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Content Marketing and SEO: How They Work Together to Drive Traffic

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO service, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. According to the same article, SEO is the second most frequently used tactic in content marketing, right after blogging. This shows that while SEO can be used with any type of content, it is most effective when used with content marketing. This is because content marketing is more involved with providing consumers with the information they are already looking for. When successful, content marketing will cause the consumer to enter a conversation with the business/brand without selling. Since consumers are already searching for the information, as long as the content marketing is providing that information, the site has a good chance of consumers finding the content. This is where SEO comes into play. Since consumers will be looking for the information via search engines, the goal is to have the content marketing material be easily found using internet searches. With effective SEO, there is a greater chance of the content being found.

What is content marketing? Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and ultimately to drive profitable customer action. Essentially, the goal of content marketing is to do business in a way that is not intrusive. If successful, businesses will create a need in consumers for the product or service offered. According to an article on content marketing by the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of consumers would rather get information about a company or learn something from an article or blog post rather than from a traditional advertisement.

Content marketing and SEO are the most effective digital marketing techniques that can be used today. The two are not mutually exclusive, but when they are combined in an integrated marketing plan, they can be very effective in increasing traffic and sales for your website.

Definition of Content Marketing

Content marketing is the planning, creation, distribution, and publishing of content to reach your target audience. While it can be done through various methods, it is most effective on your own website. Having a hub for your marketing content, such as a blog, is critical to the success of content marketing. This is usually the place you will drive all your traffic to, making it the center of your content for marketing. All of your content is original, rooted in a brand’s expertise, and is aimed at providing value to prospective customers. It should be informative, not persuasive, while ultimately leading to a sale. Content marketing is about the long-term commitment. It is the slow and steady wins the race. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it. In other words, you still remain the catalyst for the message, and the message is still about your brand and your content. But the goal is to not be an interruption. The goal is to provide info that has been sought after, and allowing the consumer to find themselves. This is the way to a stronger connection with your consumers, which will result in an increase in brand loyalty. The ultimate aim is to develop a healthy relationship that will result in an increase in sales and brand advocacy.

Definition of SEO

A brief comparison of the two concepts is that SEO is focusing more on the website being optimized to rank highly in search engines, i.e. getting more traffic. Whereas content marketing is more focused on successfully communicating with customers outside of a conventional direct sales approach.

SEO comes in two forms: on-page and off-page. On-page SEO consists of anything on the actual page that is used to rank higher. This includes the content, HTML, and architecture of the site. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, improves the site ranking by using techniques that increase the visibility of the site. An example of an SEO tactic would be link building. This simply involves putting links on other sites with relevant anchor text to the page you wish to rank. This will increase the page’s rank on search engines because one of the most important factors in ranking high is having a large number of high-quality links.

The aim of SEO is to rank highly in the SERPs (search engine results pages), preferably number one because we know from stats provided that between 20% and 30% of searchers will click on the first result and about 60% of clicks go to the first three results. This is beneficial because traffic on any web page usually correlates with the cost and resources that have been put into it. Therefore, a site which is primarily using SEO traffic will pay off for the company, especially if the site ranks high for multiple different keywords. This disproves the theory on the left that says money can’t buy everything, because with time and investment, a company can get to the top of the ratings and the benefits of being number one are vast.

Benefits of Content Marketing and SEO Integration

Enhanced brand visibility To understand the idea of enhanced brand visibility, we need to understand where your brand is being viewed in the first place. Organic SEO is probably the most powerful way to reach potential customers. When someone makes a search in Google that is relevant to your business, you want to be there. The best way to make this happen is by creating quality content that is relative to your business. This could be a series of how-to guides, or just a collection of blog posts. If it’s good and optimized correctly, it will often work well over a long period of time. An example of this can be seen when comparing the amount of traffic we get for people searching something to do with SEO and the article on SEO we created last year. We get a far higher volume of traffic for the former. This article is one of the ways that potential customers have found our brand, and it gives us a good opportunity to convert that visitor into a sale.

Increased organic traffic Advertising software firm, WordStream, conducted a study involving a number of small and medium-sized businesses to explore the impact of integrated content marketing and SEO on businesses. The study settled on the notion that implementing tactics from both SEO and content marketing have a much broader effect than working with just one. It was found that employing both can have a 25% higher average CTR when a brand had two listings on the same keyword. The keyword here is that the 2 listings were from an ad being run and the business’s organic listing. Although this isn’t specifically stating an increase in organic traffic, it does imply that when a user searches a keyword related to a business, that they are more likely to click on the ad and/or the business’s listing.

