How to Make Your SEO Effective through Content Marketing
There's a faction in the SEO market who says things like “SEO is dead” and “Content marketing has replaced SEO.”
At Small SEO Tools, every time we come across these kinds of claims, we know right off the bat that these folks are not well-updated and do not keep abreast of the latest happenstances in contemporized online marketing. While the era of stuffing keywords in a blog post so that it ranks higher on Google is far gone, SEO is still very much alive and even more important than ever. The only thing that has changed is the way the game is being played (not the game itself), mostly due to Google’s frequent updates and how they've re-engineered search.
Studies upon studies have proven this. This study in particular finds that 81% of shoppers use search engines before making a purchase online. Don't make the mistake of thinking that SEO is dead because of content marketing. There is no competition between the two. Instead, they work together in correlation.
In fact, they complement each other — for your content marketing to go places, you need to do it with SEO best practices in mind. Conversely, to make your SEO effective and get desirable results from it, you will actually need to pay close attention to content marketing.
And that's what we will be talking about in this guide — making your SEO effective through content marketing. But before we go into that, let's see how SEO and content marketing relate.
HOW SEO AND CONTENT MARKETING RELATE
If you’re doing content marketing, but have poor SEO, you might as well not be creating content because no one is going to find your content.
But then, can you do SEO without content? No!
When users type words or phrases related to your industry into search engines, they are looking for CONTENT. Savvy marketers understand this. That's why 72% of them say that relevant content creation is the most effective SEO tactic.
But don't get this twisted:
Although SEO and content marketing overlap, they are distinguished from one another in several key areas. SEO is technical and functions around the search engine guidelines. It focuses on understanding the phrases (keywords) that can drive traffic to websites. Therefore, SEO concentrates on satisfying the needs and requirements of search engines.
On the other hand, content marketing functions around satisfying the needs of human audiences. But these points of differentiation don't mean that they are entirely separate. SEO demands *content* to display to users. Content marketing is all about providing [that] content (articles, blog posts, words, substance, keywords, verbiage).
As a matter of fact, Google’s latest algorithm, RankBrain, is designed to serve users the MOST relevant content based on the context of their queries.
Another point: Keywords are a critical part of SEO. The only way you can use your keywords is by employing them strategically throughout your content. All this shows that there is no SEO without content. And so, to get great SEO results, it's important you look into getting content marketing results.
ESSENTIAL CONTENT MARKETING TO-DOS FOR EFFECTIVE SEO
A significant number of businesses are having a go at content marketing, including 90+ percent of B2B marketers. This means that almost everyone is doing SEO (content) whether directly or indirectly. Given that huge number, content marketing are has become pretty competitive. More and more marketers are vying for the attention of a limited audience, even through search engines. What can you do to stand out? How do you ensure your content marketing efforts (and SEO) get you results.
Here are the things to do:
1. Document a content marketing strategy
We cannot emphasize the importance of having a content marketing strategy enough. It's super important!
To drive home this point and show you clearly the significant difference between having and not having a content marketing strategy, let's share with you a quick case study. Back when they started out, Groove HQ, an online customer support service, had early troubles. They were about to be out of cash and their startup was about to fold.
Were they doing content marketing?
Yes, but their marketing efforts were failing because they didn't have a concrete strategy. As a result, nobody was visiting their site or signing up for their product.
Desperate, lost, and terrified, they decided to finally get serious about content marketing. The Groove team stopped everything they were doing and spent the next two months researching and asking for advice from experienced content marketers.
Within those two months, they regrouped and came out with a content marketing strategy based on expert recommendations.
Afterward, Groove had over 250,000 people reading their content each month, 6,000+ customers, and generated about $5 million in annual recurring revenue all thanks to the strategy they developed back then. Those numbers have significantly improved today.
Your business may not be about to run out of money, but like Groove, you need a content marketing strategy if you expect to be successful, and more so at SEO. Why? Well, because it's important. One of the top reasons for the miserable results businesses are getting from their content marketing is the lack of strategy.
A survey jointly conducted by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs finds that of all the successful marketers surveyed, 66% have a documented content strategy. And only 11% of the unsuccessful marketers have a documented content strategy.
Those stats show that companies with a documented content strategy are more likely to succeed at content and search engine optimization than those without. Without a strategy, you’ll be wasting your time, losing money, and feeling frustrated in the end.
Among other things, an effective content marketing strategy should define your key performance indicators (KPIs), identify and track the numbers that are important to your business — rankings, social shares, conversion, views, traffic, CTRs, sign-ups, etc. — and address your priorities.
And talking about priorities, in a study, B2B marketers say their biggest priorities are understanding the customer buying journey (78%), mapping the right content to the right buyer journey stage (77%), and attributing and measuring performance across channels (53%).
Content marketing strategy subsumes the big picture of marketing, including audience, optimization, content types, revenue, profit, brand, goals, execution plans, etc.
In creating a content marketing strategy, stop thinking of content in a vacuum. Rather, go deep and beyond the everyday limits. Ask yourself challenging questions like:
Why am I doing content marketing? What am I trying to accomplish with my content? What are my goals and how do I best achieve these goals?
