For the longest of time, marketers have looked at SEO and content marketing as two distinct playing fields.
The differences are, of course, easy to spot from afar. SEO is about on-page and off-page practices that improve your rankings in search results, while content marketing is about the development of trust and buyer confidence through the value of information.
But as search engines like Google make a push for a more user-friendly internet, they continue to blur the line between SEO and content marketing campaigns.
Link building, for instance, has always been a core SEO activity that can lift a website’s ranking power.
Put simply, the more high-quality backlinks that point to your site, the more discoverable and authoritative it is to search engines — specifically to crawlers that are in charge of evaluating and indexing online content.
How Link Building Has Changed Over the Years
In the past, marketers have leveraged all sorts of tricks to rapidly build a massive backlink profile. This includes spam comment submission, link farming, low-quality article directories, and so on.
However, search engines have long since caught on to these manipulative tactics and have repeatedly tweaked their algorithms to reward great content and legitimate, “white hat” link building strategies that put users first.
It has come to a point that the best way to build the links these search engines want to see is to focus on a solid content marketing strategy. Which involves effective keyword research, prolific content promotion, and prolific guest posting.
Aside from the potential of quality content to amass links and garner traffic, it’s also directly tied to other relevant SEO metrics — from organic click-throughs to pages visited per session.
With all that said, every marketer needs to up their content marketing game if they want SEO success. And without further ado, below are proven strategies that can make this happen.
Determining Demand with Keyword Research
It doesn’t matter if you run a blog, an e-commerce store, or an online bank — your content strategy needs to align with your target audience’s needs.
To be in touch with their areas of interest and start writing content, understanding the keywords they use in search engines is a step in the right direction.
Here are three tools that can get the ball rolling:
With software like Keywordtool.io, you can get a quick glimpse of what users are looking for. It works by generating long-tail keyword suggestions using Google Autocomplete.
For example, if you own a social media marketing blog, just key in “social media marketing” to reveal long-tail keywords you can target in your content strategy.
From an SEO standpoint, keyword research is also helpful to help you unearth ranking opportunities that are more viable for your brand.
If you tend to target broad and generic terms, there’s a good chance you’ll go toe to toe with bigger companies with deeper pockets. As such, you need to pay attention to the competitiveness of the keywords you choose.
While the free version of Keywordtool.io is great for finding content topics, the keywords’ competitiveness ratings aren’t shown unless you upgrade to the pro version. If you’re on a budget, try using Keywordtool.io in conjunction with Ubersuggest to gain insights on the competition.
Answer the Public
If you’re set on using keywords to find content title ideas exclusively, Answer the Public is another tool that comes in handy. Unlike the aforementioned keyword research tools, it pulls in questions and camparisons that the online public asks around certain terms.
Using Keywords to Fuel Content Development
Uncovering lucrative keyword opportunities is only the first step.
To capitalize on them, you need to know how to weave them into your content in a way that doesn’t disrupt the user experience. They must also be integrated into parts that search engine crawlers associate with relevance.
A general rule of thumb is to make sure you mention your target keyword at least once in key elements of your content:
Your content’s title is the first thing users and search engine crawlers will look at when determining relevancy. Since long titles are truncated in search engine results, try to include keywords within the first 60 characters.
Headers or Main Body
Mentioning your target keyword in the content’s main body is a given. When it comes to headers, however, the only thing you need to remember is to only insert keywords when it makes sense.
For marketers who like to tinker with HTML, headers can be assigned using the “<H1>,” “<H2>,” “<H3>,” and similar tags. Still, it’s more ideal to stick with the formatting options provided by your website platform or content management system.
Although search engines don’t consider keywords in meta descriptions as ranking factors, they do help increase organic click-throughs.
Take note, a meta description gives users an idea of what your content is all about. In addition to including your target keyword, it must also be succinct and accurate.
When developing keyword-optimized content, you should consider investing in solutions that leverage NLP or Natural Language Processing to supercharge your production.
Verbolia, for example, evaluates your thoroughly analyzes your existing content’s semantic context. It then utilizes this information — combined with content from other authoritative sources — to produce high-quality pieces that are tailored to your keywords and your audience’s preferences.
Making Your Content More Compelling
Ultimately, your content is useless if it fails to captivate your target audience.
Let’s face it, text-based posts can only do so much to engage readers and keep them hooked until your call to action. This is especially true if you write long walls of text that are by no means readable.
With that in mind, here are a few things you can do to make your content significantly more attractive to your audience:
With a tool like Canva, you don’t need a professional graphic designer to translate content into infographic form.
Canva is a self-service visual design tool that lets you build unique content from templates. All you need to do is customize it by adding icons, text, shapes, and other design elements that suit your needs.
Not only are listicles easy to write, but they are also much more preferred by readers who are searching for specific information. This is mainly because listicles are more skimmable than long-form articles that have no organization whatsoever.
The typical title formats for listicles are:
- “Top X Tips on…”
- “X Reasons Why You…”
- “How to…in X Steps”
Finally, screenshots are indispensable if you’re writing a guide on how to use a piece of software.
With tools like Jing or Evernote Skitch, you can quickly take snapshots of whatever’s on your screen. These tools also feature a drag-and-drop editor for annotations — allowing you to spice up any post with visual content without spending hours editing screenshots.
Perhaps the best way to perceive the importance of content marketing is to embrace it as a service to your target audience.
Think of it this way: you don’t have to provide them with valuable content to help solve their problems. But in saying so, you also concede to the fact that they don’t have to trust your brand nor be your customer.
It’s always “give value to receive value.” And with content marketing, the value you dish out gets returned two-fold — in the form of customer trust and higher search engine rankings.