem. While SEO can refer to a number of tasks and processes, content marketing is an integral part of that.
The confusion is a direct result of not understanding the difference between the two terms. But once sorted out, it’s easy to see that one cannot survive without the other. So let’s look at what constitutes as content marketing and the role SEO plays in all of this.
What is content marketing and SEO?
To dispel any misconception people may have about content marketing, let’s define what it is to begin with. So what is content marketing? It’s basically creating valuable content that is relevant to users with a particular interest. The main goal is to drive users to take action.
But to be honest, that definition is an oversimplification. Content can be created with the purpose of helping readers. There are times, however, when it’s done for pure entertainment. There are many types of content you could publish.
You could write content like articles and blogs. But you can also upload videos or create images. Infographics are also popular since they pack useful information and present it in a visually pleasing manner. Recently, people have taken a liking to podcasts since it allows people to consume content on the go. Then you have other mediums like user comments, product reviews, and many more.
What about SEO? How does it fit in all this? SEO stands for search engine optimization. It refers to tactics used to make websites earn traffic from search engines like Google. These tactics include content marketing. SEO, combined with content marketing, makes it easy for search engines to crawl through your entire site.
Combining content marketing and SEO
Marketers have a habit of trying to rank for big keywords. That’s understandable and an important thing to do. But other websites are trying to accomplish the same thing. That’s when it gets really competitive for both organic and paid channels. But ranking for big keywords is not the only way to get traffic.
There are non-commercial search terms you could target to help introduce your brand to potential customers. Presenting your brand as a thought leader and an expert in your field gives you credibility. One can argue that this is just as important as ranking. By continuously providing users with relevant content, you also give search engines more pages to crawl. This improves your overall SEO.
Content marketing efforts often end up on email newsletters and social media. While that, in itself, is not a bad thing, you could use the same content to rank your pages on Google.
Overall, you could choose to look at their relationship this way. SEO tells you what it will need to rank better in search engines. The way you respond is through content marketing. One dictates while the other supplies.
When you need to populate your site with certain keywords, you use SEO to find out which keywords to use. You then use content marketing to satisfy those needs. The same concept applies to link building. Failure to treat both SEO and content marketing as equals will result in failure.
How do you integrate content marketing and SEO? Here are a few tactics to help you get started.
Publish content on sites with high authority
You want to publish original content on websites with high authority. If you’re selling a product for babies, for example, you’d want to search for the best mom bloggers out there. See if they’d want to collaborate on a post. Securing a post featuring your brand on their website will do wonders for your business.
This process is referred to as guest posting. It’s where one writes content for another in exchange for something of value like a link pointing readers to your site. Although, some are satisfied with just being featured knowing that the exposure alone is worth the trouble. For some, it’s all about establishing relationships. It’s really up to you what you want to get out of it.
Build up your own authority
This strategy is not as easy but is just as important. If you’re just starting out, you want to build up your plan for world domination. Building authority would require you to work with SEO experts. If you can’t afford to hire one at this time, at least consider consulting with a professional.
A professional would be able to assess your site and see where improvements have to be made. They would also be able to come up with a plan for you to execute. Some site changes can be too technical for the average person.
Once your site is up and running at an optimal level, you can begin populating it with fresh content. Again, an SEO expert can create a content calendar for you to follow. They can provide you with a set of keywords to target so not a single post is wasted.
Tools you can use
There’s never a shortage of tools you could use to generate content ideas and deliver powerful results. Here are just a few.
Quora is a popular platform for people seeking answers. You can use the most popular questions to fill up your content calendar. Provided the questions are relevant to your business, of course.
Answer the Public
Through Answer the Public, you can search for terms you’re interested in and be presented with related search queries based on Google’s auto-suggest results. It’s a powerful tool you could use to gain insight into what kind of information people are searching for.
Yes, Twitter. It’s a goldmine when it comes to trending topics. By being on Twitter, you can have a feel for what people are talking about at any given time. Use this social media platform to develop content.
