A shift has taken place in the marketing world. Blog headlines used to battle it out, taking sides over whether SEO or content marketing campaigns produced better results – and which, therefore, was more deserving of your budget.
However lately, more and more marketers are using the terms synonymously.
As Google has continued to refine its search algorithms in recent years, SEO and content marketing strategies have been held more and more accountable to achieve the same end goal: higher-quality, highly-relevant search results.
Before, companies could use a variety of “black hat” SEO tactics like keyword stuffing, link buying or publishing quick, low-quality content to achieve high search rankings. But with these questionable tactics rendered ineffective, businesses now have to focus on earning their website visitors with authentic value.
This stricter path to achieving top-of-page search results has more closely aligned SEO and content marketing tactics; making them a must-have, two-pronged approach to any successful marketing campaign.
Where SEO and content marketing overlap
Before understanding how SEO and content marketing can work together, you have to understand each term on its own.
Both campaign tactics involve driving traffic for your brand. And by merging the two, you maximize your chance of doing just that.
Good content gives SEO high-quality context – serving not only as a qualifying hook for search engines, but ultimately, a draw for web visitors.
In turn, SEO tactics help your content to rank well so it gets found.
With this mutually-beneficial relationship in mind, it’s easy to see how the best content marketing efforts often incorporate SEO elements naturally, and vice versa.
The key lies in the fact that a good piece of content – whether a video, blog, or other post – is created with your target audience in mind first, not search engines.
By writing conversationally to educate a real audience, your post’s context is likely to incorporate keywords and phrases, as well as point to useful links, relevant to your readers without much thought to SEO.
However, because Google looks at the context of a post in order to choose the most relevant results for a given search, those same keywords and links will have the much-needed SEO power to get your post noticed.
How to connect SEO and content marketing best practices
Although you shouldn’t write content for Google first, search engine optimization shouldn’t be an afterthought, either.
Bolstering your organic content marketing efforts with SEO best practices will maximize the search-ability and click-ability of your company’s posts. Read on for three simple, but effective, areas to focus on:
Although Google is too smart for keyword stuffing nowadays, keywords still play a relevant role in getting your content in front of the right users. Choose a relevant primary keyword, as well as two to three related keywords, to incorporate organically into every post.
For best results, marketing guru Neil Patel recommends choosing long-tail keywords, meaning phrases with three words or more. They're more specific and typically less competitive than generic keywords.
A tool like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner can help you identify appropriate words and phrases to include, providing insight into what your target audience is searching for related to your post topic, and how.
But what’s also important – and often overlooked – is the why.
Diving into the searches your consumer base is making before content creation has even begun lends insight into why they’re searching for particular phrases – so you can create posts that cater to those answers.
To do so, look for the implicit questions behind their searches. What pain points are they experiencing? What do they really want or need? How can you help them?
Title, meta description and alt tags
If you’re new to SEO, it’s important to note that keywords are just as important in your post’s title, meta description and image alt tags as the body of your post.
Your post’s title serves as the first impression of what your post is about, for both search engines and potential readers alike. While your meta description – which appears underneath the title in search results – adds additional, enticing context for both.
Additionally, if you have images within your post, include your primary keyword in the alt tags. This will give you an extra SEO boost.
But with all of the above, be sure you don’t overuse your keywords. Incorporating too many will make your post look like spam. This is not only off-putting to searchers, but can get you penalized with Google and hurt your search rankings.
Adding hyperlinks is one of the easiest, and most important, SEO tips to incorporate into your content. But are you adding both internal and external links?
Including internal links within your post – meaning links to other pages within your website – keeps readers engaged within your company’s site, rather than driving them elsewhere. Perhaps you point to another page with more information on a particular topic, or to a contact page for your business.
They also help search engines define the structure and hierarchy of your website as a whole, strengthening its overall search-optimized value.
External links, meanwhile – or links to an external website’s page – are even more important.
Because in addition to giving your readers added valuable insight, the best way to encourage a link to one of your posts in return is to give them.
A backlink from a credible, authoritative site to your own website adds significant SEO value. Think of backlinks as third-party thumbs up that puts you in Google’s good graces.
Achieving marketing campaign success
In today’s marketing environment, aligning your SEO and content marketing efforts is crucial to the success of your marketing campaigns.
These common SEO best tactics will help ensure the high-quality content you’re producing can be easily found in search engine results. That content can then provide value to your readers – who have the potential, ultimately, to become customers.
What’s more, over time, your success will compound. As your content continues to be found, shared and linked to, your search rankings will improve – which will further drive web traffic to your company website. And the circle continues.
From SEO to content creation, Jennasis can help! Click to reach out to our team, and learn how we can help improve your overall marketing strategy – and increase traffic to your website.
Jessica Hanna is a content writer with experience rooted in marketing and journalism. In addition to writing, she loves reading, traveling, witty one-liners and every cheesecake she’s ever met. She lives in the Cleveland area with her husband, Rob, and their spoiled rescue dog, Georgia. Click to follow her on Twitter.