For most online marketers today, content marketing and SEO remain largely siloed strategies.
But search algorithms have changed immensely in recent years, making it easier to see how they can work together towards the same goal.
In this post, I’ll explain the logistics behind how your content marketing campaigns can drive SEO.
There’s No SEO Without Content
Let’s start with the most obvious connection. If you don’t have content on your website, or you have very little, there’s no way to improve your SEO.
Keyword optimization is one of the most basic SEO tactics, and one you can use again and again throughout your content campaign. Another important SEO strategy, high-quality backlinks, is equally impossible to pursue without developing a body of valuable content to link back to.
Even Google’s upper ranks, including former head of webspam team Matt Cutts, recommend taking the time to become an authority in your niche (which can be achieved through content marketing). He said, “Try to make a site that is so fantastic you become an authority in your niche.”
The payoff is evident:
Building authority in your niche through content marketing can take a lot of time, but the efforts become a major driving factor behind SEO.
The Role of User Experience
SEO requires marketers to put efforts into technical aspects that make it easier for Google to crawl their website and categorize their content, such as:
- Creating a site map
- Optimizing URLs, meta descriptions, alt tags, etc.
- Ensuring optimal site speed
- Checking for broken links and redirects
These and many other technical tasks have serious effects on SEO, but it would be wrong to say they don’t matter for content marketing as well. In order to have an effective content marketing campaign, you need to make it as easy as possible to navigate your site. And what does that involve? The same technical aspects needed for SEO.
Bad UX kills great content, and many marketers have begun to appreciate the benefits of optimizing for user experience:
When you think about it, search engines are just another distribution channel for your content.
You take the time to optimize your posts for social media and other distribution channels as part of your content marketing. Optimizing your URLs, meta descriptions, body content, etc. to rank well in searches and attract clicks is just another task on the distribution list. As it turns out, many UX factors you pay attention to for content marketing have an influence on SEO, such as:
- Including helpful internal links
- Using images with your content
- Video integration
- Responsive design
- Font readability
- Interactive elements
These factors demonstrate how optimizing your content for UX improves content marketing while driving SEO as well.
Fresh Content Gives Opportunities for Better SEO
In Google’s push to always deliver the most relevant results, it favors content that is up-to-date and relevant to searchers’ current interests. New content is indexed quickly, ranks better in SERPs, and is given priority over older content, especially if your site is high-authority. In the same vein, consistently publishing new content is essential for content marketing success. In fact, it’s one of content marketers’ biggest concerns.
Because content marketing is a consistent, ongoing strategy, it makes businesses uniquely positioned to take advantage of SEO perks that static websites never can.
The Truth Is in the Data
Few marketers realize how content marketing efforts have been shown to positively impact important search engine ranking factors. Exactly what factors Google uses to determine rank remain a mystery, but there has been enough research into what influences rank that we have some ideas. Moz’s latest study found several important factors:
I highlighted a few that are directly affected by content marketing efforts:
Page-level keyword and content-based features include on-page keyword optimization, content quantity, quality, and relevance. Content marketing is all about creating high-quality, valuable content, and the diverse range of content types created gives marketers more opportunities for on-page keyword optimization.
Page-level social metrics and engagement and traffic/query data are also improved with the immense help of content marketing. Social media is one of the most powerful content marketing channels, where marketers seek likes, shares, comments, and other forms of engagement. This also serves to drive more traffic to the website, improving click-through rate and website engagement.
While Google maintains that social signals aren’t ranking factors, Searchmetrics’ correlation research backs up Moz’s findings that it is. It may not be a direct part of the algorithm, but something about social engagement is influencing SEO.
With the search algorithms of old, there were many black hat SEO tactics that could help you improve rankings. Irrelevant backlinks and keyword stuffing did wonders for SEO, often at the detriment of content marketing efforts.
But Google understands the importance of maintaining their own UX, which is why recent algorithm changes have been focused on eliminating the effectiveness of these tactics. Now, Google is most concerned about quality content, which is central to every successful content marketing campaign. That’s why statistics like this really aren’t surprising:
The differences between optimizing for search engines and developing an effective content marketing campaign are becoming fewer with each algorithm update. Now, it’s easy to see how your content marketing campaigns are the most powerful tools you have to drive your SEO efforts.