What’s more important?
SEO or content marketing?
At YEAH! Local our potential clients often pose this question.
But to us, it’s sort of like the question about the chicken and the egg.
A website that ranks well, but has no content is useless (and is doomed to fall in the rankings eventually anyway).
But having the best content in the world often means nothing if it doesn’t show up in a search.
The fact of the matter is:
Search engine optimization and content marketing go hand in hand.
They are both crucial parts of any modern business’s digital marketing blueprint.
If you are a business owner struggling to understand the balance, this post is for you.
The Web X.0
It seems like the Internet marketing world is set on confusing outsiders as much as possible.
Maybe you’ve heard of the Web 2.0. Or maybe the Web 3.0?
Maybe you’ve heard of the “Semantic Web”… or maybe you haven’t.
The point is this:
The Internet has been evolving since its inception.
But those who know how to look can start to see the destination:
A search-centric Net with less junk and greater websites with high-quality content.
That’s because search rules traffic. And Google rules search.
Considering what's at stake for the digital juggernaut, it comes as no surprise that it attempts to smite spam and deceptive tactics every chance it gets.
In the end, this is great for two groups:
1. Legitimate businesses and
2. Their users, fans, and prospects.
A more transparent Internet facilitates authentic connections between brands and people.
As time passes, the emphasis turns to how brands choose to leverage that intimacy.
And as expected, content and SEO are both central to the decision.
A Shift From the Way Things Were
A few short years ago, SEO and content were in completely different places than they are now.
But thanks in large part to Google’s zoo, the gap has closed.
The search giant’s emphasis on high-quality, unique content is responsible for that.
A major part of any search engine’s business model is based on delivering search results people want to see.
Results that answer their queries.
“Thin” and “spammy” content often does the exact opposite.
So it’s only logical that Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all other search engines do everything in their power to keep these low-quality web pages out of their results.
On top of that, new coding languages and the ongoing advances in digital technology have vastly improved Internet standards over roughly the same time frame.
Web content and search engines have improved.
And both will undoubtedly get better in the future.
As that happens, they continue to line up more and more.
How Content and SEO Work Synergistically
The easiest way to look at it is this:
SEO gets traffic to your site.
Then your content gets them to take some action.
That action could simply be to stay on your site. Or it could be to click a link, join your newsletter, buy your product, or a variety of other things.
The point is that your content is designed to get conversions on the traffic supplied by other means. Any other means.
It’s just that search traffic is usually the highest in both quality and quantity.
Businesses that understand the significance of this is at a real advantage:
The earlier you start to create high-quality content and execute sound promotion, the sooner you’ll be able to reap the rewards.
SEO is all about “trust” and “authority”:
Search engines are highly likely to show results from known authorities on a specific topic. Users understand this—whether they realize it or not—and inherently trust websites at the top.
This is a very powerful tool for any business that leverages it properly.
“A Quick Example” Let's say your product or service is called xyz.
Much of the search engine traffic in your industry comes from people looking for information.
Therefore, you decide to target searches like “what is xyz” and “xyz guide”.
Google and the other search engines are smart enough to recognize that results for a “what is xyz” search doesn't need to be as long as results for “the comprehensive guide to xyz”.
But by adding a What Is section to your Comprehensive Guide, you may be able to rank for both types of search on one post.
However, you may also be able to rank a much shorter page for the “what is” vein of keywords.
It really just comes down to whether or not the search engines consider the page (or your site as a whole) to be a leading authority on xyz.[/su_box]
Obviously, determining user intent is a crucial part of deciding which keywords to go after and how to structure your content.
But at the end of the day, it is simply much easier to get powerful, natural backlinks with great content.
Keep in mind though, what qualifies as great content is constantly changing.
Search engines have always prioritized text, images, and news.
But now maps, social results, and all sorts of snippet boxes can show up on the first page for any given search.
In particular, a video is an extremely effective tool for both content marketing and SEO.
We are bound to see a further diversity of content across the Web as time wears on.
As that happens, you can bet on one thing:
The search engines are going to continue to develop right alongside whatever new trends show up.
A video is one example, social media is another.
Social media is, of course, a crucial digital marketing linchpin.
In addition to doing so much else, social media serves as “the glue” between SEO and content marketing.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Google simply realized that 95% percent of all activity on the Internet happens on social media so they might as well factor it into their algorithms.
Other search engines follow suit.
The fact is that social media became the number one spot to promote any sort of content on the Web.
If it’s not talked about on social media, it’s probably not relevant.
For businesses, the significance of integrated SEO, content, and social marketing campaigns is hard to overstate.
Sending consistent signals across different mediums is a crucial way to increase brand trust.
But it’s important to note that there are a few places where SEO and content marketing aren’t going to fit together, no matter what other ingredients you throw in the mix.
A Few Important Distinctions
While related and certainly crucial to each other, content marketing and SEO are without a doubt two different things.
There are various technical aspects of SEO that have nothing to do with content marketing.
And there is some content that will simply never be relevant to searchers.
The easiest way to think of it is this:
SEO is focused on getting exposure while content is focused on branding.
“… Search traffic is usually the highest in both quality and quantity.”
Both help to drive your bottom line, but in different ways.
Much of SEO centers around optimizing web design properties in a way that facilitates indexing of your pages by search engines.
Then there is also the link building and promoting aspect.
On the other hand, content will always be about connecting with your target audience.
Content can be designed to inform, persuade, or entertain, but in the end, it isn’t made for Google bots and the other “spiders” crawling the net.
If you have a dedicated SEO agency or Internet marketing consultant, it’s best to leave most of the technical work to them.
Yet, your input—as the real expert in your industry—is integral to the content creation process.
After all, who knows your niche better than you?
Business owners are often the best content resources.
They just lack the expertise necessary to get ranked and convert traffic into customers.
Marketing is all about one thing:
If your marketing campaigns aren’t delivering an ROI, they’re worthless.
SEO and content marketing are no exceptions.
The issue for many businesses is that they don’t quite understand what it takes to get an ROI from content marketing and SEO.
We know it’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed or downright confused with all the different information out there.
But your goals should be simple:
1. Get ranked on the first page of Google and other search engines for your business’s most valuable keywords.
2. Create content that helps to build both trust and recognition for your brand.
3. Gathers leads and convert them into customers and/or raving fans.
If the focus of your content and SEO remains on these three objectives, you maximize your chance of them yielding your business an ROI.
Now and in the years to come.
As we move deeper and deeper into the Internet of the future, some things will surely fade away.
However, content marketing and SEO are here to stay.
Businesses can take advantage now, or be left behind sooner rather than later.
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We love to keep the conversation around SEO and content marketing flowing so that more and more businesses can be properly educated about what works and doesn’t work in the Internet marketing world.