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Mention digital marketing and within minutes buzzwords like search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing are mentioned. Both are more than buzzwords. They are an integral part of successful digital marketing for most current brands.
If you run a business that uses digital marketing, chances are you already use both. SEO will drive traffic to your website while using content marketing on your blogs and social media channels. But here’s the question: do both tactics work well together? If not, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to help your brand grow.
See also: 7 reasons why SEO is important for every startup
Making sense of the buzz: SEO vs. content marketing
Before considering how SEO and content marketing can be combined in your marketing strategy, it’s important to understand the differences between the two tactics. As digital marketing terms become more common, they are often used interchangeably even though they describe different things.
What is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing “focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a well-defined audience.” The overall goal is to encourage customer actions that benefit the brand, whether it’s subscribing to a service or purchasing a product.
Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing works indirectly with the consumer and aims to generate interest in their products or services versus specific brands. Rather than talking to customers about a specific product or service, content marketing helps a customer solve problems by providing information they may not have had before.
Brands that excel at content marketing and search engine optimization build lasting relationships with their audience. Customers are increasingly relying on the brand as a source of advice and not just as a company pushing products and services forward.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization is a crucial part of marketing for businesses that rely on website traffic. It organizes and optimizes content from search engines like Google and helps your website rank high in search results. The Digital Marketing Institute defines SEO as a process that helps brands generate website traffic from “free, organic, editorial, or natural search engine results.”
As a brand, you might pay an SEO expert to improve your rankings, but there are no payments to the companies behind the search engines. This is what differentiates SEO from search engine marketing (SEM), which refers to paid listings. While SEO takes time to deliver results, SEM can increase product visibility in the short term.
Many brands use both approaches as part of their digital marketing strategy. But let’s just focus on SEO. SEO has become a non-negotiable part of the digital marketing strategy of any brand that relies on website traffic for their success. Without them, even the best-designed website may never be found by relevant audiences.
Based on these clarifications, the connection between content marketing and search engine optimization can be easily recognized.
Also see: 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use SEO to Boost Customer Service and Growth
Make content marketing and SEO work together
To realize its full potential to benefit your brand, content marketing and SEO must work together. As a new brand, you should create content with search engine requirements in mind. As a brand with an existing content library, it pays to review your content to ensure your search engine is benefiting from it.
Starting from scratch: How to develop SEO-friendly content
Just a few years ago, creating SEO-friendly content meant plugging keywords into an otherwise well-written article. As a result, many websites became unreadable and unhelpful to their users. Search engine operators have recognized this and started to change their algorithms. Today, search engines strive to provide users with the most relevant content.
So how do you tell Google that your content is relevant? The answer is simple: be clear with your content. Search engines crawl websites, and the easier it is to identify the focus of your content, the higher your content will rank on search engine results pages.
Staying focused is key to developing successful content. This may sound simple, but it is sometimes surprisingly difficult to implement. For example, if you offer separate online courses for languages and personal finance, avoid putting both types of courses on the same site. Instead, create a separate language course page and another personal finance page. You might also want to break down the language courses into individual languages.
The same goes for blog posts. It is possible to blog about the benefits of online courses in general. However, creating individual content for online language courses and personal finance courses almost always results in more content on the relevant pages.
Creating content from scratch means starting with target keywords in mind and matching the content to those keywords.
Optimize existing content
Creating brand new content can give you an edge in SEO, but it’s a time-consuming approach. Most established companies and brands already have a content library and should update and optimize that content to improve search engine rankings.
Again, it helps to try to think like a search engine. Websites that are continuously updated rank higher than those with stagnant content. Updating existing content is a great way to meet this need while saving time.
Optimizing existing content would not be complete without checking internal and external links. Internal linking informs search engines about the structure of your website and reveals related content. Orphaned content, unlinked pages are difficult for search engines to find.
Related: Why SEO Is Much Easier Than You Think
SEO and content marketing should work together to attract the most users to your website and generate sales.
Start developing content with SEO in mind to create synergy. Delivering great content that users benefit from can easily be SEO friendly, especially when developed that way from the start. Treating SEO as an afterthought at the end of content development just doesn’t deliver the best results.
Creating content with your audience in mind and a clear understanding of your topic makes it easier to optimize content for rankings. Regardless of the time investment, traffic optimization is worthwhile for your company.