Search engine optimization and content marketing are most definitely connected. If you’ve ever worked on SEO for your small business or content optimization, you know the two are irreversibly intertwined. But what exactly is their relationship with one another? Where does SEO strategy end and content marketing begin? Do the two serve different purposes, or are they the same? Let’s find out.
What is SEO & content marketing?
First, we’ll define our terms using Google’s dictionary, Oxford Languages.
Search Engine Optimization: “The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” Basically, SEO refers to the strategies you would use to make sure your website ends up at the top of Google’s search results when potential customers search for products and services in your industry. This ultimately increases your website traffic and can help lead to sales.
Content marketing: “ A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.” Content marketing describes all online content that you make to promote your business, in hopes that readers gain interest and make a purchase
As you can see, SEO focuses on the technical side of marketing, whereas content marketing focuses on the customers. So, how do they fit together? Well, in more ways than one.
SEO strategy provides the structure, a content writing strategy provides the creativity
Have you ever taken one of those tests to find out which side of your brain you use more? Whether you tend to favor your right or left brain, you probably learned that one side can’t function without the other even though they serve different functions. SEO and content writing complement each other the same way.
Because SEO is the practice that helps search engines find your content, SEO would have a hard time existing without content marketing. Without content, search engines would have much less to go off of to determine whether your website should be prioritized in searches. SEO may provide the strategy for sorting, categorizing and prioritizing content, but content writing provides, well, the content.
Content writing is ineffective without SEO. Picture this: you write an incredibly helpful, relevant, high-quality, well-researched, truly engaging post for your website that would instantly become a timeless classic, if there were such a category in the genre of website articles. Then, you read it to your book club and delete it. This tragedy is content writing without SEO. You could write the most compelling content of your entire career, but if hardly anyone ever sees it, what was the point? Without SEO ensuring your writing is read, your content might as well not exist.
SEO is all about measurable data, requirements and structure. Content writing provides the data to measure, meets those requirements and breathes creative life into that structure. Without SEO, content will be creative but unfocused, often missing the mark and thereby missing out on interaction. Without content writing, SEO provides measurable goals but absolutely no results. Blending them together creates a powerful synergy that neither of them on their own can replicate.
Search engines & readers are looking for quality content & keywords
One of the ways to blend SEO and content writing is through writing for both search engines and readers. Search engines are getting better and better at recognizing the kind of content that provides value to the readers–meaning you can’t just throw keywords into a document and call it content (not that you ever would!). While this makes it easier so you don’t have to put all your focus on “writing for Google,” you can’t simply write content your customers would like to read, either. Writing on subjects relevant to your customer’s interests will probably lead you to some of the right keywords, but without doing your keyword research, your content won’t be optimized to end up visible to your customers.
However, the right keywords can still fall short if they’re in the wrong places. When you remember to write for both search engines and readers, you’ll understand the importance of keyword placement. Simply peppering in your keywords won’t feel natural to your customers, and search engines are improving their ability to recognize what readers will and won’t read. Instead, put your researched keywords where they most naturally fit in your article for your readers and in the titles and headlines for search engine crawlers.
The technical element supports the user element
Another way SEO strategy and content writing work hand in hand is through the technical side. For example, writing organizational headers and titles gives your reader direction and makes your article easier to read. Headers and title tags also help search engines understand how to categorize your content and display it to readers.
Similarly, you don’t want your customers meeting any “404 Page Not Found” messages when they are trying to find a page on your website, and you certainly don’t want search engines unable to access your content, either! For true content optimization, you need to ensure all facets of your article or post are working properly for both your readers and the search engines that will bring your content to them.
Traffic goes both ways SEO strategy and content marketing only work well together when you understand how they work together and why. Take links, for example. Links are a powerful tool for ensuring your content ranks well with search engines, whether that be your adding links to other pages on your site (like when we link to other blog articles on our website), or other sites linking back to yours. But to properly use this tool you must understand why links boost your traffic.
Start by looking at it from an audience perspective. If your content includes links to informative, valuable content on your site or from other sites, your readers will take that as a good indication that your content is well-researched and respectable. And if your readers find your content about your business cited and linked on another website, they know you are treated as an authoritative source by others in your industry, which is an excellent boost for your business’s reputation. So, search engines use links as an indicator of good content because of the audience’s response to content that contains links.
Because you understand that search engines are following the audience’s reactions, you now know that part of quality content includes links–and not just links to any site, but links to sites that are credible and provide trustworthy information. And you now understand that if you want other sites to link back to yours, you must make quality content worth linking to. SEO may provide you with the knowledge that links boost your website traffic; but understanding why links boost your traffic gives you the wisdom to hone your content writing strategy to create links that boost your website traffic.
Conclusion: Balance SEO strategy and content writing strategy are two sides of the same coin. Working together, they are a powerful marketing tool for your small business. Although they have distinct methods, purposes and audiences, they are each incomplete without the other. Now that you understand better the synergy between content writing and SEO strategy, you can put that balance into practice in your marketing strategy. If you’d like help getting started, contact Hyport Digital today, and we’ll help you make the most of your marketing.