So, everyone’s talking about how content is king and how every business needs a proper content strategy if they want to build and maintain a real online presence. What many people overlook is that an effective content strategy depends highly on other digital marketing functions for outreach, promotion, and distribution.
Content in itself is rarely enough to build awareness, traffic, and sales. No matter how great your production skills are, if you’re not making it easy for your audience to find your content, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see any significant improvements in your online presence.
One of the most important marketing functions needed to support your content strategy is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). These days, content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand. So much so that many prominent influencers in digital marketing have advocated the death of traditional SEO and the rise of Optimizing Content for Discovery and Conversion (OC/DC).
Sean Jackson wrote a great article about the death of SEO on Copyblogger where you’ll find plenty of insightful information regarding OC/DC.
The main challenge for businesses is that SEO tactics have had to evolve to address every major change Google has made to their search algorithm, and this will continue to be the case in the future. The recent changes that significantly affected SEO and content marketing were the Panda and Penguin updates.
Google Panda update
Released in February 2011, Google’s Panda update aimed to penalize websites for having “low-quality content.” This meant that sites with shallow or unoriginal content would not fare as well in search rankings when compared to sites that had unique, in-depth content.
All of a sudden, producing quality content became an integral part of SEO, and this really changed the way websites approached their digital marketing strategies.
Google Penguin update
Google made yet another significant change to its search algorithm with the Penguin update, which was released in April 2012. This update, on the other hand, was designed to punish sites that were using spammy methods to rank well on Google. These tactics included keyword stuffing, black hat link building, and cloaking (presenting different content to search engines as opposed to human users).
This update all but killed traditional SEO strategies, hence the death of SEO and the rise of OC/DC. The focus of modern SEO became creating quality content and getting quality backlinks from quality domains.
SEO and content marketing have now become two sides of the same coin. Though there is a much higher focus on content than there used to be, content marketing cannot operate effectively without SEO.
Why SEO is Integral for Content Marketing
Increased organic outreach
Let’s face it: If you want your audience to see your content, you’re going to have to put it in front of them. Sure, you can use social media or email marketing, but you’d be neglecting the large portion of your audience that is actively seeking similar content via search engines.
Optimizing your content for search engines makes it more visible to a much wider range of users. On the first page alone, the first five organic search results account for 67.6% of all clicks. There are several techniques to accomplish this, including but not limited to on-page optimization, proper keyword usage, and building quality links to your site.
Incorporating SEO techniques into your content marketing strategy also makes your content more visible to relevant users (users that you are targeting with specific keywords). The best way to improve your click-throughs and conversion rates is by making your targeting more efficient.
If you want to make this work, you need to have a clearly defined target audience from the very beginning. This will help you determine the right keywords to target to reach your best prospects.
Increased link authority
If you’re addressing SEO for your content strategy, after a while, you’re probably going to attract sites to link to your content (backlinks are one of the primary ingredients of SEO). Not only will this help you rank better on search engines, but it will also provide your content with referral traffic from those linking sites.
Building links will also increase your site’s domain authority, making your content more credible. This, in turn, leads to more traffic and more importantly, more conversions based on trust. The truth is, if your site is ranked within the first page of search results, this in itself makes your website seem more trustworthy. Plus, since backlinks increase your site’s overall ranking, you end up gaining organic traffic. 91% of all pages never get any organic traffic from Google, mostly due to the fact they don’t have backlinks. Incorporating SEO tactics in your blog posts can easily remedy that.
Develop a data-driven content strategy
So how do you know what topics to base your content around for best results with your target audience? The answer, once again, can be obtained through research and SEO.
SEO inherently helps you develop a data-driven content strategy whereby you know what topics most of your target audience is searching for. This enables you to determine what topics to write about in the future for maximum effect.
One of the hardest aspects of content marketing is effective analysis of success metrics. Leveraging data makes your content strategy actionable, which means that you’ve got a solid reason for doing things a particular way, making the road ahead a whole lot clearer.
SEO helps you develop other content marketing best practices
Proper keyword usage – SEO techniques help you learn proper keyword research and use them more effectively within your content. Much like a seasoning, using too little makes a dish bland, while using too much makes it overpowering. Using just the right amount within the body of your content makes it downright delicious, especially for search engines.
Great headlines and descriptions – The headlines and descriptions of your content make a big difference in search visibility, but they also help make your content more compelling to readers. Adopting the best SEO practices in this sense will improve traffic and user relevance for your site.
Uniqueness of content – Being SEO savvy with your content marketing also teaches you to produce original content, making it unique and more valuable to your audience.
Regularly updating content – SEO best practices entail repairing, renewing, and replacing old material with updated content. Not only does this make your site more visible to search engines, but it also makes your content “better” and more relevant to readers. Keeping things fresh will help you hang on to existing customers while attracting new prospects in other desirable demographics.
There is no doubt that SEO is critical to the success of your content marketing. It is vital to keep up with Google’s updates and ensure that your content is relevant to both search engines and your target audience. Making your content more visible is key to good outreach. You spend a lot of time creating awesome content and you want people to be able to benefit from consuming it. This relates to all businesses, no matter the industry you’re trying to emerge into.
Do you want to achieve great insight to your customers? Attract more traffic to your content? Have the best possible ROI for your content strategy? If your answer is “yes”, SEO for your content strategy is an effort that you need to invest in. It is tried and tested, offering significant results when done well. Get your content ranked highly on search engines and make your presence known online.