Designers meet SEO series: SEO vs. content marketing

Web designers and developers often work separately from those who focus more on strategy for SEO, paid media, or social media. There are a lot of reasons why this occurs (large companies with independent teams lacking full communication, outsourcing to vendor, etc.), and the separation is easy to understand because these positions utilize different skill sets and are driven by different trends. As a result there are sometimes misunderstandings and questions about what digital strategists do. In a short series of blog posts, I’ll respond to some common questions and misconceptions, providing a little insight into some of the latest best practices and strategies. Up first is the notion that content marketing has taken over SEO.

“SEO is dead. It’s all about content marketing now.”

False. This idea has been floating around for a long time now—even amongst those who work in SEO-focused roles. Google algorithms have changed in the past few years to focus on the quality of content (Google Panda) and the quality of inbound links (Google Penguin), creating a panic that traditional SEO—focusing on keyword research, on page optimization, etc.—is more or less dead. Yes content marketing is growing and is changing the way we think about SEO, but traditional SEO tactics still hold true.

“What is the relationship between content marketing and SEO?”

One cannot happen without the other. You can set up your site to follow all of the SEO best practices (title tags, meta descriptions, fast load times, proper crawling, etc.), but if the content itself isn’t great, not much is likely to happen. Visitors won’t want to read it, won’t be compelled to share it with their connections, and certainly won’t convert on your desired action.

Alternatively you can create great content—videos, interactive tools, the ultimate resource guide for your niche—but if your site is plagued by crawling issues, slow loading times, or is unfriendly to mobile devices then you’ll likely have trouble getting people to find your content at all.

From ExactTarget’s 2014 State of Marketing survey, SEO/SEM and Content Management are among two of the top three strategies being used today. What’s number 1? Data & Analytics, which doesn’t surprise me at all because that data helps fuel the fire for both SEO and Content Management.

What Really Matters

In the end, those tasked with content marketing or SEO have the same goal: reaching the audience. Data from SEO and analytics can help content marketers create content that engages with the target audience. The right content can drive mentions, links, and traffic to the website, which helps SEO. You have to understand your target customer, where they interact online, and what makes them tick. It works wonders when both sides come together.


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