Content marketing and SEO are two terms you’ve probably heard of gazillion times before.
Well, yeah, you are in the online marketing business after all, aren’t you?
If you’re a marketing novice or a specialist, you know or should know that content and SEO are viable components in a marketing strategy. They overlap. They work awesomely well together and even need each other to thrive.
Neil Patel said that content and SEO are like PB&J, which is a great reference as we are peanut butter fans over here. You can eat them on their own, and they are super yummy. But together, they make a perfect sandwich. And they are commonly eaten because they mesh so well together.
But much like PB&J, content and SEO are two separate things and in this article, we’ll dive more into their differences.
What is content marketing?
By definition, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action (Content Marketing Institute).
Content marketing is used by the biggest brands to the smallest businesses and one-man shops. It is used by any marketer and advertiser who want to reach their customers and audience with valuable content tailored to their interests and needs to ultimately increase sales and customer loyalty.
Creating great content is primary in every marketing strategy. It is the first element that needs to be thought of if you want to be successful because people expect to receive marketing messages that are relevant to them instead of the ‘salesy’ overload they normally get.
And good content is never to be taken for granted. You need to really know your audience’s pain points and passions to deliver them exactly what they’ll want to get, consciously or unconsciously.
In a nutshell:
- Content educates your audience on your products, offers and business
- Content increases conversions and sales
- Content builds relationships between you and your audience
- Content is king at acquiring new customers and retaining current ones
- Content is king!
What is SEO?
By definition, SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results (Moz).
SEO is the connection between you, the search engine and the searchers.
SEO is all about understanding what people search for, which words they type to search for it, the results they get, and the quality of content they want to consume. This process is referred to as Organic Search, natural search.
And, for searchers to be able to find your content organically, search engines like Google and Bing need to be able to find, understand and rank your content accordingly.
Search engines take into consideration your keywords query, content optimization, user experience, links, and speed – among other factors – when ranking your content and if your content ranks high, it gets more clicks. Naturally.
And so, you need SEO to refine your content marketing strategy and put you in the front before searchers look elsewhere for answers.
In a nutshell:
- SEO contributes to your content visibility on search engines
- SEO builds trust and credibility among people
- SEO boosts user experience (which Google considers as an essential ranking element)
- SEO increases traffic, engagement and conversions
Now that we’ve established definitions, let’s examine the differences.
The differences between SEO and content marketing
To best explain it, think of SEO and content as a couple in couples therapy, just like in this great video by Conductor:
Just like this couple, SEO and content marketers have their disagreements, but at the end of the day, these two can’t live without each other.
So, if content marketing is the woman in this relationship, it is usually broader and more creative in how it presents itself on different mediums, whether it is a blog post, a video, an infographic, a product review, or a podcast. Content marketers are storytellers, entertainers, and they are all about reaching the right people.
SEO is the technical, narrower, and focused partner. SEO provides a straight answer to a question and will improve the visibility of great content by making it load faster, using the right keywords, crafting user-friendly design and experience to compete well on search results. It is all about rank and competition.
How do SEO and content successfully overlap?
The truth of the matter is that SEO needs content to exist. And it needs a lot of content in order to grow. Content needs to fulfill SEO demands if it wants to grow. As said, one relies on the other for success, and vice versa.
Search engines like Google analyze your page content and links to determine its relevancy and authority. Once you have an SEO strategy and know how to implement the right keywords and phrases in your content at the right amount, your page is likely to rank higher on search results. And again, if you’re creating content solely for your audience without considering SEO, Google will have difficulty identifying the relevance and authority of your page which will damage your ranking as a result.
To take full advantage of your inbound marketing efforts, SEO and content should go hand in hand. Like two sides of the same coin.
The following practices will help you significantly improve your SEO ranking.
1. High-quality backlinks.
High-quality backlinks are one of the most important elements in an effective SEO strategy. If you focus on creating relationships with high-authority websites and linking back to their sites, rest assured you’re building reliable, trustworthy and foolproof links that will get the right attention from search engines. Another strategy is to create guest posts on high-authority websites with a link back to your site and a bio to improve your domain authority and ranking.
According to a Backlinko-Buzzsumo analysis of 912 million blog posts, 94% have zero backlinks. Running the analysis again only this time excluding pages with zero backlinks, they discovered that pages with the highest number of total backlinks tended to rank best in Google.
