On first glance, content marketing and search engine optimization might seem like opposing forces. Different tactics, competing channels, each jockeying for position and attempting to be the main focus of your budget and strategy.
However, the reality is that SEO and content marketing go together like aioli and sriracha. They aren’t warring forces or two different strains on your overall marketing budget. They are too crucial aspects of the same complete recipe, two elements of your holistic marketing campaign.
First, let’s define the terms: content marketing and SEO
Before we can discuss how content marketing and SEO relate to one another, it’s important to understand what each of these entities is and why they matter.
Search engine optimization is, simply, the tactic and strategy of working to ensure your website or company shows up toward the top of results in Google, Bing, or a different search engine.
Content marketing, meanwhile, is when you use good on-page content to engage audiences and customers, often resulting in links and traffic from major websites and social media. In turn these links from other websites increase leads and improve the SEO of your site.
So, what’s the conflict between content marketing and SEO?
You might already follow where this is going: there is no conflict. Read the two definitions above, again, if you need to. SEO is about getting more people to your website through organic traffic and positioning in the SERPS (search engine result pages). Content marketing is about creating content that inspires people to share and link to.
There is no competition, no conflict, no choice: if you want to be successful, you don’t choose one or the other. You do both.
In order to rank well in search engine results, one of your best options is to create quality content that adheres to your business’s content marketing strategy and campaign.
On that note, let’s briefly consider the key elements of SEO before delving into how search-optimized content should be created to achieve your goals.
The basics of SEO
Search engine optimization ultimately requires four major considerations. These are: on-page content, metadata, technical factors, backlinks.
A good content marketing campaign will not have an impact on your technical factors, i.e. your page speed, URL structure, or optimized images. However, it does require a thoughtful approach to your on-page content and metadata, and good content marketing will result in successful backlinks from other websites.
How to create content for SEO
It’s very rare to see successful content that succeeds in search engines without integrating SEO strategy from the beginning. Articles and pages that succeed in search without an integrated search strategy are exceptions to the rule, rather than proof against it.
Consider some of the following best practices when creating your search-optimized content:
Conduct keyword research
SEO success begins and ends with quality content. While the other aforementioned factors are crucial, you will not succeed without good content.
While this article is not a 101 for keyword research, it’s important to remember that you want to target search terms that: have high volume monthly search volume, speak to your target audience, are achievable by your website, and target users with specific searcher intent.
Many different tools out there will help you identify your keywords. What’s important is not only that you identify these, but that you use them appropriately.
Build content around keywords
First of all, it’s good to keep in mind that some classic tactics of ranking in search are no longer relevant. This is a major aspect of why content marketing is increasingly important: old techniques aren’t cutting it the way they once did.
Don’t bog yourself down with concepts like “keyword density” or “keyword saturation” or other such concepts. These are increasingly irrelevant, particularly as the search engines become more sophisticated and put a higher emphasis on quality content.
This is a boon to content marketing. Spammy articles that say the same phrase or word repeatedly will no longer win. Good content will.
Integrate searcher intent
One of the biggest challenges for a business or website attempting SEO without strategy is that they will end up ranking for the wrong search terms. We mentioned it above, but this is why one concept needs your serious consideration: searcher intent.
Good content that targets relevant keywords is not enough. The keywords have to correlate with what your desired audience is using search engines to learn about.
Routinely create great content
You can create the best possible article or another piece of content, but then you will have exactly that: one really good article. It’s not enough.
You need to regularly, routinely create quality articles that relate to one another and ladder up into one cohesive strategy.
Create a series of interlinked articles
As you create new articles, you need to link them to one another. Connect them. Tell one cohesive story.
For example, if you’ve written an article about The Best Day Trips from Minneapolis, build this into a series of articles where each trip gets its own article. Or, build it into a series of articles where you explore different cities or parks in the Minneapolis and Wisconsin area.
It’s up to you what you want to do with it, of course. Often, the best course of action is to begin with an idea and see what direction the research takes you in, then build upon that.
Use quality images, videos, and infographics
Content is king, but the content is not limited to words on the page.
Create relevant infographics that solve for searcher intent and answer the questions that your website’s visitors are asking. Create videos that engage with them on a deeper level. Enhance your content with relevant images.
Then, remember the importance of metadata. Tag these images and non-word content with alt text that targets your chosen keywords. The only thing not to do is use meta keywords, as those haven’t been a ranking factor in nearly a decade.
Earn positive press and social mentions with your content
Good content will inspire people to do two things: read more of your content and share it with others.
Sharing good content benefits you in more than one way. The obvious is that it brings in good traffic, particularly from social media. However, the backlinks generated by good content will also boost Google’s opinion of your website, which is ultimately what will boost your SEO to the top.
Integrating SEO into content marketing is the only way to succeed
There is no content marketing without SEO. And to succeed at SEO, one of your best approaches is a thoughtful, research-informed content marketing strategy.
Remember that you cannot have one with the other. Don’t fall down a rabbit hole where you have one silo that says “Search Engine Optimization” and another saying “Content Marketing.”
Content marketing and SEO go together like sriracha and aioli. Now, like any good sriracha aioli, you have to inspire people to come back for more.