The Healthy Marriage of SEO and Content Marketing
Updated: Apr 26
In marketing, strategies are often interpreted as detached methods that as a whole will convince your audience into taking the action that you would like them to – whether it’s something as simple as reading a blog post or buying a product or signing up for that newsletter.
I don’t necessarily agree.
All marketing techniques need to be taken into account, and how they relate to each other determines the overall success of your campaign. Ignore the post title for a moment, and take a Google AdWords campaign and your standard press release into account. In this scenario, we’re increasing awareness around a college basketball game – North Carolina vs. Duke (though let’s be honest – how much marketing does a UNC vs. Duke game really need). You’ve got four-five display ads featuring Zion Williamson dunking over the ACC, but perhaps your press release includes a URL to a reliable website with live score updates. Now, if that release gets picked up by say ESPN or Bleacher Report, I’m willing to bet that either A) you’re going to pick up heavy referral traffic from each source and/or B) you’ll receive a decent amount of direct traffic from individuals simply typing in the URL. Now, how does that affect your website traffic? How did your digital advertising fair alongside your PR strategy? How does this affect your budget moving forward? That’s why we need to think of marketing methods as a marriage as opposed to compartmentalized strategies. This is especially true in regards to search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as, “….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.”
What does all that mean? Content marketing serves as your why. It’s your ethos, and Millennials love ethos. Last year, Millennials took over as the dominating generation within the workforce, and the latest reports from the Pew Research Center say they’ll soon overtake Baby Boomers by 2019. So as 71 million Millennials take over the audience, it’s important to take note. Millennials believe in authenticity over traditional advertising, such as TV commercials, radio ads or even basic digital display advertising. Think storytelling via website pages and blogs or content that supplements a well-written customer value proposition.
What does all this mean? SEO serves as your how. It’s the method you use to ensure that your content is showing up at the top of those search engine results pages (SERPs). Anyone can employ a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign to ensure their website stays on the top of a SERP, but not everyone has a sprawling budget while everyone relies on organic traffic for sustainability. It’s also important the further down the marketing funnel your customer travels. B2B marketers that utilize blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not. Factor in that ad blocker usage has risen 30% in the last year, and suddenly there's more to think about than AdWords campaigns.
The good news is it’s a marriage, remember? SEO and content marketing are simply pieces to the magnificent puzzle that is marketing. The key is understanding the how and why of SEO impacting content marketing and vice versa. So let’s look a bit deeper into the overlap.
5 SEO & Content Marketing Optimization Thought Tips
Thought-Tip #1 Define Your What
Before you jump into the rabbit hole that is SEO and/or content marketing, understand what the goals of your campaign are. Are you attempting to direct traffic to one particular page? What products are most important to the success of your company, and are they interesting enough to start writing on today? No matter what, SEO should be taken into account throughout the entire website, but content marketing should be utilized most for important topics or products. Figure out the what, and then worry about how and why.
Thought-Tip #2 Pay Attention to the Search Demand Curve
That SERP you’re trying to conquer starts with one thing. A search box. What type of keywords are you using on your site to ensure you’re at the top of the page? General keywords or long-tail keywords? Remember when I said, “The most basic rule of SEO is to write good content…,” this is where it comes into play. Over 70% of searches occur in what is considered the “long tail” of the search demand curve, so when you’re thinking about the content on your website you must think about relevancy, how the searcher is getting there and where you want them to go. Think about where in the sales funnel your searcher is sitting. If they’re just researching the product, focus on keywords that will guide them to informational pages on your site. If they’re already a qualified lead with intent to purchase, then you better guide them towards that buy now page with a compelling CTA.
Thought-Tip #3 Utilize Your PPC Tools
If you’re creating PPC campaigns, then you have even more tools at your disposal, particularly with Google AdWords. The Google AdWords Search Network utilizes keyword-targeting (among several other targeting methods we will talk about in a future post) to serve ads based on specific queries. In order to better analyze the potential of your keywords, Google offers three great tools to better understand what your audience is searching when they engage with your ad.
Under the keywords tab in Google AdWords lies the search terms section. While Google will prioritize the keywords you’ve chosen to serve ads, your ads will be served based on other queries not on your target list that Google determines your ad is relevant to. This section allows marketers to better understand which keywords garnered the most engagement. Perhaps “eating in Raleigh Durham” produced more clicks or conversions that “eating in the Triangle”. If so, think about utilizing Raleigh and Durham more in your title tags, meta description tags and body copy as opposed to the Triangle.
Have you ever wondered how many queries there are for “affordable beach bikes” in Florida? With Google’s Keyword Planner tool, you can get that basic understanding. This can guide you in what types of keywords are searched constantly (at the tip of the search demand curve) and what keywords are perfect long-tail keywords that speak directly to your audience.
This isn’t necessarily a tool much as it’s a tip to keep in mind. Pay attention to your keyword matches. Keyword matches determine how Google suggests a paid advertisement (i.e. “vegetable lasagna” searches for those two words back to back, while vegetable lasagna searches for both those words separately throughout the content). Broad match keywords might attract a wide audience, but not be relevant to your audience, while exact match might attract a few visitors, but those visitors convert. Keep this in mind when developing purposeful content for your website.
Thought-Tip #4 Surround Yourself with Trusting Links
How link heavy is your content? Links aren’t the end all be all when it comes to SEO, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. As mentioned in the last blog, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Google searches via RankBrain is on the rise, but there is only so much data AI can crawl through to determine relevancy. Links are a primary determinant in whether your content is trustworthy or spammy. Links from popular and trustworthy pages, topic-specific sites that fit your target audience, or reliable domains are only going to boost the popularity of your post. If your post includes inbound links from Pew Research Center as opposed to “marketing101gurus.com”, then you’re probably going to see a better return.
Thought-Tip #5 Create Social Currency
Writing content just to write content isn’t necessarily the best strategy, however publishing innovative or original content is typically a great move. People want to know the latest trends, news or facts as quickly as possible. They want social currency.
In his New York Times Bestseller, “Contagious Why Things Catch On,” Jonah Berger defines social currency as, “People [sharing] things that make them look good to others.”
In layman’s terms, a juicy secret or trend typically won’t stay a secret for long. The same notion applies to content. If you’re on the cutting-edge of digital marketing and found an ad platform that surpassed Google, then share it. If your product just might cure world hunger, share it. If your shoe store offers a $1,000 pair of Jordans, share it. Word-of mouth marketing can work in your favor here too. If there’s a limited query for your product under "$1,000 Jordans", you’re killing three birds with one stone – 1) you’re on top of SERPs, 2) you’re gaining popularity via word-of-mouth and direct traffic to your website and 3) you’re the new hit topic to rack up that social currency. You can’t depend on this method forever, but going viral is going viral. It can’t hurt!
Thanks for reading guys! As always, feel free to comment, share or ask questions!