Increased Organic Traffic

The main purpose of content marketing is to raise awareness, and as a result, it is used in the early stages of the buying cycle. This is why content marketing has an excellent opportunity to increase traffic. By using SEO and content marketing together, you can attract high converting traffic (Think with Google, 2012). Evolving the virtual content can show what the audience wants. Understanding what the audience wants to learn and know is important. Using SEO data to discover the most popular searches, you can align your content to meet the demand. It’s not just about drafting a new title or a meta description. The content itself has to be upgraded. This means existing content also has to be revisited and refreshed if it doesn’t meet the expectation. A study by Smart Insights shows that the main content marketing activity for 2013 was an increase in original content creation. This was the top priority for both B2B and B2C marketers at 39%. 79% of search engine users say they always/frequently click on the natural search results. This shows that effective original content and the right SEO work gets noticed. According to B2B Content Marketing – 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, 93% of B2B marketers are using content marketing. An efficient way to increase organic traffic is to create shareable content. If many quality websites link to your content, it will naturally rank higher in search results. This is a process, but if successful, this can significantly improve the amount of referral and search traffic to your page. As the quantity and quality of content grows, incremental or marginal changes will lead to substantial increases in traffic.

Enhanced Brand Visibility

By creating content that ties a service or product offered to a key phrase, one has a higher chance of increasing that brand’s visibility for the long term through content and SEO. An example of this would be a blog or article written for a client with the intention of creating content that ranks for that keyword topic. A higher rank for this content ensures that viewers searching for that topic will be able to find that content and, in turn, increase the likelihood that the viewers will associate the content with the brand. This can also be accomplished with on-page optimization of content that is more related to the brand itself.

In the same way that working together in content marketing and SEO integration increases organic traffic, it follows that it will also increase brand visibility. Content marketing is a useful tool for increasing brand visibility by incorporating a brand into content. For example, a company that sells tennis equipment may write a blog about how to improve your tennis game. A solopreneur building their business who teaches a tennis class would contribute to the blog and could mention that they are a coach and provide a backlink to their services page. At this point, both the solopreneur and the company selling equipment have used the blog as a method to increase their brand visibility. An organic food delivery company could write a similar article and share it on social media with a link to an organic energy snack that they sell. This could pique the interest of tennis players who are their target demographic and direct them to the website.

Investing in procuring a search engine rank via SEO and content marketing can result in an increase in brand visibility. Essentially, this means that it is a measure of how recognizable a brand is within a community or demographic. There are many different ways to measure brand visibility, some of which are more quantifiable than others. The most basic measure of brand visibility is to simply search for the brand name and see what comes up. If the brand does not at least hold the first result for its own name, there is work to be done. Another measure would be the percentage of organic traffic that is directed to a site when searching for a key phrase specific to the brand. Brand visibility is important for newer businesses that are trying to establish a name for themselves in an industry. In order to compete with pre-existing competitors, a new business must be able to get their brand seen and heard.

Improved User Experience

There are many ways that these two features work together to provide organizations with greater search engine rankings. In the aforementioned point regarding using less advertising and more value, there is an ultimate need for high-quality content to fuel a successful SEO strategy. Content marketing is the perfect way to start building links to your website. At the core of an effective link-building campaign is the creation of content that people will want to link to. Article marketing is a tried and tested method of building links, and while there are many conflicting opinions on whether it is advisable to use article marketing post-Panda, it can be an extremely effective strategy when it is used properly. By producing high-quality articles that are distributed around the web, more traffic will be directed to your website and your brand will establish itself as a key authority in your niche. In simpler words, this is the basic goal of an effective SEO strategy. In addition to this, the use of press releases can garner more attention for a brand, and considering that press releases are essentially content telling people about a brand, there is no reason why this cannot play a role in an SEO strategy. The only difference is that with SEO press releases, there is an added emphasis on keywords and the release is distributed with the intention of getting the announcement to appear in top search engine rankings. This can bring quick visibility to a brand.

