How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing Effectively
If you’ve been around the marketing block, you may already know that putting content out there won’t draw in new audiences on its own. You also have to ensure that content shows up at the right place and at the right time.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is your best tool in making that magic happen.
When you effectively combine SEO and content marketing, the result is far greater than the sum of its parts. To help you understand how to combine these strategies in an effective content marketing campaign, we’ll first define both SEO and content marketing. Then, we’ll highlight specific techniques you can use to integrate them and help your business grow.
What is SEO, anyway?
Before we can combine SEO and content marketing, we first need to understand our two ingredients. So, let’s define SEO.
Search engine optimization (SEO) encompasses all of the processes and techniques you can use to increase your visibility on search engines.
If you have a question—for example, “how to combine SEO and content marketing effectively”—then your first thought will probably be to Google it. When you type in your query, pages and pages of answers appear almost immediately. For you, the process is pretty straightforward. But a lot goes on behind the scenes to decide what answers appear first.
Google and other search engines have to create order out of the billions of web pages on the internet. To combat this chaos, search engines use a three-step process:1
- Crawl – Picturing digital spiders crawling through the internet? You’re not far from the truth. Search engines first use bots to “crawl” web pages and collect information.
- Index – Search engines then put the information collected during the crawling process into online indexes, much like how librarians organize books.
- Rank – Finally, algorithms use hundreds of factors to analyze the web pages and decide what order they should appear in when you search for something online.
If you have a website, you want it to appear first on search engines so that you can drive more traffic. That’s where SEO comes in. If we gave a full lesson on SEO, we’d be here all day—so for now, know that there are three primary types:2
- On-page SEO – It’s in the name: on-page SEO involves all of the content on your website, from blogs and product copy to title tags and internal links.
- Off-page SEO – Similarly self-explanatory: off-page SEO involves elements that aren’t on your website, like backlinks or social media marketing.
- Technical SEO – Finally, technical SEO involves backend strategies like optimizing your website for mobile devices or decreasing file sizes.
We could opine about SEO forever—but those are the basics you need to know to build a synergistic SEO content marketing strategy.
What about content marketing?
Before we can whisk together our ingredients, we need to define content marketing. Content marketing is the inbound marketing strategy du jour. Traditional marketing uses an outbound strategy (think TV ads, billboards or cold calling), but those strategies aren’t always successful anymore for two major reasons:3
- Return on investment (ROI) – Data suggests that content marketing is less expensive than traditional marketing while also bringing three times as many leads.
- Consumer trends – More and more people now use ad-blocking software, dramatically reducing the number of views on online advertisements. This represents a larger trend in the ways consumers avoid traditional ads.
Rather than consuming traditional ads, one report found that consumers now view at least three pieces of related content during their sales journey. As a result, the popularity of content marketing continues to rise. This inbound strategy organically drives traffic by producing high-quality content that consumers want, such as:3
Your SEO content marketing strategy shares the goal of high-quality content.
3 best practices for combining SEO and content marketing
When done correctly, content marketing and SEO are mutually beneficial—SEO brings more visitors to your content, while your SEO content increases your search rankings. But what must you do to achieve this perfect partnership? There are many strategies you can implement, but to get right to the heart of it, we’ll break it down into three best practices.
#1 Prioritize content quality
You can bake a cake with a few simple ingredients—milk, eggs and sugar—but the quality will certainly differ if you use an expired carton of milk or eggs vs. fresh milk and eggs from a local farm.
SEO and content marketing are the same. Your final output and its success depend on the quality of the inputs you use. This is why high quality content should be at the top of your list when combining SEO and content marketing.
When it’s time for search engines to rank your web pages, content quality is one of the most crucial ranking factors. Put simply, whether it’s a sales page or a blog, better quality content is more likely to rank higher.4
So, what does high quality content look like?
Search engines may not be human, but their algorithms are built with humans in mind. Always remember that the end-point user of your content is a real, live person with a question that needs to be answered.
As a result, search engines like Google design their algorithms to reward content written by real humans and optimized for real readers. Creating your content with this in mind ensures that both your SEO and content marketing strategies are sound.
To that end, your major considerations for quality should include:5
- Readability – We said it before (like a paragraph ago), but we’ll say it again because it is so important: real humans will be reading your SEO content. Designing your content around your target audience is therefore key—and should affect everything from your voice and tone to the length of your sentences.
