The Powerful Relationship Between Content Marketing and SEO

Great content marketing will differentiate you from your competitor, whilst optimised SEO will ensure that it is delivered to your desired audience. So why do many businesses still see such disconnect between the two? Companies shouldn’t be questioning whether to invest more in content marketing or SEO, but rather focusing on how they can merge the two strategies for a more unified and beneficial approach.

Whilst yes, there are critical differences between the two, thinking about them as mutually exclusive disciplines misses the mark. Why? Because one can’t function without the other. Great content has a high risk of becoming redundant if it can’t be found and search results that aren’t optimised to deliver content relevant to the user’s search query, will come across as spam.

With content marketing at the fore of industry trends chatter, many businesses have forgone the benefits of a joint relationship between the two at the expense of SEO, missing out on huge opportunities. Here, we explore how you can successfully bridge the gap between the two disciplines.

‘Content is King’ – an SEO Truism

Content is a vital component when it comes to search engine optimisation. Search engines implement software known as ‘spiders’, to crawl through your website’s pages. They collect as much information as possible about it – URLs, page references and text for example. This may conjure an image that bares resemblance to a Halloween nightmare that you would never want to happen, but in reality, the more this process takes place the better.

Essentially, SEO would be obsolete if content marketing didn’t exist

Each time Google crawls your site, a cached version is stored, this content is then indexed accordingly and your page rank is determined – which indicates the performance of your website. With this in mind, it can take a while before any new content is seen by Google, so your website needs to be crawled, cached and indexed all over again as quickly as possible. Luckily the more changes you make, the sooner the spiders will return – meaning that the most basic yet effective change you can make is to regularly add high-quality, informational content.

With SEO, there’s a standard level of achievement that can be reached across the board and there’s only so much that can be improved before each result is the same. For example, a ‘404 error’ is a ‘404 error’ whatever website you’re on – it cannot drive better results for one site over another. Content, however, should be completely unique to your site. It is created and spread to attract traffic and should communicate the correct signals to search engines. If Google sees your site as a useful source, it may well serve your content when delivering the best results for a user’s search query. Essentially, a search engine needs a number of elements to do its job and content can play a monumental role in providing them.

Essentially, SEO would be obsolete if content marketing didn’t exist. Search begins with a user typing a word, so every campaign needs keywords, tags, articles and content substance of some kind. This isn’t to say that you can create thousands of pages laden with text and expect your conversions to increase. It’s here that the technicalities of effective SEO come to the fore.

Create Content Based on Keyword Data and Backlink It

We’ve already explained why search engines love copy, but that leaves the imminent how, what and where questions to be answered. Quite rightly so, Google has the reputation of being the internet’s number one search engine, owed to its ability to answer questions faster and more accurately than its counterparts. In a bid to further understand the purpose of your page, Google’s regular algorithmic updates centre on being content and user focused. The more relevant your site content is to a search query, the more likely it is to be served in the SERPs.

One way to ensure that you publish content that your audience will find valuable, is to include keywords in your site copy that are commonly associated with those that your target market would use when searching for your product. There are an abundance of online tools that can help you to determine which keywords are core drivers of traffic, how often they’re being used and where those words are likely to be positioned in the SERPs. Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a good starting point.

Few things are more indicative of a valuable website than links from other quality sites

Whilst keywords remain a core component of SEO, there’s been a shift away from the ‘keyword stuffing’ strategy that many stuck to in the past, thanks to Google’s Panda update in 2011. The rise in semantic search has resulted in search queries being deciphered at a more sophisticated level, focusing more so on the user’s intent behind the query. This means that in order to improve current rankings, instead of using broad terms that could relate to any brand in any industry, webmasters should focus on specific long-tail keywords.

Few things are more indicative of a valuable website than links from other quality sites. These consistently play a major factor in SEO success and what offers better click bait opportunities than great content – specifically, content that is useful and authoritative enough to invite link backs. Google’s opinion on quality backlinks serves to highlight their importance In general, a link from a site is regarded as a vote for the quality of your site.”

SEO Delivers Technical Optimisation

It’s easy to view SEO as just a number, but in reality it’s so much more. It’s thinking beyond a keyword and understanding that it plays as much a role in how users engage with a site as it does rankings. Yes, the technical optimisation of robots.txt, utilization of proper metadata and the construction of strategic sitemaps all fall under SEO’s job description, but these are all performed with the end goal being to get your content seen by the user.

From a user experience (UX) perspective it’s easy to see how the technical aspects of SEO are in favour of your audience. But where does content fit into the equation? The answer is that it’s the reason there’s an equation in the first place. Why do you need a sitemap on your website? To make it as easy as possible for people to access your content. Why do you utilize proper keywords, tags and meta data? So your content is as relevant as can be for your users, indexing higher and thus ranking better in the SERPs.

In short, everything goes full circle back to content. Google and other major search engines identify that you are creating relevant, engaging and quality content, because these are the pages that readers acknowledge – whether it’s through social shares, return visits or visitor duration.

As the – admittedly rather morbid – saying goes ‘the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google’s search results’. And when you put your content into the mix, this is a huge concern. Funnelling the technical capabilities of SEO into your content marketing is the only way to guarantee that it will be seen, and investing in one without the other will significantly limit your online exposure. Take advantage of the powerful marriage between the two disciplines to truly leverage both strategies for stable and long-term success.

Mark Warman - Founder & Digital Consultant Administrator

With a background in design, technology and user experience, I help businesses adapt. Adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their digital audiences.