Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are both titans of modern marketing, yet they’re not spoken about in the same conversation often enough.
In this article, I will take a quick look at content marketing and SEO and then detail how you can integrate these two approaches to supercharge your results from each approach.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
There are a few moving parts here. Typically, content created and promoted will help the reader in some way, and, in some instances, it will be purely for entertainment.
Red Bull does a great job with entertaining content marketing by aligning themselves with lots of high-octane sports. A great example is Red Bull Stratos, where Felix Baumgartner parachuted to earth from space. This is pure entertainment, yet it is well aligned with the brand.
For the average business, the content you publish is likely going to be a little more practical and related to the pains, gains and jobs that your target customer wrestles with.
At Bowler Hat, we help businesses with SEO and digital marketing, so we tend to publish content that helps people improve their SEO. We are talking mainly to business owners and in-house SEOs.
This exposure helps us demonstrate our expertise and build relationships with companies that we can help. It’s marketing, but, in a nice and non-sales-focused way. It’s marketing that feels good and not pushy.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Land defines SEO as follows:
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.
I am going to assume that most Search Engine Land readers will be satisfied with that, as they probably are quite familiar with SEO, but there is a more detailed definition here if you’d like one.
While the definition above works for our purposes, all too often we see small business SEOs concerned only with ranking for the big and obvious commercial terms. This is inarguably important, but because everyone wants to rank for the big obvious terms, this can be super-competitive, both in the organic results and within the paid placements.
Where content marketing on search engines can be most helpful is when it puts you in front of customers before they are comparing potential suppliers. Establishing contact with a potential customer at this point gives you a chance to illustrate your credibility and generate leads earlier in the buyer journey. This type of helpful thought-leadership content is also one of the easier types to promote, so it can help you build links that can naturally improve your rankings on those coveted commercial terms.
Content marketing & SEO
Marketing is all about being in the right place at the right time. And in 2017, when people have a question, they typically ask it on one of the major search engines (well, mostly Google).
Yet many content marketing efforts rely on social media or email to get the message out there. These channels can be powerful. But they rely on the hope that your social post, ad or email gets in front of a prospective customer at just the time when they are looking for your products or services. Sure, targeting has gotten more sophisticated, but it doesn’t really compare to search engine marketing, which works so well because we know our listings are seen right when people are searching for that information.
Having your content found by prospective customers on Google is the holy grail. It is your content at the right place and the right time. It is truly scalable, and when it comes organic listings, it doesn’t come with a cost per click.
How to get your content marketing found on Google
You have two basic options here:
- Publish on a highly authoritative site where the content will naturally rank well.
- Build the authority of your own site and your published content.
Option #1 is fairly self-explanatory As an example, I recently published an article on ways to measure the success of SEO right here on Search Engine Land. I focused on keywords that were variations on “SEO KPIs” and “measuring SEO,” and the article naturally ranked from first to third for the majority of these terms.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.