It’s very common to stumble across articles or blog posts extolling the virtues of SEO and content marketing, but what exactly do these terms mean, and how are these forms of marketing so effective for modern businesses?
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a popular marketing technique, which aims to improve the search ranking of content produced by businesses.
If you use Google as a consumer, you’re probably aware that the links at the top of the results page attract more attention. How often do you move past page one, for example?
An effective SEO campaign uses a host of different tactics to climb the page, making your links and your website more accessible and appealing to a wider range of people. In the simplest terms, search engines look for authority and relevance when organizing pages, and this is a consideration marketing teams must bear in mind.
To get ahead, you need to be able to build a reputation and stand out from the crowd at the same time as ensuring you comply with the search engine’s rules.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing uses content to attract potential customers and convert leads into sales. The aim of a content marketing strategy is to use different types of content, for example, videos, blogs, and informative articles, to catch a reader’s eye, and ultimately, encourage them to choose your business.
To succeed with content, you need to focus on producing materials that are valuable to the reader. The days of spouting out endless articles packed with keywords are long gone. Depending on the type of business and the tone of the site, the content should be educational, interesting, entertaining, humorous or explanatory. The first part of the content campaign is turning heads.
Once you’ve done this, you can turn your attention to persuasive sales techniques to ensure the customer completes their order or calls to find out more.
Although content marketing and SEO are separate entities, they are interwoven, and you can’t really reap the rewards of a campaign without employing both.
A useful, effective SEO campaign demands high-quality content, and businesses need SEO to get that content noticed. If you imagine a Venn diagram, you’d find that the circles for SEO and content marketing overlap in the middle, rather than standing alone.
How SEO and content marketing have evolved
SEO and content marketing are still considered modern marketing techniques, but they are definitely not new concepts. Businesses have been using these methods for years now, but there have been significant changes. SEO has evolved, and the way it works has adjusted to suit new algorithms and respond to emerging consumer trends and advances in technology.
If you’ve spent any amount of time working on a marketing project, or even reading about marketing, you’ve probably read posts about the notion that ‘content is king.’
Although content remains a major player, and an effective content marketing campaign can make all the difference to a growing business, content marketing has developed and matured. In the early days, keywords were vital and marketers were focused on their own content. Today, keywords are important, but there are new ways of connecting with the audience, and content marketing and SEO are linked to sharing content, encouraging interaction and building links.
One of the most significant events in the recent history of SEO and content marketing is the Google Hummingbird update, which came into play in 2013. The update was designed to alter the way Google performs and displays searches to enhance the experience for the user. Prior to Hummingbird, you could type a series of words in the search box and end up with results that didn’t necessarily match what you were looking for. The aim of the modification was to personalize the experience and encourage user engagement with the results. It is estimated that the Hummingbird update affected around 90 percent of global searches. The update concentrated on three main elements: the ability to interpret natural, conversational language, a new focus on semantics and understanding how humans think, and a shift towards providing results based on context and personal intent, particularly for voice searches.
Before Hummingbird, if you were looking for a Thai restaurant, but you were based in New York, you could ask Google about Thai food and be presented with recommendations for eateries in Bangkok or Koh Samui. Now, Google will take your location into account, and you’ll be given restaurants that serve Thai food within walking distance of your current address. In days gone by, the primary focus of SEO was to get to the top of the list by impressing search engines. There were days when stuffing keywords and search terms into paragraphs sent you soaring up the list. Today, the landscape is very different.
Google updates have put a stop to poor-quality, spammy content, and the focus has shifted from satisfying search engines to appealing to humans. The quality of content matters and Google won’t put up with content that doesn’t offer anything more than a few keywords. The aim is now to push original, engaging content, which actually serves a purpose. People don’t have the time or the inclination to spend hours trawling through posts. They want to find answers or learn more as quickly as possible. The diversity of content has also grown, and consumers have access to images, video clips, infographics, and articles.
If you’re part of a marketing team putting together a new SEO and content marketing campaign, your primary aim is now impressing the customer and making sure you give them what they want. By prioritizing the target market, you can increase your chances of linking up with buyers or customers who have a genuine interest in the services or products you sell. Search engines demand content that is useful and valuable for their customers, and if you can deliver posts and links that satisfy this requirement, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
Using SEO and content marketing to extend your reach
In the simplest terms, content is used as a platform for SEO marketing. In the past, this meant producing content, which was intended to improve search engine ranking, most commonly through the use of keywords. Keywords still have a role to play, but the way Google works has altered the way businesses go about promoting their brands.
Today, sharing and creating networks has a more powerful impact, and you’re likely to find that using content to reach out effectively involves using backlinks and establishing positive relationships with other web users. Forging valuable, relevant connections can help you improve your ranking, and also reach out to a pool of customers that is likely to be interested in what you do. There’s no point in attracting a lot of attention online if you’re showing off to the wrong audience. Backlinks are an incredibly valuable SEO tool, but you need content to deliver this part of the strategy.
The same can be said of keywords. If you want to optimize an article focused on a keyword, you need to be able to produce a post that showcases that keyword in a natural context. An aggressive sales pitch won’t cut it. Subtlety is the way forward.
Making friends online can help you optimize existing content, but it can also pave the way for new content. If you’ve got pages you’re desperate for people to see, you can liaise with others in your network to encourage them to promote your pages, usually in exchange for a backlink to their site.
Google has also insisted upon a friendly approach in terms of building links. Businesses are encouraged to build a reputation for quality content, but also to show that they are trustworthy. This means working on personable relationships and promoting interaction, rather than using underhand tactics to get noticed. It’s rare to stumble across an article about SEO without the words content and marketing appearing in the same sentence.
SEO and content marketing are inextricably linked, and the success of one depends on the other. You need to produce original, fresh content to drive your SEO campaign, but you also need to understand the mechanics of how search engines work and how you can get the best out of this marketing technique. SEO has evolved and the focus has shifted from search engines to humans. The aim for marketing managers now is to use both elements to maximize results, convert leads, build online relationships, and reach out to a growing client base.