Have you ever assembled a puzzle?
Most of us have. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction watching the image slowly come together through tedious effort and clever tactics.
But for some, putting the puzzle can be frustrating. There might be one piece, just ONE piece, that’s missing from a section, and it can drive you mad looking for it.
Here’s the thing — content marketing can be a lot like a puzzle, with many pieces coming together to make something amazing.
Unfortunately, content marketers often get fixated on a single piece, leaving the rest of the puzzle unassembled. That piece is, very often, “Search Engine Optimization (SEO).”
SEO and content marketing are becoming two pieces to a puzzle in today’s friendly online marketing era. Yet, SEO as a separate piece has still earned more than its fair share of attention.
Frankly, it’s not hard to understand why.
Getting to the front page of a search engine like Google can seem like the make-or-break gauge of success for a piece of content.
But there’s a lot more to what makes a fantastic SEO and content marketing strategy, where you win with both Google and readers; and ignoring it will simply leave you with an incomplete puzzle.
A holistic approach to it all is what you need today in order to win.
A Holistic Approach: How SEO and Content Marketing Fit Together
Thankfully, there are definitive steps you can take to ensure a holistic approach to your SEO and content marketing strategy.
1. Learn the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing
One major mistake marketers tend to make with their content is making it overly advertorial or salesy.
Sure, potential customers might stumble across your blog through a referral, or a backlink, or a search engine.
But if they’re looking for helpful information or a solution to their problem and all they find is an advertisement for your latest product or service, they’ll feel alienated right off the bat.
In fact, 28% of Americans actively seek to avoid advertisements online, according to Hubspot. And advertisers are the second most hated group online, only falling behind criminals and hackers. Yup.
If your content becomes perceived as a sneaky advertisement, you might quickly find your brand being seen in a light you never intended.
It doesn’t matter how great your SEO is if you’re creating content that is entirely self-serving. Truly great content will help to inform and assist the reader, rather than cajole them into a conversion.
The positive impression a reader engaging with your content will have a far greater impact than merely a sales pitch alone.
Customers who feel serviced and satisfied will willfully engage with more of your content, explore your brand in greater depth, and even recommend you to others.
And here’s the best part — all these efforts to ensure your content benefits a potential customer will pay dividends in SEO.
It’s Not Just About Keywords Anymore
It’s not just about keywords anymore. There’s a lot more to building a comprehensive SEO strategy.
Among the most effective methods to increase search engine visibility is generating quality backlinks from other sites.
And, simply put, no one is going to link back to an advertisement.
People link back to valuable, easy-to-understand, hyper-relevant content. If you break out of the mindset of needing to convert every reader with a sales pitch tucked in every piece of content, you’ll find your SEO improving in tandem with your conversions.
2. Write Exceptional, Meaty, Evergreen Content for Your SEO and Content Marketing Campaigns
How long does it take to put together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle?
No matter how good you are, it’s a time consuming process — and effective content creation is no different.
Anyone can whip up a stubby blog a couple hundred words long stuffed with the requisite keywords.
As a matter of fact, many are already doing it. It’s a super bad habit, and a perfect example of a strategy focused purely on SEO and not on content.
There’s evidence to back this up, too. Neil Patel of Quicksprout found that posts he made over 1500 words received 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes than shorter posts. That’s a massive boost for a more thorough article.
Even if you have good intentions about informing your audience, if it’s not well-researched and relevant, it won’t appeal to readers. In content marketing, it’s not the thought that counts — it’s the product.
With that said, it’s important to dig deep into your subject matter to create content that’s so thorough, readers will frequently return to you for their information.
Speaking of information, that’s the other thing you’re going to have to consider.
What kind of information do you intend to share? It can seem daunting to break new ground, especially in fields that are written about with extreme frequency (here’s looking at you, content marketing.)
Thus, it can be a bit tempting to jump on current events and tie your content to that. Trending hashtag? Next blog post. Viral challenge? Gotta upload a branded video.
There’s just one problem — this type of content has a short shelf-life and won’t have the long-term impact it could.
That’s why you need to build a foundation of “evergreen” content for your marketing strategy.
Evergreen content involves creating pieces that are relevant for as long as possible (ideally forever, but things do change and need to be updated.)
When you develop a marketing strategy, consider developing content that won’t become outdated anytime soon. This means it can continue to draw views, shares and backlinks well after its publication, giving you a long-term SEO boost as a consequence.