- Structure – Similarly, how you structure your content is integral to how both humans and search engines respond to and navigate your content. Both look for content structure that is logical and easy to follow. You can quickly improve your structure by effectively utilizing headings and breaking up large blocks of text.6
- Format – As with structure, the right format for your content can define the user experience. Rather than reaching a specific word count, focus on establishing the scope of your topic so that you directly answer the question readers searched for—and do so as quickly as possible. The topic you’re covering and the level of detail required should decide the length of your content.6
Ensuring that all three facets of your content sing can help to ensure your readers stick around—and your SEO rankings do, too.
#2 Weave in keyword strategy
Back in the early aughts, much of keyword strategy involved plastering keywords on a page—as many as could be included—with the hope that more keywords would achieve more search results.
But today, our search engines are smarter. Which means your relevant keyword strategy must be, too.
Building content around keywords that are woven in naturally can help to ensure that your content not only includes those vital words and phrases, but also provides valuable information to the reader. That content should be created both to encourage readers to visit the page and stay there to enjoy the full experience.
Your content quality goes hand in hand with this strategy. But utilizing effective and relevant keyword research tools or partnering with a digital marketing agency can help you to pinpoint which ones can help you produce real growth.
#3 Don’t forget about links
Links are another vital consideration when combining content marketing and SEO. When we talk about links, SEO and content marketing, it’s important to distinguish between several different kinds:
- Jump links link to different sections on the same page. These can make it easier for readers to navigate your content, especially long-form content. They encourage readers to stay on your website as opposed to becoming frustrated and leaving because they can’t find the answer they’re looking for.6
- Internal linking refers to links from one page of your site to another. This is one of many ranking considerations that search engines use, and can help search engines understand the structure of your site. Internal links also help to keep your readers on your website and allow them to find additional relevant content—thereby increasing the value of your page.6
- External linking, or links that send readers to another website, may send readers away from your page—but they’re still useful because they communicate to both readers and search engines that you’re an expert who creates well-researched content.6
- Backlinks, finally, are one of the most vital tools for increasing your search rankings. These are links on another website that lead visitors to your page—and they help to show search engines that your content is valuable, authoritative and trustworthy.6 Creating relevant and high-quality content is one of the most crucial ways to encourage backlinking.
Advantages of combining SEO and content marketing
Now, it’s time to mix SEO and content marketing together—and reap the delicious benefits of this irresistible pairing. With the right strategies in place, you can expect to benefit from two key advantages:
- Increased traffic – Research estimates that a staggering 68% of website traffic is a result of searches.8 The benefits of this traffic are twofold. First, you attract more potential customers to your website. Second, well-written content communicates to your audience that you’re an expert in your industry.4
- Boosted brand awareness – A better SEO strategy can increase your brand awareness and visibility by increasing your ranking on search engine results pages (SERPS). The top five spots have the best click-through rates (CTRs). That means more organic traffic directly to your website.4 It also means that people will begin associating your brand with specific industry keywords and phrases. To capitalize on the benefits of better brand awareness through SEO, it’s essential to produce quality content that will rank well.4
Build a comprehensive marketing strategy with Power Digital
The recipe for SEO and content marketing success may sound straightforward. Sprinkle in a little linking, a dash of keywords, a heaping spoonful of quality content. And voilà—you’ve got yourself a delectable SEO and content marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website and boost your brand’s visibility.
Power Digital works with you to help realize your full potential. We bring together marketing, consulting and data intelligence to help companies across the world grow faster and build brand recognition. Get in touch today to learn how our team can elevate your SEO and content marketing strategies.
- Search Engine Land. What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization? https://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo
- LinkedIn. What are the 3 Types of SEO? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-3-types-seo-harry-sanders/
- Search Engine Land. What is content marketing? Defining marketing’s present and future. https://searchengineland.com/what-is-content-marketing-388970
- Search Engine Land. How SEO and content marketing work together. https://searchengineland.com/seo-content-marketing-388978
- Forbes. How SEO And Content Marketing Work Together To Fuel Your Online Success. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/07/03/how-seo-and-content-marketing-work-together-to-fuel-your-online-success/?sh=225a8e3016bf
- Search Engine Land. 25 tips to optimize your content for people and search engines. https://searchengineland.com/tips-optimize-content-people-search-engines-388271
- Hubspot. 11 Creative (But 100% White Hat!) Ways to Earn Backlinks in 2022. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/backlink-strategies
- MediaPost. Google Crushes Facebook As Commerce Traffic Generator. https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/347378/google-crushes-facebook-as-commerce-traffic-genera.html