Content marketing and SEO seem to be closely related but have often been placed in different silos. There is an ongoing argument that marketing should be done in one or the other discipline, or that content marking has killed SEO, or that they somehow compete for the same budget.
They should not be seen as competitors but rather as allies with a common goal in mind of driving more leads to sales funnels.
Each stream begins by advocating the use of some kind of content piece, be it a blog post, an infographic or a YouTube video that is helpful and informative that is targeted to a specific audience through search engine keywords. They both advocate the quality of this content as being a key criterion in the success of their efforts and will invest large amounts of resources to ensure that each piece produced is the best it can’t be.
But where are the differences and how does each discipline utilize their different skills for the overall benefit of the brands and companies that they work for? Let’s begin by defining each of the parts of the puzzle.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing looks to create informative, interesting, thought leadership content. It may do this by utilizing a variety of different media like blogs, videos, webinars, podcasts and infographics. In the majority of cases, this content is distributed across the web using a multitude of platforms like:
– Social media sites
– PPC landing pages or ads
Content marketing is looking to connect with potential and current clients across any and, if not all, of those media channels. It generally has a much ‘softer’ sales approach than traditional marketing and seeks to attract and build an audience who values the high quality, topically relevant content that they create.
There is a strategic approach to a real content marketing strategy. Creators will have a plan in mind based around the audience they want to build, the kind of content that would speak to that audience, and how to target them. A shotgun approach of just creating content for content’s sake will leave the brand with a lot of content that is not targeting the clients that they want to win.
Why is it important?
While a softer sales approach than other more direct marketing channels, content marketing nonetheless serving an essential part of your marketing mix. Content marketing:
Drives website visits:
Quality content draws more website visits. Circling all of your content back to your main online communication hub, your website means that sites will receive an influx in visits. The ‘soft’ sell of your content becomes a bit more aggressive when faced with the product and service promotion of your website.
Showcases brand values:
Offers insights to clients about what your company is about, what you stand for, and what your costs are and even advice on how to get the most out of your products.
Establishes your brand as a helpful thought leader:
Before a client has even considered a purchase, they are faced with informative, reliable and accurate content that addresses their areas of interest and a link is created in their mind between your brands content and the perceived expertise you have.
Has to tie in’s with SEO:
Great content increases niche authority and can boost your SEO efforts (we’ll expand on this later).
Increase brand awareness and loyalty:
Nurtures at all stages of the buying cycle – awareness, consideration, purchase and ongoing advocacy.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing a website’s visibility in search engines by understanding how search engines interact with a rank website and then making changes to the structure of the website and its content to ensure it can rank as highly as possible.
SEO finds keywords that your potential new clients (and sometimes current clients!) are searching for when looking for the products and services that your brand provides and positions your website and strategies how to most effectively get your website pages ranking on page 1 of search results – Page 1 being where almost all website traffic comes from.
- There are 4 Pillars of good SEO which will be looked at ongoing throughout the life of an SEO campaign:
Why is it important?
These pillars set the client’s website up for success and not only ensures that a website is able to rank by meeting Google’s quality guidelines but that it does rank by utilizing essential promotional techniques to get traffic and links to the content.
SEO addresses these issues to ensure great user experience for humans and Google. It then goes one step further by promoting the website to earn links and traffic needed to get Page 1 results. And Page 1 is where a website needs to be in order to gain the most amount of foot traffic it can.
How are they related?
To most marketers, SEO and content marketing are distinct and siloed. But really, SEO and content marketing are two sides of the same coin. They are not different in their goals and will meet in the middle to generate an increase in leads for the organizations they work for.
They both have the aim of driving users to a brand’s website; they are both looking to audience build and promote interactions that will lead to new sales and, eventually, ongoing brand advocacy.
SEO is more technical in nature and addresses the website from the ground up – how fast does it load, is metadata present, can it be crawled by search engines and so on. While content marketing has a wider reach and works with the end users – what do they like and dislike, what content are they consuming, what content is missing?
If SEO’s don’t do their work, then content marketers’ efforts will never be discovered by search engines and therefore remain undiscovered by their target audience.
If content marketers don’t create brilliant content, then no matter how easily a search engine can see it, the target audience won’t want to engage with it.
The SEO team may perform the research into the kinds of keywords that the content team should be targeting. Still, then it is up to the content team to take that target keyword and come up with something insightful, useful and (hopefully) linkable. Great content that will get links back from other high-quality websites in a niche are a key driver of high rankings. And high rankings are a key driver of website traffic and leads.
Particularly for blogs or articles, optimizing your content for SEO is a great way to get more traffic to it, so once the content team have done their magic, an SEO lens can be applied to ensure that the content can go even farther.
The disciplines need to work together.
In order to get the most out of both teams, don’t silo each department. Both teams need to work together as they are both striving for the same end goal. While both teams will come at it from different angles, they are both segments of brands marketing efforts and so should support each other.
SEO can begin the process by researching the right keywords for content to target. They will then deliver a strategic brief that outlines what should be delivered and for which reasons. This ensures the content produced follows SEO guidelines so that each piece is created with the goal of being able to rank well in Google.
That high-ranking content is what drives website traffic and makes it easier to rank the next piece, so if content teams are taking the working on the advice SEO’s when developing it then:
- Content will be created with a strategic goal in mind, targeting specific keywords for specific audiences who are actively searching for that kind of content in search.
- Both teams will reach their own departmental goals. SEO will get an increase in rankings and traffic, and content marketers will get engagement.
- The businesses they are working for will be able to increase leads and sales due to the traffic volume increase and the excitement and engagement generated by their digital marketing efforts.
Senior leadership that has oversight on both teams should enable the cross-departmental learning and ways of working that will allow the above to take place. No longer should SEO be seen as different from content marketing. Each team in the organization can lean on and work with each other, so brands that can successfully identify and facilitate this stand to gain economies of scale from their combined efforts.
- Sam Oh YouTube Video Ahrefs.com