Who exactly am I trying to sell to and what are the best and most effective ways to reach them?
Your content marketing strategy should clearly answer questions like these and more in a profound and data-driven way.
You'd be surprised to find that SEO takes several content marketing strategies into consideration. For example, if you decide to push out your content through social media platforms, your rankings will improve because social signals have a role to play in search rankings. It's actually one of Google’s ranking factors.
2. Create valuable and informative content
Creating quality content day after day is difficult to pin down. We know this quite well because we are doing it!
The chart below also supports this fact.
From cases of writer’s block to the difficulty of digging for good topics and ideas, there’s no denying the challenges that come with creating fresh, valuable content for your audience. Yet, there’s also no denying the immense benefits of consistently publishing informative content, and the latter is exactly why you simply cannot afford to not do it.
People who successfully and consistently craft compelling, valuable content that gets to the heart of their readers experience drastically more site growth than their competitors.
Take, for example, Buffer, a social sharing platform, consistently publishes what it describes as “Deep Tactical” content on its blog.
As a result, it receives millions of unique visitors each and every month with about 66% of the traffic pouring in from search due to the consistent quality posts.
The fact is, people, want valuable, informative materials, and the marketers who provide these sorts of materials are those who will eventually win the hearts of people and dominate search engine results pages (SERPs).
According to HubSpot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5 times more traffic and 4.5 more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.
Look at the image below and you will find that the biggest factor that has contributed to B2B marketers’ increased success over the last year is higher quality and more efficient content creation.
In addition to creating valuable and informative content, also personalize and customize your content.
You see because according to the IBM Digital Experience Survey, over 56% of marketers believe that personalized content promotes higher engagement rates.
Personalized content helps consumers to remember a brand and encourages them to engage more personally with the company. This introduces a positive feedback loop that benefits both the customer and the company. Plus, the more engaged people are with your content, the more RankBrain will rate your site in SERPs. It's called “Dwell Time” over at Google.
Again, according to Dragon Search Marketing, 61% of consumers are influenced by custom content.
The bottom line: You can't build a badass brand with shitty content.
To solve a problem, it's advisable to identify the cause and attack it from there.
What could be causing you to create content that sucks? Let's quickly look through it:
You don’t have an idea of what kind of content to produce. We recommend you get connected with your target audience and ask them what they want to see.
You create the wrong content. It could be wrong in terms of a buyer persona, content type, business market (B2B vs B2C), etc.
Your content is freaking boring. This is common if you're in a “boring” industry or run a “boring” niche, so to speak. What to do is look for special techniques and optimization methods to bring your content up to life (like adding images to your blog posts or telling beautiful stories in your content).
You don't stand out from the crowd. We mentioned earlier that almost everyone today is doing content marketing. In this kind of situation, to succeed, you'd have to produce better content and proactively make efforts to stand out.
You hired “inexpensive” writers. Take “inexpensive” to mean low-quality. Most businesses are guilty of this. They want to do content marketing, so they go over to a content mill (or simply post an ad to a low-quality job board) to hire a writer for $15/post. They generate a shit ton of topics and let the writer mess around with words. Then they post the worthless stuff on their blog and call it content marketing. It goes without saying that such an endeavor is a total waste of effort, time, and money. Not only should you hire a writer who is worth his salt, but one who has an in-depth knowledge of your industry and can confidently teach your audience in an expert way.
Both B2B and B2C markets are full of buyers who are eager to learn and self-educate. It makes sense to provide as much content as possible to facilitate that process. It's like buyers are literally screaming “Give it to me NOW.”
For B2B in particular, purchases are higher value and rely more on quantifiable benefits and less on implied or lifestyle outcomes.
While B2C is about feeling safe, secure, and informed, B2B is about respecting insights or knowledge… which means expertly written content is necessary, and at some point, your business buyers will require it from you.
The better content you publish, the higher your chances of winning. Just consider the fact that nearly fifty percent of B2B technology buyers consume two to five pieces of content before making a buying decision, as revealed by the Eccolo Media B2B Technology Content Survey Report.
As for what types of content to create?
The Eccolo Media B2B Technology Content Survey also reveals that tech B2B buyers prefer whitepapers (98%), case studies (66%), and technology guides (37%). Social Media Examiner’s Industry report also states that 78% of B2B businesses find blogging to be effective.
3. Promote your content intensely
Have you ever wondered why your blog posts, no matter how great you think they are, fail to receive much attention?
There's only one answer to that: You don't put them in front of the audience that matters. In short, the fastest way to NOT get results from your content marketing is to do nothing after you click “publish.” But sadly, that's what most marketers do.
Content marketing is not just about creating content; content creation is only one part of the equation. There's another (and a more important) part: Content promotion.
To get results, you have to promote the content you create, and you have to do so intensely.
And we are not talking about just leaving it to Google, Bing, and other search engines to do the promo for you. We are talking about deliberate and proactive efforts channeled towards getting your content right in front of the people that count — your audience.
