5 July 2017

Why Content Marketing and SEO Go Hand in Hand

 

When approaching any aspect of your inbound marketing strategy, your Buyer Persona’s interests and challenges should determine the content you create – regardless of which stage of the funnel they currently sit. Planning your content marketing should be no different.

Content is King

A phrase that has been floating around since 1996 thanks to Bill Gates, and later reiterated by Google’s then Matt Cutts, is that content is king. This notion that content should take precedence is no stranger to marketers. And it’s long been true that content is a main pillar in an SEO strategy; however, in more recent times, SEO strategies have been more content-driven than ever before.

Content is King

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Want to create a winning content strategy? Download our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing.

What is SEO-Friendly Content?

Content deemed SEO-friendly has either been created based on search behaviour or a search term, or the content has been optimised for an identified keyword during or after content creation. Both result in content optimised to perform better in organic search results for a target keyword or set of keywords.

Content marketing will always benefit from taking SEO into consideration throughout your content generation process. The process of creating SEO-friendly content involves varying initiatives and approaches, however there’s two main ways SEO can and should influence your content workflow:

1. SEO-Fuelled Content Idea Generation

If you’re hurting for content ideas, look no further. Through the process of keyword research, SEO can provide you with a host of content ideas. A keyword-driven, or SEO-led, approach is a strong starting point because your content will be influenced by the search habits of your target audience. Understanding what they search for and how they search for it will shape the way you discuss a topic and will help you build well-optimised content.

The keyword research process will identify which keywords are used most often in search engines by your target audience and will focus your content on a specific element or issue your Buyer Persona struggles with. Here’s the steps in which to execute this method of content creation:

  • Sort the keyword output by search volume and competition
  • Select the terms that are good topics for writing, but also those you feel are performing well in search results and seem attainable
  • Perform Google searches for all potential topics to look at the competitive landscape of content for each search result
  • Insert topics into your content calendar including respective target keywords and search volume for reference when it’s time to create your content

By analysing the way people are searching for topics around your business, you will enable your ability to capture users in search results when they are in need.

2. Content Optimisation for Organic Search

Alternatively, if your content topic was not born from a keyword, you will want to introduce SEO during content creation. In the case of a blog post, you may choose your keyword after you have selected your topic or started writing your content.

At this point, you should ensure that your identified target keyword, and variations of it, appear often enough within your content to help the search engines better understand the terms your content should rank in search results for. Keep in mind that you should utilise keywords naturally within your content and avoid overuse or “keyword stuffing” to prevent search engines from taking adverse actions on your content.

Optimising your content during or after content creation should be considered a required step in your content workflow to ensure your content has a clear keyword target to earn visibility and traffic from organic search results.

Additional Methods & Considerations

Another component of creating SEO-friendly content is to build content that is evergreen. This process involves ensuring that your content is relevant and fresh long after it was created. This often involves revisiting your content on regular intervals, such as annually or biannually, to make updates that keep the content up-to-date to your users and search engines. You may even consider making more significant updates based on industry changes as well as offering new perspectives and solutions to your Buyer Persona’s problems. Consider updating visual assets and even the publish date based on the amount of updates you make.

Creating time-sensitive content, relevant for a particular period of time, e.g. “2017 Content Marketing Tips,” is another way to create SEO-friendly content. While it isn’t relevant indefinitely as is evergreen content, time-sensitive content will help you rank in search engines for a set period of time while that topic is relevant. Both evergreen and time-sensitive content types are necessary for a well-rounded content strategy.

time critical vs evergreen content

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To create content that will boost your SEO performance and simultaneously help your Buyer Persona with their problem, include links to existing content in your new content. Linking to earlier, related content you have written on related topics will help improve your SEO ranking on both published pieces and position you as a knowledgeable source to your Buyer Persona.

This also includes linking to other people’s content, which is doubly advantageous. Firstly, external linking recommends valuable related content to readers, and secondly, helps search engines better understand your content’s relevancy to the topic you are discussing through external linking.

Neither Can Succeed Without the Other

It’s important to point out that for your content marketing and SEO strategies to succeed, they both require the other be executed well. Content with poor SEO will have low visibility in search results and will be difficult to gain reach without the significant aid of other channels. On the flipside, content solely focused on keywords with little content and/or inbound marketing strategy will struggle to persuade readers to engage with your content and your brand.

In short, content marketing and SEO should be seen as a symbiosis rather than two independent strategies. You may want to re-think your approach to content marketing and SEO to make sure both are aligned to each other.

For more tips on making sure your content marketing is getting off to a good start, download our Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing.

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  • Couldn’t agree more Josh! Awesome article. I was wondering, does longer articles perform better in SEO?

  • Josh Lohr

    Super late response Emmerey, sorry about that and thanks for your feedback! I just read an article on your site about LSI keywords, which was super thorough and really valuable. Bookmarked!

    In regards to longer articles performing better in SEO, the short answer is yes, but there’s certainly caveats. serpIQ conducted a study back in 2012 http://blog.serpiq.com/how-important-is-content-length-why-data-driven-seo-trumps-guru-opinions/ that I would say changed the game in content marketing. The study found that long-form content outperformed shorter content in search results, with a sweet spot around 2k words. Buzzsumo came along with another groundbreaking study in 2015 published on Moz https://moz.com/blog/content-shares-and-links-insights-from-analyzing-1-million-articles analysing 1 million articles, which found longer content length strongly correlated with higher social shares.

    Both of these studies amounted to a frenzy of longer form content being produced for every topic imaginable. This worked great for some, however not every topic needs longer form content. Some things can be answered without all the unnecessary detail an wordiness just to get word counts higher, and shorter content can even perform better in earning featured snippets in SERPs. Rand puts it best here https://moz.com/blog/great-content-long-form-content recommending to write to a length that suits the topic best, rather than aiming for a target length.

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