In the long run, your dedication to creating long-lasting and meaningful content will result in a wealth of engaging and relevant material that will drive readership years after it is written.
This doesn’t mean you have to completely ignore current events — quite the opposite. Making your content relevant to the experiences of your viewers is essential.
It’s just important to remember that this can’t be the keystone of your strategy. With a careful application of topical material on a foundation of evergreen content, you’ll remain relevant now and far down the line.
3. Engage With Your Community
Have you ever tried putting together a whole puzzle on your own? Like many activities, it is one that’s faster, easier and more fun with friends.
With all your energy focused on attracting readers to your website, you may forget that good content marketing is more than a one-way conversation.
Sure, you have an amazing product that you know everyone will love if they would only give you the time of day, but with so many companies out there competing for customer attention, your message could easily be drowned out by all the noise.
Waiting for Google to rank your content well may be one way to get people to come to your site and share your message, but actually encouraging your community to engage with your brand adds the personal touch that keeps them coming back.
The best way to determine if you’re striking a chord among your audience is to talk to them yourself. You can do this by leveraging social media to gather their feedback on a new product or idea.
Even more important than seeking validation from Google by chasing high page ranks, is the confirmation from your customers that your content is fulfilling their needs.
By listening to and engaging with your readers, not only will you demonstrate that you truly care about their opinions, but their feedback could also help you continually improve your product.
Your community can also be used for cross-promoting great content. It is a common practice for content writers to reach out to other writers to help promote their material.
Proactively reaching out to others allows you to share content to people who may not have viewed it otherwise. Even better, if they like what you’ve written, they will often add it as a link on their website — driving even more traffic to your content (and benefiting that ever important SEO.)
You can return the favor by linking to others’ content that is relevant to your readers. Your readers will thank you for introducing them to helpful information.
Even in the digital age, it is still important to foster an authentic connection with your community.
This way, not only will readers come to your website, they’ll also stay.
4. Words Are Good, Rich Media is Even Better
There’s another part of the content marketing puzzle you may have not considered — especially if you’ve been extremely focused on SEO.
Rich media like images, slideshares, videos and infographics all have amazing potential to engage and inform your audience.
Check out the SlideShare I recently did for my book, So You Think You Can Write:
Pretty cool, eh?
But what does this SlideShare have to do with “SEO?”
Again, think holistic…
Remember why you create content in the first place.
It’s about more than a series of tricks and gimmicks to get you to rank well on Google, it actually exists to provide a service — or at the very least entertainment.
With media-rich content like videos and infographics, your audience will be able to have a diverse, multi-sense engagement with your brand, elevating their experience beyond just reading another blog.
Here’s some fast facts about user engagement with videos, courtesy of Hubspot:
- After watching a video, 64% of viewers are more likely to buy a product online
- 92% of mobile video viewers share videos they’ve seen with others
- Video in an email leads to a 200-300% increase in click through rate
And because of this, over 87% of companies are including video in their content strategy. It’s clearly striking a chord.
“But what about the SEO?!” a frazzled marketer might reply. “Great visual content is all well and good, but what use is it if no one sees it?”
A valid question, and here’s the answer — media rich content is the most shared, receives the best backlinks and is the easiest to promote. That means it’s great for SEO, just without all the hassle.
Are you beginning to see a trend here?
Great Content Means Great SEO
If you’ve made it to this point, you’ve probably begun to realize the point I’m getting at.
The puzzle you’re trying to put together is one that attempts to drive engagement with your online brand. SEO is an important piece of that.
But when it’s conceptualized as something other than just a piece and becomes the main focus of content marketers, it becomes less effective. Because great content, by its very nature, means great SEO.
It’s tough breaking out of the old mindset, one which placed an enormous importance on keywords (which no longer have nearly the impact they used to.)
How best to rank on search engines is a dynamic and ever-changing process, and to keep up, you have to be able to adapt.
There’s this idea that you have to futz around with code, and tags, and text with every piece of content you create in order for it to rank.
While that certainly won’t hurt, simply creating content your audience wants to engage with will work much more effectively.
Conclusion: Content is Powerful
Content has the amazing potential to build a trusting, engaged audience.
By being informative without being advertorial, by making deep, well-researched content, and incorporating media-rich content into your strategy you’ll be putting together a far more comprehensive puzzle than just focusing on SEO alone.
And in today’s search-engine climate, that’s what works.
Hire your best content writers from our team at Express Writers.