Strategies for Integrating Content Marketing and SEO

Keyword research and optimization is more than just using the Google Ad Word Keyword Planner to find keywords for your web content. It is important to focus on three types of keywords: head, body, and long tail. Head keywords are single-word searches, while long tails are four (4) words or more. It is generally a better strategy to target long-tail keywords. They have a lower search volume, but the person searching will be more specifically targeted. This means that they are more likely to find what they are looking for, which is your content. Long-tail keywords also have less competition and are therefore easier to rank in. When choosing which keywords to target, it is important to look at the present competition and search volume. Avoid targeting keywords that have a large search volume but high competition, as it can be very difficult to rank for them. Instead, aim to find a similar keyword that has lower competition. It is also a good idea to approach the keywords semantically, rather than sticking to one word or phrase. This can allow you to capture more traffic than you would have by only targeting one keyword. Step two is using those keywords, with a specific focus on one, to create a content hierarchy for a specific page. Peattie and Peattie (2003) state that content hierarchy is defined as organizing the information you want to convey based on the relative importance and interrelationship of the content elements. They depict it as a pyramid, with the most important information as the peak of the pyramid. This is important because it creates a clear objective for what the page is about and what the reader should take away from it. Finally, the third step is to create a compelling opening paragraph for your page. This is what will tell your reader if they are in the right place and if they should spend the time to read your content.

Keyword Research and Optimization

Keyword research is the backbone to both content marketing and SEO strategies as they are essential when strategizing the content and promoting it. The purpose of churning out good content is for it to be found. Initiating a research without a theory is essentially equivalent to gambling. More often than not, visitors directly behave towards the expected results and good SEO can enable the IT solutions to understand user behaviour. The key here is to identify and understand the needs of the potential audience “dress” who are the students” in context of importance. High focused keywords of “cheap MBA courses” intended for parents with sons/daughters or part-time students can be used. Doing so increases the likelihood of more relevant leads. One major element for an effective keyword research is to always analyze competitors. Usually when a user is tasked with a research it is common for the user to try out several related search queries and/or bookmark the pages that seem close to what they wanted. Creating a mix of broad and specific query contents can capture these users as well as a better understanding of the subject. Once we have identified the right keyword mix, optimization is usually easier for it is to mold the content appropriately to better suit the keywords. The keywords should also act as the backbone of any content written. A rough rule of thumb is around 250 to 300 words based on search results from IT solutions. This can vary for different themed topics. For a technology-related topic about printers, the keyword “refilling printer ink” is bound to show Do-It-Yourself guides and thus a longer article. The same keyword can also show articles on the pros and cons of refilling over getting it done at print shops.

Creating High-Quality and Relevant Content

Similar changes represent a big to look for of similarity to too many pages on the available internet patterned up to make the article show up results. Creating a piece of writing that’s optimized for a keyword that’s closely associated with what the addition is about represents the first step you have to take. Coming up with a new article and simply sprinkling it with the keyword an a few times definitely does not provide enough to make it represent the best in terminology of SEO content. An article does not necessarily need to be written more than once if it has a particularly long keyword phrase. This can represent detrimental as the same keyword too many times on too many articles represents a red flag to a search engine that the content may represent a duplicate and thus unworthy of sorting top results. High quality content that provides answers to questions is usually content that will automatically be using optimization techniques as the author will be providing good information in an attempt to make the specific article rank well.

On-Page Optimization Techniques

The second step to on-page optimization is an easy and fulfilling task of organizing the site and its content to appeal to users and engines alike. This can be done by structuring the site’s content with the use of title tags, header tags, and meta descriptions including the aforementioned keyword targeting. URLs should also be constructed to be simple, static, and include keywords relevant to the page and not exceed 100 characters in length. Finally, internal linking is key to distributing page authority throughout the site, as well as creating defined paths for spiders to crawl information. It will also help lead users to relevant and additional content.

First, it is the most important goal to ensure that the content is not only relevant and up-to-date, but also that it is rich with keywords and descriptive phrases. To achieve this, all on-page content should focus on one to two long-tail keywords and include related or similar words and phrases. Because Hummingbird is now placing more emphasis and serving better results on the use of natural language and conversation, content should aim to provide answers to the probable questions the user is seeking to have satisfied. If these answers are clear and easy to locate, this increases the probability of search engines using your content as a direct answer to a specific search inquiry. In addition, content should be consistently updated to continue to meet the needs of search query changes and to ensure consistent rankings.

