The growth of content marketing has created a permanent shift in the way marketers view SEO. Rather than taking a purely technical approach to link-building, many SEO agencies are now expanding their services to include content production and promotion as a way of supplementing other ongoing optimization efforts.
Content certainly hasn’t replaced SEO, especially since there are several technical SEO elements separate from content marketing. Content marketing also has very different goals from search optimization. While SEO primarily attempts to improve visibility and acquire new customers, content marketing covers a multitude of goals, including new acquisitions, customer service, lead nurturing, PR, social engagement boosts and more.
The best approach for a marketer or brand looking for ways to leverage content marketing and SEO is to examine the ways in which they intersect. Some tips to do that:
1. Find a balance in quantity and quality.
Your content team will want more quality content, but the SEO team might be more focused on quantity of output. The more content your teams can produce, the greater your company’s chance will be for showing up in search results for a wide range of search terms the team is targeting. Just take it from HubSpot: Companies that blog regularly have 97 percent more inbound links.
Unfortunately, there is a ceiling for how much content you can produce before something gives out. If you focus too much on quantity, the quality of your content will take a hit as your teams struggle to produce more and more.
The only option you have at that point is to stretch your resources by hiring another writer or outsourcing to an agency or freelance job board (go hyper local with sites like Craigslist, Independent Writers of Chicago or Built In Boston if you need someone nearby) who will have the capacity needed to handle the level of output you’re striving for.
The trick here is finding a sustainable way to balance content and SEO. High-quality content produced at a steady, consistent, and measurable pace will prompt more engagement, more traffic and more backlinks.
2. Focus on evergreen content.
SEO wizards have one job to do: build organic visibility to keep traffic flowing in. Your content team needs to align with that goal by producing the right kind of content.
Jumping on trending topics and industry news can provide a significant spike in traffic immediately, leading to brand lift and new lead acquisitions. However, content based on trends often plummets in search results shortly thereafter. The freshness score drops pretty fast as trends die, which indicates that this type of content has a pretty short shelf life.
Related: The 4 Laws of Content Marketing
Evergreen content, on the other hand, will lead to more long-lasting results.
SEO has done much of the legwork to analyze audience research and determine the most relevant keywords aligned with customer pain points. Your team should prioritize content that is highly useful to readers and contains actionable advice around those pain points.
Evergreen content, which is relevant for a much longer period of time, will garner more links and see higher engagement metrics — both of which are ranking factors.
It’s critically important for SEO and Content to team up in this area, because it creates a beautiful traffic loop that has long-term benefits for your brand. As evergreen content grows traffic, gains links and deepens engagement, the search engine will eventually serve it more often for relevant searches.
3. Incorporate keywords.
As mentioned above, your SEO team should already know which keywords will improve visibility, but these keywords have to be used if you want to be seen. It’s not uncommon for content writers and marketers to balk at injecting keywords into content. They want to write for the reader first, and they want that content to flow naturally.
This approach isn’t wrong, but to be truly effective, the content still needs to include the terms and phrases your audience is using, as well as semantic terms.
Rather than pushing a writer or your content team members to pigeonhole specific keywords into their writing, let them produce the content that most naturally targets the audience. This method should creatively slip in some of the target words and phrases the audience searched for.
The content can later be adjusted to work in keyword variations where they fit more naturally.
4. Review and reporting.
It takes time for content to gain traction, and the SEO side will need to monitor all the content your team produces to ensure your strategy is working. This includes generating traffic, engaging the reader, contributing to conversions and ultimately pulling its weight in the funnel.
Those reports need to be shared with the content side of your business. This way, both teams will recognize which topics or formats have the most significant impact and which of the poorly performing approaches need to be eliminated from the content strategy.
Streamline efforts for the future to avoid wasting time on tactics that don’t provide results or help the team meet its goals.
With SEO and content marketing, you’re dealing with two very different disciplines that should operate together, since many common goals are shared. The success of one team greatly depends on the contributions and dedication of the other.
Whether you’re working with in-house, remote teams or a combination of the two, know that teamwork and consistent communication are crucial. When you keep the information flowing, your teams will soar past milestones and tackle goal after goal as your business continues to grow.