How do content marketing and SEO work together?

Content and SEO are two peas in a marketing performance pod

So, how do content and SEO work together? SEO is a core part of your overall content marketing strategy. The insights you get when you develop an SEO strategy (keywords, customer segments, search intent) are all used to inform your content strategy.

Content marketing is basically blogging, right? While blogging is a core part of an integrated content marketing strategy, there’s much more to it than posting a few optimised blog posts and a cute picture of a cat.

In this guide, we’re going to explain to you how we at 42group join together the fundamentals of content marketing and SEO to deliver integrated solutions for our clients. We call it content-first SEO and it’s the best strategy to deliver sustainable success.

What is content marketing?

We define content marketing this way:

Content marketing is online material created to help boost the profile of your brand and build connections with customers and clients without aggressively promoting your brand. 

Content marketing involves sharing the same messages across multiple channels, including:

  • Blogs
  • Branded content (Ebooks, whitepapers, lead magnets)
  • Social media
  • PPC
  • Newsletters

In 2023, we have to take a broader view of what content marketing is. Nowadays, content also includes audio and visual components, including:

  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Animations

While you may not choose to use each of these channels to engage your audience, they’re part of the digital marketing mix and should be kept firmly at the front of your mind when you’re looking at

Want to know more about content marketing? Read 42group’s ultimate guide to content marketing where you’ll find (almost) everything you need to know.

What is content-first SEO?

We’re going to treat you with the respect you deserve and not go into the fundamentals of what search engine optimisation is and why you need it. (Here’s a good primer if you need one from the experts at Search Engine Land).

As a content agency, we approach SEO from a customer perspective. We’re not going to go into the technical details of SEO (website speed on-site optimisation, backlink building, etc.) These are specialist services that you’ll want to commission from a dedicated SEO specialist.

When we talk about a content-first approach to SEO, we’re focusing on how content can help you improve your ranking, build your brand, and engage your audience.

Content isn’t something you can separate from SEO, it’s the engine room that drives your ranking performance. Without content, your SEO efforts will fail – and that’s a fact. Simply put, without content, your site won’t rank.

Content is the fuel that powers the performance of your website. An integrated content strategy that’s customer-driven will help your website, business, and brand achieve its potential.

How? Let’s look at how content marketing helps SEO.

How content marketing helps SEO

So, we’ve described what content marketing is and our customer-first approach to SEO. Now, we’re going to explain how we use each channel strategically to improve search engine performance.

Before you start sharpening your pencil (or putting your fingers to keys), we only develop our channel mix when we have a deep understanding of the audience we’re writing for. This is a non-negotiable part of the content marketing process. We’ve provided a basic outline about how we define content marketing audiences in our guide, and it’s something we’ll be exploring in future guides – so keep checking back.

Once you’ve identified your audience, defined your keywords, and caught up with what your competitors are doing, you can start building the best mixture of content channels for SEO.

Here’s what each channel does and how using it can contribute to your overall SEO strategy and business success.

Blogs – the engine room of successful SEO

When most people think about content, they’re actually thinking about blogs. It’s true that blogs are a critical part of every SEO strategy. In fact, content operates as the engine room of any successful SEO strategy.

Why? Because regularly updated content with value is a critical ranking factor for Google (and other search engine providers). How they do it, we don’t know – but we know that Google assesses all content in four ways. It’s called E-E-A-T, and it stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

When creating content, posting a 500-word blog every couple of weeks isn’t going to be enough. Instead, you need to develop a customer-driven SEO strategy that delivers genuine value for every reader.

Before we go too far into the detail, check out some of our guides and blogs to help you learn more about blogs for SEO:

The lesson here is that if you’re not blogging, you’re never going to achieve your SEO aims.

At 42group, we understand the power and potential of blogs to supercharge your SEO efforts. We produce high-quality content for businesses and brands in all sectors, helping them to identify suitable search terms and create content that delivers sustainable business success.

“Our systems analyse the content to assess whether it contains information that might be relevant to what you are looking for.” Google, How results are automatically generated.

Branded content – Inspiring your audience

Branded content typically covers a range of resources, including Ebooks, whitepapers, lead magnets. Previously, these would be used as gated content, teased out to your audience, and delivered as a PDF – but not anymore.

Doing this removes any SEO value from it. All the work you’ve put in, and you receive no benefit (boo!).

So, gated content is out. Instead, at 42group (and most SaaS businesses), we put all of our content online and make it accessible to anyone for absolutely nothing. That means anyone and everyone with access to the internet can click on our blogs or into our category pages and get access to all our content.

Why do we do this? Gated content gives us no SEO boost, and most visitors don’t want to share their email addresses with us. We’re happy to give away our content for free, as it demonstrates the quality of work we produce and provides an effective stream of new clients (like you, hopefully!).

Your marketing team might start scratching their heads (or getting a bit scared) if you’re giving away content for free. So how can you use content for SEO and lead gen? Landing pages!

