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One would think that search engine optimization, or SEO, would be at odds with content marketing. The two, however, really do fit together. In fact, strong SEO can help your content marketing efforts.

Cause of confusion

SEO and content marketing have been viewed as two different entities. Thus, companies look at their budgets and whether they should prioritize investing in content marketing or SEO.

In some ways, the two are different. Content marketing is created to drive traffic. It is more holistic and has a broader reach. SEO is more technical and is done to increase search engine-generated traffic for existing content on a site.

There is an inaccurate belief that content marketing eliminates the need for SEO. For example, The Guardian published an article entitled, “Is Google’s love affair with content marketing usurping SEO?” It seemed, the publication pointed out, as if “SEO is becoming a less gameable practice.” There shouldn’t, however, be this disconnect.

While the article did not say SEO was on its deathbed, “The relationship between content marketing and SEO only reaches its true potential when it’s designed to be symbiotic.”

Truth be told, content cannot exist in a vacuum. To use the cliché, content is king. This still rings true because you cannot run a search to find information without words and keywords. And, in order for your content to be found, it’s important to optimize what you have. Thus, you also need SEO.

Better together

Strong SEO can actually help your content marketing efforts. Part of your strategy should be a focus on optimizations that increase the probability that content will be found during an organic search.

There is a bit of a line to constantly walk. You must keep in mind that while SEO tactics are important, quality should never be at the expense of SEO. At the same time, if your content lacks proper optimization, it will not be easily found by search engines. As you develop your strategy, both sides need to be taken into consideration and given equal attention.

So what to do?

Since it is determined that both SEO and content marketing are important, keep these tips in mind:

No keyword stuffing. While keywords are important, gone are the days when you could fill a post with just the right words to move your ranking higher. Do not make keywords your main focus, but note that algorithms still search for keywords. Integrate them into the content as well as the title, links and URL.

Remember to link. There are two ways that SEO and content marketing really overlap. The first is with links. Inbound links influence visibility and rank and search engines continue to look for them. Make sure they are quality links. As Google reminds us, bad or spammy links violate their guidelines. If you want your content to be found by Google, they “recommend that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible.”

Going social. The second big overlap between SEO and content marketing is social media. There is the technical side of SEO and the holistic side of content marketing. Using social media to get the message out helps both sides. In fact, a study by Searchmetrics reveals that Tweets, Likes, Shares, and other social media signals help boost search rank. According to Bing guidelines, “If you are influential socially, this leads to your followers sharing your information widely, which in turn results in Bing seeing these positive signals. These positive signals can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.”

Optimize for mobile. With more than 31 million people accessing websites via mobile devices, it is vital that content be designed and optimized for mobile search. That audience is much too large not to accommodate it.

Bottom line benefits

Good marketers know that getting traffic to your site isn’t just about numbers, it’s really about conversion. How can the SEO work with the content marketing to turn a visitor into a customer?

Trond Lyngbø, founder of Search Planet, says there is a bigger picture to consider as you develop a SEO plan developed around a content marketing strategy:

  • Find out what people want and give it to them.
  • Use retargeting lists to communicate with visitors, even after they leave your site.
  • Make special price offers on your product or service if prospects act now.
  • Evolve a smart content marketing plan to build content that pulls in your target customers.

Thoughtful and engaging content that readers want is vital and no amount of SEO will help poorly written content. As Lyngbø states, however, if you invest in content marketing without SEO, it is suboptimal.”You will limit your own success and end up publishing content that no one is interested in.” Balance content with SEO and benefits abound such as:

  • Increasing traffic and possible conversions.
  • Reducing cost for content that does not get traffic.
  • Reducing costs for promoting content because it is now found organically.
  • Establishing yourself in the industry because organic rankings are higher.
  • Possibly increasing business as well as retaining current customers.

Michael Marchese is the founder and CEO of Tempesta Media. He is responsible for corporate strategy, executive team leadership and overall business operations across all the company’s segments.

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