Complementary Marketing: The Intersection of SEO and Content Marketing

The power of collaboration shouldn’t be underestimated within online marketing.

Too often we get caught up in the vertical-versus-vertical battle, especially when it comes to promoting our own abilities, results, and services. The reality is the more we work together, the better we all do.

There is a natural symbiosis across all online marketing disciplines. The reason for this is simple: the basic goal of all online marketing is improved visibility and awareness. And the more you drive visibility and awareness to your marketing efforts, the better all other online marketing activities perform. Rand Fishkin calls this the marketing flywheel.

Let’s take a quick look at an example:

If your primary traffic source is from a well-established email list, there are other online marketing channels which will specifically complement and help grow your email marketing efforts.

  • Social Media: Social media marketing will allow you to tap a new audience, drive visibility, and increase your newsletter signups. You’ll be able to interface directly with your audience, track competitors, and build your presence on a new platform.
  • SEO: Higher search engine visibility and rankings will drive day-over-day, week-over-week traffic to bring new and interested eyeballs to your website continually, and thereby increase audience, awareness, and ultimately newsletter signups.
  • Content Marketing: Producing and marketing great content can help you build your online authority, create additional value in your emails, drive signups, and aid retention.

People often underappreciate the ability these verticals have to complement and feed one another. This leads to many wasted opportunities, when both channels are engaged but not fully collaborating.

Working in a tight-knit marketing department taught me the value of collaboration. I’ve time and again seen the complementary nature of different marketing activities. I personally use my SEO skills and background continually to improve my content marketing efforts.

Today I want to talk about two of my favorite online marketing disciplines: SEO and content marketing.

I’ve had a breadth of experience in both, as I spent years as an SEO before I transitioned into content marketing.

Let’s look at three specific examples of how SEO can improve content marketing, across all stages of a campaign.

3 Ways SEO Complements Content Marketing

SEOs have much to offer content marketers.

By very nature SEOs should be optimizers. If you’re creating content, you’ll want someone who has the heart of an optimizer on your team. These are people who will think strategically, analytically, and thoughtfully about how to make the most of your content — for search, but hopefully for people as well.

Let’s look at how an SEO can complement your content marketing initiatives, from start to finish.

Complement #1: Content Ideas, Strategic Planning

SEOs have a variety of skills that should be brought to bear before any content is created.

Specifically, there are two primary tasks SEOs are well-suited for which will aid the content idea generation and exploratory phase.

  1. Analyzing previous content performance, competitor content performance, and determining content gaps/opportunities.

It’s already within an SEO’s purview to know site performance. If an SEO is working on a website, they should be able to speak to well-performing content and pages. If they’re new to the site or project, an audit should be second nature to them.

Similarly, it’s an SEO’s responsibility to have a strong understanding of search competitors, which pages are ranking highly for relevant terms, and competitor content that has performed well (and poorly). If the SEO doesn’t know competitor performance? Again, that information is but an audit away.

One of the most important tasks I have as a content marketer is to determine high-potential opportunities. There is such an incredible amount of noise online that if I’m not strategically thinking before I start creating content, I’m wasting my time. Someone’s already been there, done that, and I’m left adding to the white noise, getting little or nothing in return for my time, energy, creativity, and resource expenditure.

  1. Identifying niche influencers, relevant websites, and promotional opportunities.

SEOs, particularly those with a link-building background, are great at industry/niche investigation.

It’ll be second nature for them to suss out influencers, authoritative and relevant websites, potential partnerships, and linking opportunities.

Having a list of influencers, websites, partnerships, and linking opportunities is fundamental to creating high-potential content. If you want people to engage, share, or promote your content, you need to be able to speak to why they’ll care about your content.To be able to make people care about your content, you need to understand them.

SEOs have both the skillset and experience to effectively and efficiently bring strategic information to the table. It’s absolutely vital to collaborate.

Complement #2: Content Creation, Opportunity

The internet evolves at a pretty fantastic pace. It’s 2015 and content no longer means words written on a page.

The “content” in “content marketing” can mean writing, but it can also mean images, videos, JavaScript, HTML5, flash, etc. etc. The limit is the imagination, budget, and technical support.

The more you invest into content marketing, the more you need to have an SEO involved in content creation.

If your content marketing is restrained to publishing blog posts and sharing through social media, then it’s probably fine to educate your content creator on SEO best practices and have minimal oversight.

If however you’re investing into large content, relying on content marketing to drive company messaging, branding, and top-of-the-funnel marketing, then you need to invest into SEO oversight.

Creating content using SEO best practices doesn’t mean sacrificing user experience. Using SEO best practices simply means not capping the performance of your content from the very beginning.

According to a studyfrom BrightEdge, which analyzed billions of pieces of content across the web, 51 percent of all visitors came from organic search.

You really don’t want to mess up SEO in your content marketing.

Complement #3: Content Promotion, Lifetime Value

Content marketing without marketing is just content.

It’s really that simple. If you’re creating content, but not promoting it properly, your content marketing is likely going to fail. There are exceptions to this rule, sure – but thinking you’re the exception is a terrible mindset in marketing.

Building promotional opportunities into content should be step one in a content marketer’s agenda. Having said that, my past in link-building has prepared me well for a career in content marketing.

Link-building is all about going out, finding where your target audience lives, and promoting your value intelligently with the primary goal of links.

Link-building is a fantastic avenue for promoting your content. Let me explain why.

If you’re successful in building links to your content, it’s a huge win in terms of lifetime visibility, and therefore the lifetime value of the content. Why?

  1. You’ve communicated with another website owner and they liked your content enough to share it with their audience.
    • That’s a potential relationship with a relevant, authoritative brand in your industry.
  2. Google sees that link as a signal of trust and authority, and subsequently rank your content higher in search for terms relevant to the content.

Not only are you driving an initial blast of visibility, recognition, and traffic through links after you initially publish, you’re ensuring the strongest source of lifetime traffic — organic search traffic — is possible for that content.

If you’re strategically creating content based around important industry terms, phrases, and keywords, every link you secure will increase the value of that content.

It’s a win-win-win. You’re creating great content – win. You’re promoting that content to people within your industry and having it shared (linked) – win. You’re ensuring that content will be visible in search – win.

I absolutely love utilizing link-building as a promotional strategy in my content marketing initiatives.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Collaborative marketing is good marketing. You need to stop and consider your goals, opportunities, and overall budget to decide which marketing avenues will create the best results for your company.

Let’s quick throwing rocks at one another and do what we can to work together. The more we work to increase the value of one another, the more everyone wins.

It’s 2015, and no marketing discipline should be done in a bubble. Every online marketing activity should work as a piece of the whole.

Image via Shutterstock.

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