How Content Marketing Plays Into SEO (and Vice Versa)

12/10/2017 12:17 pm ET

Originally posted on www.rowedigital.com on 11/26/17

Content and SEO go together so well, it seems almost frivolous to talk about them separately. However, there still seem to be a wide variety of businesses and even marketing experts that believe these silos don’t really have a lot in common. After all, an Altimeter study cited by Curata found that 30 percent of marketers don’t have a consistent or integrated strategy, meaning that they have siloed their different areas of marketing.

This can hinder productivity, communication, and improvement. When marketers have worked together on an integrated strategy, the majority of content creators have cited SEO as one of the aspects of marketing that has had the biggest impact on their organization’s bottom line. Below are some of the ways that content and SEO influence one another to create better content, search visibility, and an overall more effective online presence.

Good Content = Better Search Visibility

As search engines continue to refine their algorithms for indexing and displaying content in its search results, the need for high quality content to display for user searches has become even more crucial. As more and more content is created each day, the only way to stand out amongst those who create useless content is to focus on creating high quality, useful content that gives users what they are looking for. Yoast lays out its case for why the quality of content affects SEO. Its main points are this:

1. It provides better user comprehension, e.g. it gives them what they are looking for

2. It lowers the bounce rate, which is something search engines monitor

3. It creates more trust in the website, which may lead to more inbound links and return traffic, both of which are relevant to SEO

4. It leads to more social media shares, which some SEOs believe has some sort of impact on search (though search engines haven’t directly confirmed this correlation as of now).

In addition, making sure your past content is still useful to the reader has SEO benefits as well. Because of Google’s “freshness” ranking factor, updating content to make sure it’s as relevant and up-to-date as possible has long-term SEO benefits. SEOs have long known about Google’s interest in the dates of content. It was first introduced in 2003 with Google’s patent on information retrieval based on date. Then, in 2011, more information came out about the “freshness” ranking factor as part of the algorithm and how content recency affects content’s place in search engine result pages (SERPs).

Content Teams Need to Automatically Optimize Content

Another reason why content is reliant on SEO is because the best content is already created and published with SEO in mind. Cross training and collaboration between content marketers, creators, and SEOs is crucial because in order to be most effective, they should all be using one another’s skills in their jobs. As content creators write and upload posts, they should be following all SEO best practices, including properly optimized titles, headers, and backend HTML formatting to make it easy to read by both the user and the search engines.

If content marketers don’t know the basics of SEO, they stand to create content that isn’t as successful as it could be. What’s more, by handing these SEO basic tasks off to someone else instead of doing these tasks as they are creating content, it may cost other employees more time that they could be spent doing something more productive.

Along the same lines, SEOs that don’t have the best content writing skills won’t be as affective as those who do, as some of their role does deal with optimizing content pages, writing meta titles and descriptions, and testing call-to-actions or other elements on pages. SEOs don’t have to be writing experts, but being able to understand basic grammar and persuasive writing in business can go a long way to better site content.

Content Types Need to Be Identified Correctly

Another aspect of as-you-go content optimization that works directly in tandem with SEO is better content identification. This includes schema markup and alt attributes for images.

Schema markup not only identifies important site attributes to search engines (such as a company’s phone number, operating hours, and business type), but it can also be used to properly catalog content. Some of the common schema markups businesses or publishers should be using for their applicable content includes recipe and event markup.

When used properly, there is a correlation between schema use and a greater chance of higher SERP positioning, inclusion of featured snippets, and knowledge box appearances. According to a study cited by Kissmetrics, proper schema leads to up to four higher positions in search results compared to websites that didn’t have schema at all.

Besides schema, content creators should always add alt attributes in images, as this helps make the web more accessible and lets search engines better catalog images for image search.

Search Data Can Be Used For Content Ideation

As your content is better organized and more identifiable to search engines, it often leads to more data, which causes a reciprocal effect for SEOs and content marketers. As mentioned on Search Engine Watch, how people find your website is invaluable information for both SEOs and content marketers.

For SEOs, it helps them identify their top referral sources, which can impact strategy and help identify areas of improvement (e.g. tweaking landing pages to better address top referral sources). For content marketers, reviewing what phrases the company website ranks for, as well as monitoring search data, they can craft a better content strategy.

Regularly reviewing internal site searches, as well as common industry searches (using a tool like Answer The Public), can help content marketers come up with content ideas for blog posts, podcast episodes, webinars, and explainer videos. By knowing exactly what your target audience is looking for, you can craft more niche content to answer their queries.

By working together to create highly optimized content ahead of time, SEOs and content marketers can more easily get more visibility for their content. This leads to more traffic, leads, and referral traffic. As the cycle continues, integrated teams can use search and site data to continue to create content users actually want to read, which makes search engines more likely to include it in search results.

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