Some marketers often make the mistake of failing to integrate attempts at content marketing with their search engine optimisation. With search engine algorithms favouring quality copy that encourages backlinking, it’s never been more obvious why search engine optimisation and content marketing are seen as a perfect match for one another.
The task of marrying two digital promotion disciplines is not nearly as difficult as it may sound. In truth, using search engine optimisation within content marketing is a seamless process. Good copy begets good SEO and once a marketer understands this they have taken the first step in creating a highly effective strategy.
It’s for these reasons that the most successful digital promotion campaigns have demonstrated a profound knowledge of how each of these systems works and never makes the mistake of using one to the exclusion of the other.
Differences between SEO and Content Marketing
While both disciplines complement each other very well, there are a number of key differences to distinguish them from one another. This is useful to avoid confusion as some strategies may appear similar to each other.
Search engine optimisation does not only mean the optimisation of on page information to help websites rank highly. It includes a wide array of technical elements and behind the scenes work to supplement the actual information accessed by users. In this respect SEO is far more technical than content marketing.
Content marketing is definitely more advertising focused and essentially attempts to “sell without selling”. On its own its development is not so much focused on distributing itself as it is conveying a message to the right audience.
Understanding these fundamental differences helps in deciding on how to use each discipline with one another.
So what are the most effective ways in which content marketing and search engine optimisation are combined? The following will explain the best methods used by today’s online marketers.
When considering how on page information and search engine optimisation work together, keyword usage is one of the best examples to come to mind. Keyword research informs the type of information that is most searched for by the target audience.
As important as the quality of the on page copy is, it’s crucial that has an appropriate amount of relevant keywords included in it so its gets the proper exposure. This means that on page elements such as headings, descriptions and image tags are including the search terms most used by the target audience.
Articles should avoid the use of technical terminology that the average customer is unlikely to use. Keyword research allows marketers to find out relatable search terms that the target audience is actively using to find the product or service they are looking for.
While the general subject matter of the copy is unlikely to change, specific keywords can influence what question it attempts to answer. Information that answers the most commonly searched queries is more likely to deliver quality leads to a website. However there is a trade-off, as depending on the industry it may be hard to rank highly against larger competitors targeting those same keywords.
When the copy is being written it can then be optimised with the clever use of keywords within the text. Being careful not to over optimise or keyword stuff, there is an appropriate volume of keywords that can be used to boost the search engine relevancy of webpage.
While high quality copy should not be written just as a vehicle for keywords there is a careful way to combine the two so that they complement each other. There are plenty of free and paid online tools that specialise in identifying the popular keywords for a target audience.
Optimising For Quality
The art of search engine optimisation is becoming increasingly tied to the quality of content for the end user rather than on technical relevancy factors. A presence of well targeted keywords in a high amount of copy will count for nothing if the on page copy is not well developed.
Any content marketing strategy will only be successful if optimised for search engines. This means that the copy of articles, landing pages, blogs etc needs to be of high authority and engaging for users.
The copy also needs to be of an adequate length to be successful in both promotional disciplines. While the amount of words is not necessarily indicative of quality it does imply an amount of effort and comprehensiveness that is valued by search algorithms.
Good writers who value quality will be optimising their work inadvertently as they go. Search engines want to reward websites that serve genuinely useful and informative information to the end user.
The long term benefit of this is an organic and sincere online reputation that will continually build mindshare for the business in the target audience. This creates a roll on effect where future promotional information is well positioned to generate high exposure because of the well-established authority of its publishers.
It’s clear that this element of integrating content marketing and SEO is self-fulfilling as long as the copy is well developed and researched. In this respect it can prove to be one of the easiest methods of integration as long as the focus on quality is maintained.
While high quality copy is held in high regard when it comes to search engine optimisation, content marketing is trying to accomplish more than increase search engine ranking. With the copy designed to promote leads, search engine optimisation needs to help distribute it more immediately.
When it comes to distribution, there are several ways in which search engine optimisation tactics serve a dual purpose. While tactics like keyword usage increase distribution through organic search results, there are several other elements to consider.
Social media serves as an ideal platform for distribution to the target audience. A strong social media presence will rank a domain higher in search engines but also build an engaged audience that is receptive to a businesses’ promotion. On page elements like social share buttons and comments sections also serve to help build this social media profile.