Like Twitter, Reddit is a good resource for content ideas. They do, after all, refer to themselves as the front page of the internet.
Buffer is a post scheduling tool for social media. Promoting your content is crucial if you want to build up your reputation. You want to be seen as a site that publishes regularly. Use Buffer to optimize your posting schedule.
Slideshare offers its users a new way of sharing content. Here you create slide deck—which are basically PowerPoint presentations—that can be easily shared.
If you’re using WordPress as your content management system, you would want to install Yoast. It’s a popular plugin for content creators. They use it to add metadata information. It also lets users know if there are any SEO issues and provides solutions so you could fix them. Quite handy, really.
Working with a team can be a pain especially if not all are working from the same location. Trello makes the process bearable. It’s a collaboration tool that allows you to see what everyone is working on. You can use this to monitor each team member’s progress. It’s popular with teams working on site content.
Evernote is a great software for people who tend to forget content ideas. Here you could just write things down for future reference. It can be accessed from your computer or your phone.
Pinterest can be a source of inspiration for your image or infographic posts. But at the same time, it can be a platform for you to share your content with others. The secret board function can serve as a staging area for ideas you don’t want to make public just yet.
If you want to go a more comical route, Meme Generator might be worth checking out. As the name suggests, it’s a tool that helps you create memes from scratch.
Google Keyword Tool
Arguably the most popular tool on this list for content creators. Google Keyword Tool is used to determine which keywords you should use when publishing new pages. It tells you the search volume for keywords you’re trying to rank for.
Site speed is an important factor in Google’s algorithm. Huge image file sizes take a lot of time to load. Resize.it can help you resize those images without the use of expensive photo editing software.
If you need a simple, web-based poll added to your content then Utrak has you covered. Polls make your content even more engaging. Interacting with readers boosts your credibility.
Need a content team? Contently is a platform used by businesses to search for freelance writers. You can also use the service to handle the payment and management.
Monitoring traffic is crucial in the content development process. Google Analytics is probably the most important tool you need to have to do this. The tool can also generate reports, measure conversion rates and more.
Remember when we discussed how important it is to post on high-authority websites? You can use Alexa to determine a site’s ranking. It provides traffic data as well as global rankings for websites.
Hemingway checks your document to find words or sentences that may seem unclear. It’s a way for you to check your content for typos and other errors before publishing.
Successful SEO/content marketing campaigns
There are a number of brands who were able to leverage both SEO and content marketing to find success. Izea has published an article called 25 Top Content Marketing Brands where they feature content marketing standouts as of this writing. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Even tech giants like Cisco are not missing out on creating content. The company used a video series called My Networked Life to showcase how people are using their products to improve their lives. They also have a blog that gives readers information they might find useful.
One of the earliest adopters of content marketing, Virgin Mobile has worked with sites like Buzzfeed to generate content (almost 200, in fact). Their gamble paid off considering it brought nine million engagements. They even went one step further and published news content several times a day.
Now that’s commitment.
Remember the ALS ice bucket challenge? That was started by the ALS Association. They spread the word about their worthy cause by starting a trend that soon took off. They’ve utilized videos to raise awareness. Kudos to the team!
While content marketing and SEO is always good for business, there are cases when you should also consider other strategies. If your business is localized, you may want to look into PPC campaigns. If you’re an electrician that caters to residents of a small city, you’ll benefit more from a targeted campaign.
But if your company is looking to expand, SEO plus content marketing is your best bet. This method garners the most attention which will drive your sales up.
If you’re unsure how to start, talk to other entrepreneurs who have dealt with the same issues you are facing. The nice thing about the SEO and content community is that there are always people who are willing to help. They would be more than happy to offer their two cents on the matter.
Finally, do not be afraid to go all out with your content strategy. Some of the more successful brands started with questionable content strategies but paid off in the end. By exploring, they were able to think outside the box. Surround yourself with creative individuals and do not be quick to dismiss ideas no matter how ridiculous they may appear.
Be wary of people who say content marketing or SEO is more important than the other. You now know better. Prove them wrong.