Case Studies: Successful Examples of Content Marketing and SEO Integration

In 2008, computer part retailer NewEgg offered a glimpse into the interconnectedness of social media and SEO. They performed a “branding and exclusive product launch campaign” designed to tell people an “effective story” and greatly improve branding and mind share. Similar to Company A in that they produced original content (albeit largely marketing-oriented) in the quest to improve their search engine results. During the campaign, they posted an article a day on a blog subdomain “Moxy” and also utilized several podcasts, videos, and other multimedia for 14 days. As a result, they got the jump on the rest of the net with “issues and items that were unique” and solidified their brand presence in the minds of many consumers. This resulted in a 31% increase in branded traffic and many first-time visitors returning and converting later. Although it was difficult to say whether the specific content itself received increased viewership, it was noted that the unique topics and materials were more heavily linked, and NewEgg would then later leverage the “linkbait” campaign into bettering the non-branded search results for computer parts, increasing traffic from organic search results by 20% in the following months. Although NewEgg’s case was successful, there are concerns that the short-term focus and heavy brand-oriented deal may have been a boost to direct and branded traffic but was not ideal for SEO in the long run. Matt Cutts (head SEO personality at Google) expressed these concerns with search engine representatives, saying “We obviously want to encourage the creation of high-quality sites and try to discourage low-quality sites, including things like shallow or low-quality content, or short-term un-organic methods that are aimed at generating traffic.” Nonetheless, NewEgg’s case represents a solid push for improving brand position with content, and the results are undeniable in traffic boost and brand mind share.

Company A: Driving Traffic through Blogging and SEO

SEO has changed the web, and this simple hierarchy of blog writing with keyword density and instance linking is still highly effective for anything with static indexes on the web today.

Carl has thoroughly researched the software in order to write these blogs and convinced Dan to reword some of the content/pages on the software website to add tolerable keyword densities in anchor text. This will be used for linking the blog content to the website. This will help with the indexing of the blog and software website, increasing the possibilities of higher traffic referred from search engines. This example demonstrates the full potential of SEO and taking a data-driven approach to maximize results.

Now, combined with off-page text-driven content marketing and continued SEO maintenance, this has become a perfect example of the integration of data-driven concepts, emphasizing the combined utilization of SEO and content marketing (Egan, glucose, 2012, September 21).

Dun-Rite Software, a company, built a website for a new software release and wanted to drive the highest possible traffic to increase sales. The company’s president, Dan Milosevich, took on the responsibility of learning about search engine optimization instead of hiring a firm. He hired Carl Geier, a blogger and freelance writer, to write a series of articles on the software release. Carl would be posting twice a week on the blog.

When a software company, mainly focused on development, wants to promote their product website, they may not search for a search engine optimization firm, assuming they understand the significance of SEO. However, they may not be on the right path to fully utilize SEO’s potential. This is where the integration of content marketing and SEO comes into play.

Let me show you how SEO and content marketing play an important role in driving traffic. SEO is a very well-known and widely used marketing tool. It is used to make a website highly searchable and improve the usability of the website. SEO directly affects the website’s ranking, making it easily accessible to visitors.

Company B: Leveraging Social Media and SEO for Traffic Generation

The long-term strategy was to shift focus towards social promotion and integrate it with SEO. This involved prioritizing content on social platforms, as the benefits of engaging with the audience and driving traffic could be seen in the long run. Success in SEO could be measured by monitoring trends in organic traffic generated by the content.

The second case study concerns Company B, a B2B organization providing industrial supplies on a global scale. Regarding on-page strategies, there was a focus on optimizing the company’s website. The team responsible for this effort needed to analyze the long-term results of specific content on social media platforms and its potential impact on SEO. Social data was used to influence search engine crawlers by incorporating key phrases or embedding links in social posts. With this knowledge, the social team aimed to target specific keywords or products to increase the likelihood of their content appearing in search results. This was an important discovery, as it helped identify instances of over-optimization or linking to low-quality content. By promoting relevant content on social platforms, the engagement rate of posts or content increased, leading to more relevant landing pages and ultimately achieving success. One of the key findings in on-page SEO was that meta-data no longer played a significant role. Making changes to the title or description had a faster impact on social platforms through the URLs shared in social posts.

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