Now I’ve got all the clichés out the way, let’s look at some specifics. As the title suggests, in this post I’m going to talk about how two digital strategies – SEO and content marketing – can work together and how to maintain the perfect balance between the nuances of each tactic.
Sound a bit complicated? It doesn’t have to be. If you bring it all back to focusing on what you really care about here – appealing to your target audience and getting some customers. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Defining some stuff
Right, let’s kick off by actually defining what we mean by “SEO” and “content marketing”. I might be teaching you to suck eggs here – but it’s worth setting out some parameters so that we can identify where they cross over.
Search Engine Optimisation (more commonly known as SEO) is the practice of optimising your website for search engines. Or, more specifically, optimising your website so that it will rank better on search engines. This used to be almost entirely about two key things – keywords and backlinks. It was pretty easy to bodge it back then – stuff your page full of a keyword, buy some backlinks so you look you’ve got loads pointing to your site and you were on to a winner. Now that search engines are much smarter and much better at sniffing out poorly executed, spammy content and understanding user intent, it’s become a complex art of managing website technical health, speed, user experience, high quality unique content, relevance, links, citations and more. It’s a discipline which requires both technical and creative skills. Content writing is inextricably linked with SEO, because that’s one of the key ways you find more opportunities to rank, reach your audience and get more traffic.
Content marketing is focused on creating, publishing and distributing content. This can come in many forms – but your usual suspects are blog posts, whitepapers, video, podcasts, case studies. Some even expand this slightly to cover tactics like email and social media (as a means of distributing your content primarily). I’ve just learned via Wikipedia that content marketing can be dated back to as early as 1732, when Benjamin Franklin issued the “Poor Richard’s Almanack” to promote his printing business. So, there you go – if it’s good enough for one of the Founding Fathers, it’s good enough for your business.
Blending SEO and content marketing
It’s my view – and I’d go as far to say most of the marketing world agrees with me – that as SEO leaves the age of the keyword further and further in the distance and moves towards user intent, complex search queries and optimisation for voice search, the core ideals of content marketing and SEO become inextricably linked. Content marketing – as Benjamin Franklin knew all those years ago – is about providing your target audience with useful and relevant information, advice and insight that will genuinely be helpful to them, thus positioning you as a trusted advisor and thought leader, making them more likely to trust and engage with you as a business. SEO is now less and less about scouring keyword reports for a golden opportunity and then pumping a post full of those words – it’s about identifying those opportunities, and understand the context around them. What your audience is interested in, their pain points, how they might ask questions about your service or challenges their having – all starting points for any good content marketing strategy. How easily your audience will find your content from now on is related to how well you understand what they want from you.
Why do both?
You might be thinking – if the boundaries are becoming more blurred, why do I need to do both tactics? Well, as I’ve alluded to – there’s A LOT of crossover, and you’ll want to ensure your content marketing plan takes SEO into consideration, and vice versa. But there’s still a fair bit of SEO that lies outside of what we could class as content marketing – mainly on the technical and user experience side of things. It’s unfortunately not good enough to optimise your copy, titles and meta descriptions, update your blog with optimised posts, and get a few quality inbound links – although this a good start. You’ll want to closely manage your technical health, make sure your site is highly accessible to users and easy to navigate, and consider a whole host of other factors to succeed with SEO.
If you’d like any further advice on how to blend content marketing and SEO to get the most out of your digital marketing – get in touch. Our team has decades of experience providing B2B organisations with SEO-focused content and content-focused SEO as a joined up marketing strategy.