Content Marketing and SEO: What You Need to Know
This is part of our guide to content marketing fundamentals, which is designed to help you understand the most important building blocks of any great content marketing strategy. View all chapters in this guide.
Picture this: You’ve spent countless hours researching and writing a compelling blog post. It’s been met with overwhelming praise from your immediate peers and supervisors. You publish the blog post, and it goes live, but you see little to no traction from it. Weeks and months pass, and all you have to show for your hard work is a beautifully written blog post with no significant website traffic or conversions.
So what good is creating a beautifully written piece of content if no one can see it? Well, to be perfectly blunt — there isn’t any. Great content is meant to be seen, and oftentimes, search engines are the ultimate judges in terms of what content is and isn’t seen online. Because of that, brilliant writing skills are simply not enough when it comes to digital content. You need to optimize your content properly to make sure it’s being seen by the right eyes at all times.
This is where the relationship between content marketing and SEO comes into play. Every single successful content marketing strategy is fueled by SEO. While you’ve probably heard these two terms used together (even interchangeably at times), they’re actually complementary pieces of the same puzzle. In this chapter, we’ll explain how content marketing and SEO work together, and we’ll teach you how to use SEO to create an effective content marketing strategy.
How Content Marketing and SEO Work Together
If content marketing is the vehicle, search engine optimization (SEO) is the engine that drives it. The better your engine, the better your vehicle performs. Without an engine, you can’t even start the car.
This idea is at the core of how content marketing and SEO work together. SEO techniques need to be applied to content marketing strategies in order to help those strategies perform better. That said, SEO techniques can’t make content perform better when that content is poorly constructed in the first place. In other words, what good is your powerful engine without a vehicle that can properly support it?
If you think about content marketing and SEO integration in terms of a car and its engine, you’ll be able to recognize the symbiotic relationship between them. Using high-quality backlinks and relevant keywords is crucial for the SEO success of a blog post, but you have to ensure that the blog post is still written well from a technical perspective, with strong sentence structure and good grammar. Massive blocks of text, for example, may show search engines that your blog post isn’t mobile-friendly, which can make your search engine ranking go down as a result.
In that sense, good content refers to more than just the content; it also refers to the marriage of content marketing and SEO. In the mind of a search engine bot mind, your poetic Nobel Prize-worthy metaphor is a nice start, but the search engine wants to see high-quality content for SEO specifically.
The 3 Types of SEO
In order to better understand how content marketing and SEO work together, you also need to know the three types of SEO: on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-site SEO.
- On-page SEO refers to content (blogs, videos, infographics, etc) on your website.
- Technical SEO refers to the non-content elements of your website.
- Off-site SEO refers to your website’s relationship with other websites, generally through backlinks.
Each of these SEO types require distinct techniques to make them work. For example, on-page SEO might require keyword research and optimization, while technical SEO might require improving things like site speed and mobile-friendliness. With that in mind, all three types of SEO need to be taken into consideration so that your content can rank higher.
Benefits of Using SEO For Your Content Marketing Strategy
There are a number of benefits you can get through implementing SEO content.
The potential to rank on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs), is one of the most obvious benefits. Providing valuable content that is properly optimized with target keywords and high-quality backlinks will give your business a better chance to move up in search engine rankings on Google. As a small business, for example, this is a great way to reach your target audience more effectively.
With increased search engine visibility, your business can also generate more leads that come directly from your target audience. Since users are looking up a specific keyword or term, your content will show up as an answer to their search query. This is where you need to have different types of content to guide users through different parts of the sales funnel until they’re ready to make a purchase.
Brand awareness is another key benefit that goes hand-in-hand with lead generation. The bigger your share of voice for particular keywords that relate to your business, the better chance a user has of finding your content on search engines. A great tool that can help you do this is Alexa’s Keyword Share of Voice function, which can also show you the sites capturing organic and paid traffic for a particular keyword.
In the example below, you can see the sites that capture the keyword share of voice for the keyword phrase “content marketing.”
How to Create an SEO-Friendly Content Marketing Strategy
Now that you understand the relationship between content marketing and SEO and the rewards you can reap from it, you need to learn how to create a content marketing strategy that can help you climb those SEO rankings.
Identify Your Audience
You need to understand who you’re creating content for before you can start creating it. Building buyer personas can help you make content for specific people who are more likely to become buyers.
Having an intimate knowledge of your audience can help you create customized content that is specific to a potential buyer’s needs. A piece of content at the purchase phase, for example, needs to be written differently than a piece of content at the awareness phase. Each type of content serves different purposes and has to be approached in unique ways as a result.
Conduct Keyword Research
Knowing what keywords your audience searches for is crucial in getting people to your piece of content on SERPs. This is where it’s important to do keyword research to see what keywords your competitors are also ranking for.
Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix is a great way to find that information. You can use this tool to easily identify competitor keywords, keyword gaps, and even keywords that are specifically used to drive buyer intent. The example below shows how social media scheduling tools Buffer and Hootsuite perform for different keywords.
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Create High-Quality Content
With search engines becoming more sophisticated over the years, and with the sheer amount of content online, content quality has become a big ranking factor.
Link-building is an important piece of this process because links to authoritative sources can help increase your website’s own authority through backlinks. Instead of creating a piece of content with a high quantity of random second- or third-party sources, focus on getting high-quality backlinks that come from original sources with information that is up to date.
Another great tool to use that can help you identify content that is already performing well within your industry is Alexa’s Content Exploration tool. By simply plugging in the website of a competitor, you can see all of their top-performing topics and articles, giving your competitive analysis a boost.
Build a Consistent Publishing Schedule
It doesn’t necessarily matter whether you’re publishing once a week or five times a week; just make sure you’re able to stick to that schedule for the long term. A consistent posting schedule is important for user experience, as it sets your website up as a reliable source your readers can depend on for new information on a regular basis.
Adjust Your Content as Needed
With content, you can’t just set it and forget it. You need to constantly examine the content landscape in your industry and adjust accordingly. Find timely topics, make sure all of your information is up to date, and keep your finger on the pulse of what is relevant in your industry at all times.
Refreshing Your Old Content
Another great way to revamp your content marketing efforts with SEO is by doing content refreshes. In a content refresh, you take a previously published piece, update it with new information, and optimize it properly for Google.
The reason for a content refresh can vary. One reason might be that the post never gained significant traffic in the first place. Another might be that traffic on the post dipped or plateaued since publishing. Or maybe the post was never properly SEO-optimized, and now you have the chance.
In any case, the simple addition of some strategically placed keywords and backlinks can give that piece a big ranking lift if it’s already written well and based on relevant subject matter.
Enhance Your Content Marketing and SEO Efforts
If you want content marketing and SEO to work in perfect harmony, you need to have the tools to do it right. Alexa provides comprehensive SEO and content analysis that allows you to prioritize keywords, evaluate backlinks, find SEO competitors, and much more. Try a free 14-day trial today!
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