As digital marketing continues to mature, SEO and Content Marketing have crossed the line from complementary to converged.
They look more anymore alike, and it’s getting harder to imagine one without the other.
SEO helps users discover and understand a brand. Content marketing ensures that the brand information they find is audience relevant, engaging, and aimed at the ultimate goal: conversion.
But just as content marketing alone can’t guarantee website performance or results, SEO can’t guarantee content quality and relevance. It’s when the art of A meets the science of B that digital marketing strategies start to gain real power.
People have been saying for some time that SEO and content marketing need one another. But fusion is finally happening. Most marketers now recognise that SEO and content strategy overlap, or have already merged into a single discipline.
The art of creation
With so much of our professional and personal lives lived online, content matters. People care about it. So marketers need to create content assets that are meaningful, and recognise the stage in the sales cycle a target customer might find themselves in.
Content has to spurr emotion if its going to encourage readers to look more deeply at what a brand has to offer. As we examined in a previous post, emotion is a key factor shaping how people search. But it can’t bridge the divide between your content and their attention.
For that you need SEO.
The science of search
Search engine algorithms grow more sophisticated each year, but they still can’t relate and process information the way humans do. Part of the content marketer’s job has to be making every piece of content understandable by Google (and Bing). Applying the principles of SEO to content creation achieves that, allowing them to decide if your content is a good match for a user’s search query.
Using SEO best practice to structure content avoids technical errors that can confuse webcrawlers, stops the creation of orphan pages, and eliminates content duplication. The alternative is negative impact on site performance: pushing down traffic, conversions and revenue.
When two become one
Creating stories that resonate with an audience is the core of content engagement. Users have to find personal value in the content you offer – on some level they have to feel that its good and relevant to them.
SEO optimisation can’t save content that site visitors don’t find useful or engaging, but it can connect the content to a myriad of brand and long-tail searches that will drive valuable traffic.
As Neil Patel says: ‘SEO makes demands. Content marketing fulfils those demands’.
Combining search engine optimisation and content marketing under one umbrella is the key to producing Intelligent Content: a cornerstone of effective digital marketing strategies.
To create and benefit from Intelligent Content, marketers first need to:
- Define programme KPIs in a way that affects both content development and SEO strategy. Rather than looking at goals specific to SEO (ex. traffic) or content performance (ex. social shares) develop goals that both sides of the equation need to contribute to: for example, conversions, sales, or brand lift.
- Obviously they need to track those KPIs, but they should also also track the metrics that contribute to them (organic search positions, traffic, engagement). Establish tracking codes for every piece of content so you can see clearly how the asset is performing against those metrics. It could well be that a piece of content is good, but not quite good enough in terms of core KPIs like conversions.
- Use these insights to inform future search and content strategy. And be ready make course adjustments. What worked yesterday may not work next month. What you learn from contributing metrics may necessitate reshaping a given content asset and/or the way its being promoted.
Impotent apart, powerful together: SEO and content marketing convergence has arrived. It’s up to marketers to make the most of it.