But make no mistake. Getting backlinks from high-authority websites like Forbes, Medium, or the NYTimes, takes a lot longer because of their value and relevancy to your target audience. That is why many affiliates consider it easier to focus on quantity link building on lower authority sites than on high authority sites. This latter demands much more commitment and time spent. As always, there are practices to achieve this and generate multi-level backlinks to boost authority and increase SERPs which you can read about right here.
Keywords are crucial for every SEO strategy as they define what your content is about in the first place. Keywords are the essence of your site copy, images and videos and for visitors to find your site easily on Google, your keywords need to be relevant to what they are searching for and appear all throughout your pages.
Keywords are important because they are the connector between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to fill their need. If your goal is to drive organic traffic from search engine page results, the keywords you choose to include in your content (among other factors) will determine the traffic you get.
A great practice to optimize your SEO efforts is to create keyword grouping and insert them in your title tags, meta descriptions and URLs so that people will be able to find your site easily.
No matter what products you are promoting, your keywords process should always start by finding the strongest relating keywords to start your campaign with and branch out from there into smaller more specific sub-groups. You can use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, ahrefs Keyword Generator, Moz Keyword Explorer, SimilarWeb, or Answer the Public to discover what people are asking about.
3. Site and page structure
By making your site more accessible to visitors you can improve your SEO immensely. It all depends on how you organize your website’s content and how it is presented to the visitor.
- Clear navigation including a homepage, menus, pages, and posts.
- Breadcrumbs trails will make your site visibility even more clearer by adding clickable links usually visible at the top of the page or the post.
- Taxonomies, categories, tags, and sitemaps can help Google to better index your URL and as a result, people can find it more easily.
A well-organized site structure will help declutter your content for search engines and visitors to find you quickly on search results. If you’re flashing out blog posts every day without neatly structuring your content, or cleaning up outdated content, you’re making it very hard for Google to rank your site.
Neatly structured pages are also crucial for your SEO and page authority. The use of headlines, clickable table of content, and using keywords in subheadlines are all recommended for enhancing web accessibility and enabling readers to navigate a page more easily.
4. Produce valuable content frequently.
Another factor that reshapes your SEO is how often visitors visit your site and their dwell time – the time passing from the moment they click on your site and return back to the search results.
Give people a reason to stay on your site longer by providing them interesting, fresh and exciting content consistently. If you keep producing high-quality articles, blog posts, tutorials, guides, or otherwise newsworthy information habitually, you will not only encourage visitors to ‘dwell’ longer on your site, but also increase the chances of them bookmarking your site which will also help your SEO ranking.
5. Add videos, visuals and podcasts.
Focusing on high-quality content isn’t limited to just written words. Broaden your content horizons to other forms like videos, slideshows, podcasts, and audio.
Did you know that videos are in fact way more engaging than any other type of content?
They combine two things that trigger our attention most: noise and movement. And we are triggered to react better to visual content much better than a page loaded with words.
Videos also make great storytellers as they are easier to understand and digest. Not everyone relates to reading, but almost everyone can relate to videos, and that is why 87% of online marketers embrace video content.
Videos keep visitors on your site longer because they have a length. So people spend at least several minutes on your site watching a video, which can definitely help boost your SEO ranking.
6. Add video transcriptions.
Adding text to your videos makes it more accessible for deaf users. While videos remain the strangest type of content, Google and other search engines find textual content to be as important. Adding transcripts to your videos improve your page ranking with relevant keywords that can target a wider scope of search queries.
Plus, if you focus on videos solely without transcribing them, you’re missing out on the chance to build relevant links by integrating references to different parts of the video. Maximize your video’s potential and provide your audience with a better idea of what you’re trying to say by expanding to relevant links across your transcript and beyond.
Quick tip! Don’t forget to improve your page loading speed.
Think about it for a second. If you are visiting a website and the website takes about 3 minutes to load, would you patiently wait or abandon that page without a second thought?
That is why your page loading speed is super important for visitors as well as Google.
Website abandonment can hurt your page ranking and SEO because if visitors won’t engage with your site due to slow speed, Google’s algorithm will recognize your site as unvalued and determine your ranking accordingly. Ouch.
So, the loading speed of your website and pages is important. How important?
You get the picture. If you want to test your page speed and improve it accordingly, you can use tools like Pingdom or Fast.com which are available for free.