Content marketing and SEO optimization are central to any digital marketing strategy these days. Although most marketers know how the two complements each other, content marketing and SEO are rarely discussed in conjunction. Partly because they are distinct disciplines that do not entirely overlap, but also because they have their differences and most marketers only specialize in either of two.
SEO optimization brings visibility to your brand while putting out great content adds authenticity to your business. Both of these are essential, and combining the two could be the missing piece your business needs to get to the next level. In this post, we’ll take the time to understand what content marketing and SEO optimization entail and discover how to combine the two.
What is a good way to create a digital marketing strategy that combines SEO and content? Read on to find out.
What is content marketing, and how does it help your business?
Paraphrasing from content marketing institute: content marketing is strategic content development, and distribution approach focused on spreading consistent, relevant, and valuable content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.
Notice how content marketing isn’t defined as focusing on specific business goals like improving sales or promoting specific products. While your content marketing strategy can very well be optimized to achieve these goals, most brands often attempt content marketing with a wider, more holistic approach.
A great content strategy can help along multiple business fronts, not just with customer acquisition and retention but also with branding and positioning. This is why content marketing is typically used to improve your brand presence. In fact, some of the major global companies like Hubspot and KISSmetrics are best known for their content marketing.
What is SEO, and how can it transform your business?
SEO refers to search engine optimization, which basically comes down to optimizing your pages (and therefore content) for search engines like google to help them find and rank you better. SEO focuses primarily on making your website more accessible to search engines.
Search engines are the internet’s gatekeepers, and businesses live and die based on where they rank within SERPs. Sure a good advertising agency can get you all the eyeballs you need, but advertisements are expensive and difficult to keep up in the long run. Contrast that with SEO, which, if once set up well, continues to pay dividends in the long run.
How to combine Content and SEO
Now that we know why content and SEO matter, let’s take the time to understand how the two can be brought together.
1. Combine Your Content and SEO Strategy
The first step in combining content marketing and SEO is realizing they aren’t that different at all. In fact, one won’t be wrong to classify them as two sides of the same coin; both are trying to achieve the same goal, i.e., providing value to your customer/audience.
Bringing SEO and content together becomes much more practical on the strategy level. For instance, in a typical digital marketing setup, your content and SEO teams are likely to have their own distinct strategies; the key is to develop both strategies in conjunction. Here are a few steps on how to do just that:
Clarify your goals
What are you looking for with your digital marketing efforts? Would you like to improve sales in the coming quarter? Or would you prefer to build a social media presence and grow an email list? Your content and SEO strategy will depend vastly on your goal, but they need to be designed such that they complement each other.
Knowing your specific goal lays the foundation for an effective digital marketing campaign. You can now tailor your content and SEO strategies to meet your goal best. Depending on where you want to take your business, you’ll be relying slightly heavily on either of the two. But figuring out this balance between the two is essential when developing a combined strategy.
Pick marketing channels that work for you
One of the most critical elements of coming up with a combined marketing strategy is figuring out the right marketing channels for your campaigns. Content marketing is a vast ocean, and knowing what mediums and marketing channels to invest your time into can be a huge advantage. Once you know your marketing goals, you’ll have to single down a handful of marketing channels. Focusing on social media ads can be great for quick lead generation while building long-form content on your site’s blog can be suitable for branding.
Gauge your competition
And finally, before finalizing your strategy, take the time to understand how your competitors use SEO and Content. Conduct in-depth competitor analysis and determine how you can outperform them by harnessing the combined power of content marketing and SEO.
2. Write for Humans, Optimize for Bots (finding a balance)
Now let’s talk about finding the essential balance between content and SEO. Most businesses weigh too heavily on either side while ignoring the other. That’s because most companies lack SEO experts that understand content marketing and Content strategists that lack a grasp on SEO. Nevertheless, here is what you can do to find the essential balance between the two:
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Anyone familiar with SEO basics recognizes the importance of keywords. However, most experts and amateurs often fail to understand how to use keywords in a way that doesn’t harm your search engine ranking. Black hat SEO practices like spamming keywords continue to thrive. Although these can work in the short term, they put your website at much greater risk in the long run.
Make authentic content
Keywords are just one aspect of your site’s user experience. They help search engines deliver appropriate content for respective queries made by the user. But once the user is on your page, your on-page content matters the most.
Creating authentic content that adds value to your users is critical if you wish to have any chance at retaining your audience. Focus on creating content that addresses customer pain points, highlights your product/service as the ideal solution for their problem, and leaves the user satisfied.
Don’t skip on SEO technicals
While most marketers focus on on-page SEO with interlinking, creating great content and keyword strategies, many tend to forget the technical side of SEO. Small and medium businesses lacking dedicated SEO experts often struggle with optimizing their site’s technical elements like ensuring quick load times, mobile-friendly design, and navigation-friendly site design. Technical SEO is as important as on-page optimization, so ensure you don’t miss out on it.
3. Create in-depth content on on-demand topics
Another underappreciated but important aspect is content depth. Usually, long-from content of around 1800-2000 words tends to work best. Any shorter than that, you run out of room to cover topics meaningfully, and anything longer seems an inefficient use of space.
However, creating long and detailed content isn’t necessarily the easiest or the cheapest thing to do. Because in-depth content is hard to produce, businesses need to ensure they invest their time and resources into content that is in demand. Here is how you can do so:
Keyword Research for relevant topics
The best SEO-focused approach to finding trending and in-demand content topics is via keyword research. Leading digital marketing companies use Keyword research tools like Ahref’s keyword explorer and Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest to single down keyword opportunities that are valuable and easy to rank for. These tools consider factors like search volume, backlink competitions, competitor page authority, etc. Reliable keyword research is essential for any business planning to go down the content route.
With content, more is always better
Your typical top 10 results on any SERP average around 2000 words per page. Long-form but engaging content is known for significantly improving page rankings. Meaning that creating more content isn’t simply a content strategy but also a good SEO improvement factor.
Keep content reusability in mind
Having spent time conducting keyword research and written valuable in-depth content, you want to ensure your business gets the most out of its content investment. This is why it is essential to keep content reusability in mind. Content reusability refers to making your content shareable on multiple mediums and in multiple formats.
Conducting a keyword research for evergreen topics can give you ideas for pillar posts. Long-form content written for these can be condensed into social media posts, used to inform PR content, help you build video content, or be repurposed into simpler, shorter blog posts. Reusing your content across multiple channels makes your brand look more consistent and allows for your keyword research to benefit your brand as a whole.
Content and SEO go hand in hand when it comes to building a robust digital marketing strategy. The key is understanding how the two complement each other. The best way companies can leverage the combined power of content and SEO is by building a joint strategy that works for both people and search engines. Effective keyword research for curating authentic long-form content is the way for brands wanting to leverage content and SEO to their fullest. How do you plan to combine SEO and content marketing with growing your business?