Folks walk up to me at conferences or email me for advice on SEO all the time, and a question they often ask is, “What is the role of SEO in content marketing?”
My answer is always the same: SEO should be viewed as reinforcement to your content team.
More often than not, this is followed by another question: “How should SEO and content marketing teams work together to achieve success?”
Let’s explore this in more detail. In the SEO universe we live in today, getting this synergy right can mean the difference between exponential business success and miserable failure.
SEO & content teams must work together early
SEO consultants should participate early in the process, even before decisions about content creation are made.
SEO isn’t about keywords or phrases alone, and effective content marketing is more than just crafting articles and other forms of online content around high-volume keywords that will drive a lot of traffic.
Keyword analysis should be used as a way to study and better understand your customers. The goal should be to know them — their needs and preferences, their problems and worries — on an individual level.
For example, a shoe manufacturer may want to get ranked for searches on “best running shoes for flat feet” or “best running shoes overpronation.” Rather than rushing out to create content optimized for these phrases or search terms, I recommend studying the intent that underlies these searches.
- What are prospective buyers really looking for?
- What problems do they want you to solve for them?
- What are they revealing about their situation or needs?
Once you uncover the unstated intent behind a search phrase, you will be able to create content that answers their questions, engages their attention and kindles their interest. Inevitably, this increases the likelihood of a sale.
Use content to initiate and develop relationships
Your content shouldn’t be limited to covering a broad subject or achieving a certain keyword density. Your content should communicate with visitors in a manner that resonates with them on a deeper level.
You shouldn’t be talking at them or using content that goes above their heads. Meet them where they are, then guide them along a path that adds value by providing information, advice and assistance.
The content you produce should provide assurance and build confidence. You can use it to show empathy by acknowledging their problems — even before they are explicitly stated. If you have already uncovered their intent, this is relatively easy.
Produce the best content you are capable of publishing. Make each page on your website a destination where your prospects will find the absolutely best information about a topic or subject, product or service, problem or solution.
As I’ve mentioned before, the ultimate goal of content marketing is to be memorable and remarkable so that your audience cannot afford to ignore you.
Smart content marketing combined with SEO can appear magical
When you integrate SEO with intelligent content marketing, your website visitors will almost believe that you’re a mind reader… because you will be giving them exactly what they came in search of!
Of course, you know it isn’t magic but rather smart SEO analysis. By studying the keywords of site visitors, by tracking their path across your website, by using analytics data to study how long they stay on your pages and which ones they visit next, you will be steadily building a set of typical user profiles and collecting more and more insight into what your audience wants.
And then, your perfectly targeted content delivers it to them.
You’ll predict their questions — and answer them even before doubts pop up in their minds. Armed with predictions based on keyword research to uncover customer intent, you’ll be able to incorporate an element of psychology into your content, which will impress and delight your customers.
You’ll understand what keywords typed into search engines reveal about user intent, and you can then tailor your content plan to build upon it. Long-tail keywords provide you with even more granular information that allows your content to be specific, relevant and tightly focused on delivering value.
In an earlier column, I explored eight distinct facets of an effective content marketing plan that lets you dominate a niche or market. You can use those principles along with the ones we’ve just discussed to great impact.
But to put the synergistic effect of SEO and content marketing in a nutshell:
Know your customer’s intent, and tailor your content to meet their needs.
This requires an intimate and supportive effort between your SEO and content marketing teams right from the beginning.