Landing pages enable businesses to capture information on visitors while engaging them with your content. It’s easy to build custom landing pages on your website or by using SaaS landing page builder like Mailchimp, Unbound, or Hubspot. (We don’t have any affiliation with these providers, but we have used them before, and they’re easy enough to use and create effective landing pages.)

Of course, you can continue to produce gated content and publish the old way, but you’re not giving your site any SEO juice, and that’s what this guide is all about!

Social media – Going direct to customers

Social media is a vital channel for content marketing, and if you’re not integrating it into your content marketing plans, you’re missing out.

We’re looking at the impact on content on SEO here, so we’ll be clear that social media activity doesn’t directly impact search. But it can benefit your business, and boost your website, in ways that will definitely increase your search engine position.

  • Social media amplifies reach, providing an enthusiastic, engaged, and global audience for your content
  • B2B businesses can use LinkedIn (yes it’s a social media channel) to directly target potential customers
  • Social media can extend your content distribution lifespan, enabling you to generate the maximum amount of benefit from every blog
  • Likes and shares are social proof, providing a powerful signal about your brand
  • Social links can help website page indexing, ensuring Google is seeing, scanning, and ranking your content

So, while social media doesn’t directly contribute to your SEO ranking, it’s a powerful channel for brand building and content sharing, which can. Don’t ignore social media in your SEO-focused content strategy.

The positive thing is that you can use all the information and intelligence on your audience, as well as the keywords you’ve identified, to create engaging social posts. Just remember to temper self-promotion and SEO content with sharing and conversation, core parts of the social media experience.

PPC – Generating clicks, smashing sales

PPC and SEO are two cost centres vying for a business’s digital marketing budget. SEO is a long game with results taking months or even years to deliver results. What you’re doing is investing in sustainable success for your business or brand.

PPC is all about capturing clicks, You set your budget, define your audience, and wait for the clicks to come in. You just have to hope your budget delivers enough clicks to justify the expense, but that’s a blog we’ll put on the backburner for today.

What you do need to ensure is that your ads and content (driven by SEO) are the same. That means the tone of voice, focus, and pain points are all the same.

Readers will spot any disconnect between your ads and content. At 42group, we create PPC ads as part of a complete SEO content strategy. We’ll provide several permutations, enabling you to A/B or even A/B/C test until you find what works.

We’ll also provide clear instructions on pages, content, and contacts to include as links. We’re Google Partners and use the latest tools, technologies, and approaches to help generate clicks and convert them to customers.

Newsletters – Brand building

Newsletters are pretty old school, and while they won’t provide a clear boost for SEO, you can use them to highlight core pieces of content and capture clicks from customers.

We’re not going to focus on newsletters here. But we will do so in a future blog – which we’ll link here when we write it.  

Content marketing & SEO – It starts and ends with strategy

Successful SEO is informed by data, inspired by customers, and driven by strategy. Your content marketing output must be 100% focused on your audience and deliver value. While SEO is about identifying search intent, the best strategies scratch beneath the surface to identify what’s motivating your customers because it’s the best way to capture clicks.

Want to know more? Read our Ultimate guide to content for SEO, or contact us for a no-obligation chat.

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Content marketing and SEO FAQs

SEO and content are huge areas in digital marketing, and we can never hope to answer every question, but we’ve done some research and collated some of the common questions we’re asked (and answered them, obviously).

What is content marketing SEO?

Content marketing SEO is the strategic use of digital marketing channels, including your blog, to increase search engine performance. To achieve this, you must develop a deep understanding of your customers and use this to develop keyword-driven content ideas and campaigns.

How to do content marketing SEO?

Content marketing for SEO is a sequential process that involves developing a clear, customer-driven strategy that powers growth. It begins by building a picture of your customers, understanding what motivates them and what they are searching for (keywords!). You’ll also want to explore what key competitors are doing.

Only by developing this knowledge can you create a content marketing strategy that delivers sustainable SEO results. At the heart of that is content that adds value, is 100% original, and matches search intent. It’s all about strategic content.

How do you use content marketing for SEO?

See above! Effective content agencies (like 42group) will help you develop a content marketing strategy that provides value for customers and website visitors. Yes, you can focus on the technical aspects of blog posts, but if your content is poorly written, it will have no impact on search engine outcomes.

Create 100% original content that delivers value for every visitor.

Is content important for SEO?

Content is critical to SEO in 2023. In fact, regular content across all channels, including your blog, social media, and web pages, is the best way to increase your ranking. While you’ll also need to optimise the performance of your site and deliver a fast and rewarding user-experience, content can act as the differentiator in an increasingly competitive environment.

Is content marketing worth it?

Absolutely! Content marketing is critical if your business wants to achieve its objectives. Sure, a regular stream of high-quality content helps you to improve search engine performance, but it can also help to increase sales, optimise the user-experience, and deliver greater value for your customers.

If you’re not investing in content marketing, your band isn’t going to achieve its full potential. It’s that simple.

How often do I need to blog to rank?

Industry experts (including the 42group content pros) estimate that you should aim to publish a high-quality blog post 1-2 times every week. But that’s just the basics. Learn more about how often you should blog for SEO in our detailed blog (yes, there’s a blog for that…).

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