You’ve got awesome content that meets the needs of your target audience — but no one can find it online. What’s a marketer to do? The answer, of course, is SEO.
That’s not to say go all in on SEO at the expense of valuable content. The key is balance.
Think of it like a seesaw (You know, like on a playground when your grandma was a kid.) On the one side, you have SEO. If you push too heavily toward SEO, content may not be as relevant to your target audience and may even come off sounding a little robotic. On the flip side, if you pour your energy into content marketing without any regard for SEO, you can spend hours putting out useful information only to find out that pageview numbers are low.
On their own, SEO and content marketing can each attract people to your website. However, the results are amplified (and seesawing is more fun) when you implement an SEO-plus-content marketing strategy.
In this post, we’ll dive into what it takes to successfully implement SEO into your content marketing strategy — and maybe have a little nostalgic playground fun along the way.
Quick Refresh: What Is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of increasing organic traffic from search engines to a website. How do you do that without paying for a higher position on the search engine results page (SERP)? You can boost traffic by improving the quality of your content and incorporating relevant keywords.
Ultimately, this will play to search engine algorithms, which will increase your website’s visibility in search results for certain keywords. The higher you are on the SERP, the more likely users will click through to your website.
What Is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is the process of creating content, like blog posts, ebooks or educational videos, that engages, entertains and/or informs users.
Content marketing focuses on quality, meaning you’re putting together data and information that will be valuable to users. Rather than focusing on making a sale, you are building trust and authority in your brand as an expert in your industry.
How SEO Works in Content Marketing
As it turns out, content marketing needs SEO, and SEO needs content marketing.
SEO helps get more eyes on your content, but there needs to be quality content for users to land on when they click on your website. Otherwise, they’re just going to exit from your website and head for a competitor.
On the other hand, algorithms today are putting more emphasis on EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness). What builds that trust and authority? Content marketing. Through content, your brand builds its expertise, which can then boost SEO. Boosted SEO improves your SERP ranking and gets more eyes on your content. It’s all cyclical — er, seesaw-clical.
Benefits of SEO in Content Marketing
When you start incorporating SEO best practices in your content marketing, you can start to see many measurable benefits. Although neither SEO nor content marketing are directly intended to push sales, they can work together to boost traffic, create stronger connections with users and ultimately increase conversions. Some benefits of applying SEO to your content marketing include:
Increased traffic. The whole point of spending time and money to create high-quality content is for people to see it. After people read your blogs, watch your videos or listen to your podcasts, they may consume more of your content and ultimately buy your products or services.
With 63% of people starting their buying journeys by doing an online search, it’s clear you need to incorporate SEO to get more of those users to see your website in the SERP.
Improve website rank and visibility. When you combine SEO and content marketing, your content pages will rise in the ranks of search engine results. That means when someone in your target audience is searching for keywords related to your business, your website is more likely to show up in the top results, which gets your brand more visibility and, ultimately, more clicks.
Boost click-through rates. You want people to come to your website, explore your content and ultimately trust your brand enough to become a customer. But to get more eyes on your content, you need SEO to boost your ranking in the SERP. Moving up just one spot in the SERP can increase click-through rates by about 2.8%, and landing in the top organic spot can gain high click-through rates, around 27.6%.
How Content Marketing Helps SEO
Clearly, SEO can have some profound benefits on content marketing. But your content can also influence SEO. Without content, you have fewer chances to incorporate SEO best practices and secure those first-page search results rankings. Benefits of content marketing for SEO include:
Additional keyword opportunities. If you sell products or services, your landing pages or shopping platforms may not offer a lot of real estate to incorporate keywords naturally. That can hurt your chances of showing up in search results for search terms related to your brand. By creating content in the form of blogs, for example, you are able to incorporate more keywords, boosting SEO for your website.
More authority. Remember EEAT? Search engines want content produced by experts, as this makes it more likely for users to receive legitimate, reliable content from a website. Your content is your chance to prove your knowledge and experience in your industry, and this provides more value to users.
When your content is more valuable and informative, it can receive more shares and backlinks. This further bolsters credibility and boosts your SEO.
Longer content may lead to a higher SERP ranking. Today, search engine algorithms prioritize longer content. While bite-sized content at 300 words used to be king, the average word count for content that shows up on the first page of Google is about 1,447 words. The key is to create content that will fully answer the user’s questions without being overstuffed with keywords or fluff.
How to Start Using SEO in Content Marketing
If you haven’t been incorporating SEO in your content marketing strategy, it’s not too late to start. The process of combining SEO and content marketing will require some time and effort to see results, but the rewards are worth the wait.
When it comes to incorporating SEO, you still want the content to sound natural. Your first focus should be a natural tone of voice and content that is useful. From there, you can add in SEO by:
Finding the right keywords. To start focusing on SEO, you’ll first need to choose the right keywords for your website. You’ll need to consider your target audience and what terms they might be searching for that could relate to your content. You can also use tools to help fine-tune potential keywords, such as Google Keyword Planner, HubSpot’s Content Strategy tool, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer or Moz Keyword Explorer, just to name a few.
Incorporating terms into your content. After doing some keyword research and determining what keywords and long-tail keywords you want to target, it’s time to start sprinkling these terms into your content. It’s important to seamlessly incorporate keywords so that it is still readable and easy to understand.
Include a primary keyword at the beginning of a blog post, and add in keywords to subheads and sentences throughout the article. Aim for one keyword for about every 200 words of copy, and stick to focusing on about three to four keywords total per post.
Making highly specific content. You might come up with a lengthy list of keywords that suit your brand. But if you can only incorporate a few keywords per piece of content, how can you work toward improving your SERP rank for each of your target keywords? Ideally, you’ll want to narrow your focus for each piece of content and then incorporate a few different keywords.
For instance, rather than writing blog posts about marketing in general, you can break the topics down into posts on email marketing, inbound marketing and content marketing.
Setting up a content calendar. Adding to your content library regularly is important to inform customers and improve SEO. Set up a content calendar that maps out how frequently you’ll write, edit and publish new blog posts and your schedule for video or audio content. If you want to boost traffic, aim to publish blog posts at least three times per week.
Updating older content. Refreshing older content is just as important as creating new content. This gives you a chance to update statistics and data in older posts to reflect more current information, which makes those older posts timeless and more relevant to users. It also gives you a chance to see how older content is performing and update keywords as needed to increase traffic.
Securing backlinks. A backlink is when another webpage links to your website. This can happen when a website references your work, and backlinks signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy and your content is credible. The best way to secure backlinks is to create valuable, evergreen content that other websites will want to link to as a source. Skip trying to buy links, which will negatively impact your ranking in search engines.
Create an SEO/Content Marketing Strategy for Best Results
At its heart, good content marketing is designed to engage and inform, to build trust and authority around your brand, product or service. Awesome content plus a stellar SEO strategy ensures your message reaches the right audience and that they connect with it when it does.
Together, content marketing improves your SEO, and SEO directs more people toward the helpful content on your website: a win-win for your brand and your audience. With practice and intention, your content and SEO sides will be seesawing in perfect harmony before you know it.