Relationships can work. Relationships can fail. Relationships can be productive. Relationships can be destructive. But whatever they are, they are united by a shared interest.
SEO and content marketing are bound by their desire to catch the attention of their target audience. The two disciplines may not want to admit they’re in a relationship, but they are – as I explain below.
Recommended reading: Topic Cluster Model: Your Next SEO Strategy
SEO is about putting results in front of people
At its heart, SEO is about one thing – understanding what users are searching for and then putting the right results in front of them. Search engines employ a range of tactics in order to do this, below I’ve explained some of the most important.
E-A-T is used to give users the right web pages
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. It’s the quality control method used by Google to determine the position that it gives websites in its results, with the search engine reviewing the content on websites to determine how high it scores on E-A-T.
Expertise and SEO are about the depth of knowledge a website’s content has on a given subject – it concerns the level of detail a site’s content goes into. Does this show a relationship between SEO and content marketing? Absolutely. Because expertise means that pages with detailed content can demonstrate that a business knows more about a subject than when they create pages with short-form content.
As content marketing seeks to provide the material to answer questions posed by users of search engines, you can create a mutual relationship between SEO and your content assets by writing detailed blog posts that deal and address the issues faced by users.
While expertise is about the standard of the content found on websites, authority is more concerned with whether the site is the best place for users to access the information that they want. For example, if a user wanted to know who the best U.S. basketball team is then it would be sensible for search engines to assume that the NBA website will be an authority on the subject. But is there a link between this SEO facet and content marketing? You bet – it’s the backlinks to your website that your content marketing secures.
Content such as blog posts, infographics, or videos don’t only add value to your marketing strategy by featuring in SERPs. By creating a linkable asset that lots of other sites want to link to, you can demonstrate to Google that your website is an authority on a topic.
The relationship between SEO and trust is that Google wants to be sure that the content on a website delivers on the promises it makes – if your website is about selling running shoes, for example, then users will expect to find lots of information that will help them conduct research about running shoes.
One of the key ways that Google measures trust is by using social signals, and (as you can expect) this is another example of the relationship between SEO and content marketing. Why? Because if your marketing team can produce content that receives lots of views, pages with high dwell time, and plenty of high-quality comments, then it demonstrates your site is trustworthy. This is particularly important in local SEO, where a key indicator of the authority local businesses are the ratings they get from their customers.
Images help to get users’ attention
While images don’t get quite the same E-A-T treatment as content, they are still extremely important to the users of search engines. This is demonstrated in the fact that images are one of the first things a user sees in many search engine results pages (SERPS), as you can see from the image below:
SEO also uses images as a ranking factor by giving you the option to add alt-text to them. Alt-text is descriptive content added to images to explain what they are. This is important because search engines cannot crawl and read images, so adding the alt-text makes the images in content marketing assets searchable – adding keywords to the alt-text means that these assets can get an SEO benefit from them.
In order for content marketing assets to really gain an SEO benefit from the images they use, the images must be high-quality – this is because it helps to drive click-throughs to the content.
Using unique images is the best practice for getting the most from the relationship between SEO and content marketing. This due to the increased chance driving the aforementioned click-throughs, and because it takes away the risk of you competing with another (more authoritative) site and losing the chance for your image featuring in SERPs.
However, time and financial constraints mean that it’s not always prudent to use original images, making it necessary to use high-quality stock images that put you into competition with other sites. The important rule to follow when picking stock images is to be discerning with your sources (use lesser known sites with high production values like Burst over sites that are packed with overused images) and you’ll achieve the right balance. You can then enhance this by adding relevant alt-text to the image so that you still have a great chance of getting a good ranking from your select stock images.
Content marketing is about connecting with your audience
SEO wants to give users the best answers to their queries and content marketing wants to be the answer, then use this status to build a connection with its target audience. Content marketers expand on this connection by using a sales funnel, which follows the Know 👉 Like 👉 Trust 👉 Customer model of progression – you can see an explanation of this in the video below.
Sales funnels develop the relationship between you & your audience
SEO gets the attention of your audience by making your website (or pages) the most attractive solution to any questions they have. Content marketing uses a sales funnel model to take this attention and convert audience members into customers.
Know 👉 Like 👉 Trust
Content is used to introduce you and your brand, giving the audience hocks to build on the initial interest, and explaining what makes you unique. This develops by showing that you have mutual interests, helping to form a bond. Finally, you give a backstory to build trust and present an image of how your audience’s lives will be improved by having you in them.
Here the job of content marketing reaches its end goal – the content marketer uses the relationship they’ve built with their audience to get them to buy their product(s).
SEO’s need content marketing & content marketers need SEO
“You’re not an SEO unless you’re also a content marketer. You’re not a content marketer unless you’re also an SEO,” says Neil Patel, and he’s right. While both SEO and content marketing are separate disciplines that have different skill sets, they’re united by a shared interest – getting the attention of their target audience and using it to achieve their goals.
SEO and content marketing are in a relationship but neither seems to want to make it official, as Neil Patel points out: “I’d love to see these two occupations blend a bit more. I don’t think that the acronym SEOCM (Search Engine Optimization + Content Marketer) is going to take off.”
For now, SEO and content marketing have forged an attraction, shared a few moments, and woken in each other’s arms before disappearing silently. While they don’t want to admit it yet, from the outside we know that this relationship means something.
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