SEO and content marketing intersect in more ways than optimizing web pages with keywords.
Answering the question, “How does SEO and content marketing strategy interact?” starts with understanding customers, behaviors and preferences for information discovery, consumption and sharing. Knowing what customers care about and how those concerns and interests manifest as search keywords and social topics folds very well into the keyword research practiced by professional SEOs.
Keyword Glossaries and Editorial Plans can be valuable tools for marketers to aid in creating relevant content that is inherently optimized for customers and target audiences alike. Specific keyword optimization is appropriate as well, but the end content product becomes much easier to find, consume and share if an understanding of customer questions is translated into topics and keywords from the start. This is the core of how brands can become the best answer for what customers are looking for.
The role of a content plan is to outlines content types, topics and the keywords they’re optimized for. Content plans also show where and if the content will be re-published and re-purposed, plus which channels of distribution will be used to promote the content. Search engine optimization also applies to social media content that emphasizes popular and relevant social topics vs. search keywords.
Planning, creating, optimizing, promoting and engaging with content on topics that customers and target audiences care about is where SEO has evolved as Content Marketing Optimization. SEO expertise, which also includes knowledge of how search engines crawl and index websites, content management systems, the impact of how websites are coded and organized, provides a powerful ally to Content Marketers when goals and objectives are in alignment.
To understand where SEO can create performance optimization opportunities for content marketers, it’s important to evaluate the current situation and uncover the gaps that represent opportunities for improvement through a series of audits.
Keyword Research – Customers often speak a different language when it comes to using search engines to find answers or solutions. So, it’s important to identify what phrases represent the mix of reasons for using a search engine to find solutions like those offered by your company. Of course, people search for more reasons than to buy products and services, so keyword research can provide essential insight into the demand for topics that customers might have across the entire journey from awareness of a problem, to consideration of options to choosing specific solutions. A Keyword Research audit will asses your website, competitors, consumers, web analytics and keyword research tools to identify, organize and manage your target search keyword phrases. From the audit, you can then discover what keywords will best motivate customer actions from top of mind consideration to leads and sales.
Content Audit – Once target keyword phrases and topics have been identified, a comparison with current website content is made to determine optimization opportunities as well as to recommend new content creation. It’s pretty tough to be found in search for topics that do not exist on your website. In competitive categories, a website must be the best resource for a topic to stand out. Content optimization takes inventory of all content and digital assets that could be a potential entry point via search and recommends SEO copywriting tactics to showcase those pages as the best answer.
Technical SEO Audit – If search engines have difficulty with finding, crawling and indexing your content then it may put your site at a disadvantage. Search engines are far from perfect, so the more website owners and marketers can do to help the engines do their job, the more advantage we can create for desired visibility in search. From core web vitals and performance of individual pages to structured data, xml sitemaps, duplicate content, mobile friendliness and many other aspects of how web page content is delivered to search engine bots when they crawl, a technical SEO audit will reveal a prioritized list of fixes that can result in both better search engine visibility and a better experience for your customers.
Inbound and Internal Linking Audit – Links help search engines and customers alike find your content. Links from one page to another serve as a signal that can be factored by search engines as they decide the best answers to display in the search results. A Link Audit identifies the quantity and quality of links from web sources pointing to your content. A comparison with top performing websites in your industry and keyword category can reveal numerous opportunities to attract more high quality links to your content. Additionally, the site architecture of your website and how pages link to each other using anchor text is important for both search engines and user experience.
Social Media Audit – The influence of social media on search engine visibility may be more indirect due to the use of nofollow in links but the inclusion of social content within search results represents an opportunity for brands to earn substantial real estate in search results beyond the brand domain name. Assessing a brand’s social presence, engagement and distribution through social channels is as much an audit with SEO implications as it is for social media marketing. Understanding a brand’s social authority and content distribution can lead to a much improved approach with benefits to customers as well as to the business.
If there’s a market demand through search for solutions offered by a company, then search engine optimization solutions are essential for maximizing that opportunity. But SEO doesn’t work on it’s own. Content is the reason search engines were created and it is content that represents the best optimization opportunity that impact discovery, consumption and action by customers.
Optimizing for better search visibility goes beyond driving sales. People use search engines to find the best resources in a variety of ways that benefit businesses. For companies that expect to gain new business, protect their online reputation, grow social networks, attract new employees and provide a great user experience with online customer support, then SEO is an essential tool in the content marketing mix.