Building relationships with bloggers, influencers and opinion leaders in an industry helps to not only get webpages distributed but to build a sincere backlinking profile. The more independent and authoritative media connections are the higher a domain will rank in search engines.
These methods combine the benefits of search engine optimisation with the distribution of valuable information. These systems complement one another since the higher amount of deliberate sharing by users and publications will not only distribute information but make it more visible in organic searches.
This search engine optimisation method is a great way to make a website more favourable to search algorithms while improving the user experience. A clever use of internal links will help build the profile of a website by connecting pieces of copy to one another.
When people read a piece of copy they are sometimes eager to read more. This is a perfect time to serve them internal links that are incorporated into the text with hyperlinks. These users are important to capture because they are proven to be engaging with the copy and are more likely to be converted into leads.
This provides more opportunities to get users engaged while affecting a search engine ranking. Once a marketer understands the value of internal linking it should be easy for them to incorporate it into their content marketing strategy.
Determining the effectiveness of a digital promotion campaign uses SEO in a similar way to how it was prepared. Key metrics like the popularity of search terms and their click through to a webpage will help inform the success of a campaign and what should be done in the future.
Information like social media connections, bounce rates and number/quality of backlinks are all SEO analytics that infer the achievements of the copy itself. These KPI (key performance indicators) are the most useful way to decide if the current strategy is working or not.
Above all else, search engines value the user experience that a website offers. This is not only determined by the quality or accuracy of the information but by the overall workmanship of the page.
Content marketing should be interested in a good user experience as it will help generate leads from users who have found information useful and are ready to make a purchase decision. The most convincing copy ever written will still struggle to be effective if the page is unappealing and hard to navigate through.
A good sitemap means people can find and more easily engage with the copy that’s trying to persuade them. A well-presented layout and use of graphics on the site will keep readers engaged and imply the authority of the business.
The correct use of meta tags and descriptions ensures that users are finding information they were genuinely looking for and helps search engines crawl the site more accurately. This all works to keep users on the webpage and engaging with everything there, meaning they are more likely to make an informed purchase decision.
Search algorithms are constantly indexing new websites and are rewarding those that provide fresh information for the end user. This means copy will perform better if it is incorporating the relevance of its information in regards to current trends in that industry or more broadly.
Content marketing is never a process that really ends. While it may have peaks and dips, ideally a business will want to keep generating quality information to share to potential customers. Therefore a high frequency of posts being generated with also result in better search engine optimisation outcomes.
While fresh information is effective in the here and now, evergreen pages will have a much longer lasting benefit for the online presence of the business. If the copy is broadly relevant and universally applicable, it is much more likely to remain popular on the internet.
Search engine algorithms highly value webpages from authoritative domains with information that is useful for a long time. If a business has served a high performing page that answers all user queries on that subject then it will remain highly ranked for a long time.
This factor of search engine optimisation should help determine how on page information needs to be developed to ensure its ongoing relevancy. Fewer pieces of copy that have a longer lifespan will ultimately be more effective than short bursts of relevancy based on fleeting topics or events.
While there a few ways to guarantee the immortality of a piece of copy, working to make its relevancy last as long as possible provides the greatest benefit to a business’ mindshare and authority.
Search engine optimisation and content marketing are not two interchangeable methods of digital promotion that accomplish the same ends. The use of both these disciplines is not simply a combination of effective techniques for the sake of it.
Search engine optimisation has no inherent informational value to it; by default it is always supplementing a form of information. This is why both disciplines are so closely associated. Search engine optimisation is not used exclusively in content marketing, but all content marketing will use search engine optimisation.
Based on this it’s widely considered that these methods are always going to be mutually beneficial to any business attempting to market itself online. Search engine optimisation is always weaved into and surrounds on page information in order to maximise its effectiveness.
With today’s search engine algorithms being improved to better recognise and reward high quality copy it is often that SEO is achieved inadvertently. However many of the techniques discussed in this article demonstrate how other ranking factors will influence the type of copy that is created and how it is best distributed.
Ultimately SEO and content marketing strategies are best integrated by acknowledging how heavily they depend on one another, then formulating the way forward from this starting point.
Lucas is the Managing Director and the Head of SEO Strategy at SEO Shark. He has over 15 years of experience in achieving SEO results for small and medium businesses as well as multinational and ASX-listed brands. He is also an author of multiple publications about digital marketing.