If you've been following Small SEO Tools’ content marketing processes around the web, you'll discover that we promote our content on multiple platforms including the major social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
We recommend you do the same. We will even recommend you apply the 80/20 rule.
The rule states that 80% of results come from 20% of efforts, and so people ought to focus their energy on the important 20% of activities. But here's how you should apply it to content marketing: You ought to put in just 20% of your time on creating content and 80% promoting it.
If you flip that, your pieces will not receive the exposure they deserve.
This does not mean creating less content. It only means doing MORE promotion in addition to the content you're creating. This does not also mean trimming down on your content quality. Without [great] content, there'll be nothing to promote in the first place, right? But you can be doing everything right in terms of content creation and optimization and still see little to no engagement from readers and the SERPs.
The point is this:
In an era where over 2 million blog posts are being published daily, promotion is what marks the difference between successful content marketing and shitty stuff.
And when your content marketing is successful? SEO thrives!
If you aren’t taking the time to squeeze the most out of your content in terms of promotion, you’re banging yourself on the head.
And content promotion is not rocket science. If anything, it actually what you need to do to maximize your content marketing results. Spend the bulk of your time promoting your content through the right channels. This way, you’ll inevitably get your pieces in front of more eyeballs, grow your audience, and maximize your results even on the search engines.
Where should you start?
There isn't a “right answer” to that question. The best advice is to focus on the promotion channels that get you the most returns on your time investment. Reports show that most marketers use, on average, 13 content marketing tactics to promote their posts.
While that could mean you have a plenitude of options for promoting your content, it could also mean you have numerous opportunities to waste your time on platforms that simply won't work for YOUR BUSINESS. However, if you want recommendations, here are a few promotion tactics we know to make sense:
Social media: According to HubSpot, 66% of marketers obtain positive lead generation benefits through social media. Facebook and Twitter are great, but statistics show that LinkedIn is the dominant and best social platform for B2B, with one LinkedIn Sponsored Updates being capable of generating up to 400% more leads compared to other social platforms.
Emails: Send new post notifications to your email list subscribers. Chances are, those who have interacted with your blog, read your content, and signed up will certainly want more. Send new pieces to them every time you publish.
Blogger outreach: I consider blogger outreach a kind of influencer marketing. If done right, it can be very effective. Pitch bloggers and site owners, and ask them to share your content.
Paid ads: If you want to go a little overboard, try paid ads for your content. This is one of the most effective strategies for driving traffic to a website. Of course, businesses do this mostly for their products. But, it's equally great for promoting content. I'd suggest that if you have to do this, you do it for really remarkable cornerstone pieces.
And of course, optimizing your content for the search engines is just completely necessary.
4. Invest in content marketing
Just as with most things in life, when it comes to content marketing, you get what you pay for. If you want results from content marketing (and SEO), you need to invest enough money in it to achieve that. Businesses that invest a lot in marketing are able to expand quicker and more easily than companies that don’t spend as much.
These businesses are throwing a lot of money into content marketing, which is a good thing; we are talking billions of dollars here.
But content marketing and SEO are a lot cheaper than traditional marketing, yet it offers the best return on investment (ROI). For instance, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, yet it generates more than three times as many leads.
Again, for every $1 spent, email gives back a whopping $38 in ROI, and offers the broadest reach, according to CampaignMonitor.
Now you know why these businesses are putting their monies on it.
But hey, just because businesses are spending billions of dollars on their content marketing doesn't mean you should throw your hard-earned money into content marketing just like that.
Go back to your drawing board and meticulously look at the content marketing efforts that have had the greatest ROI for you. Then, invest more in those.
As for SEO, we've even done the donkeywork for you in terms of spending big. You know, Small SEO Tools runs a very rich inventory of quality SEO tools you can use anytime for FREE. We spend lots and lots of top dollars developing these tools so that you wouldn't spend again. In fact, our vision here at SST is to make premium quality SEO tools that are as good as paid ones available for you. You can take advantage of these tools to “awesome” your content marketing.
And do remember that “investing” is not just about money, but also talks of time and skills investments.
Here's a takeaway for you:
It is advisable to spend more on a good content marketer vs on tactics. A good marketer knows all the creative and digital touchpoints that can boost results and will give you more ROI.
Again, you get what you pay for. For example, if you hire someone from a marketplace like Upwork to create a 1000-word article for you at $5, the outcome can never be up to the quality and results you will get if you pay a professional freelance content writer $300 to produce awesome content for your business.
If you're on a tight budget, we advise you to hold spending on the higher-priced content strategies like paid social ads and focus on the less expensive methods like blogging for search domination.
We are convinced that your business can rank higher in SERPs. You can make your SEO efforts produce results for you. What you have to do is get your content marketing to work. Of course, there are more things you can do to get content marketing working for you, but if you would put to work these major ones discussed above, you'd take your business where it is and snowball it.
Here's where to start:
Head over to our SEO tools page to pick the right tools for powering your search engine optimization and content marketing. You can also follow our SEO blog, smallseotools Facebook page, or Twitter page to keep abreast of the latest happenings in SEO and content marketing.