If you want to understand what content marketing is and why it is important, you should first get familiar with SEO.
SEO relates to your website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), which in turn affect how you attract visitors or increase traffic to your website. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it does precisely what its’ name suggests. It optimizes your website for search engines such as Google, Bing, Brave, or Yandex. What do we mean by optimizes? It makes them rank higher in the search results of any given browser. SEO focuses on improving your ranking organically. In other words, the aim is to have your website appear on the first page of a search result without you having to pay for it. But how? Well, one of the SEO components is content, which is why content marketing is an essential part of successful SEO.
What is content marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing in the following way:
“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.”
If your audience deems your information to be clever, valuable, and relevant, then you’ve succeeded at content marketing.
How is content marketing beneficial?
Let’s say that your audience is looking for answers on Google and finds your website among the first results. They find all the answers they were looking for in your free and creative content. You have now succeeded in helping them understand more about the topic they were interested in. Consequently, your business becomes the expert in that particular field, as far as they’re concerned. Why does that matter? Because now they trust your expertise, so they will keep coming back to your site for answers and buy your products or services. In other words, content marketing enables you to build a relationship with your audience, and what’s more, that relationship is based on trust.
How does it relate to SEO?
OK, so we’ve established how it can help attract and retain visitors to your website, but now we’re going to explain how it affects SEO.
The first thing you need to understand is that it is not only the users who visit your website and read your content. Search engines such as Google do that as well (through something called crawlers or user agents). Why? Your ranking largely depends on how these user agents perceive your website. According to Google’s Webmaster Manual, your website should cater to your users, and as such, any optimization should be geared towards improving the user experience.
In order to score better with search engines such as Google, your website content needs to be fresh and unique. If Google crawlers identify your content as duplicate, you run the risk of poor ranking, which, in turn, makes you less discoverable on SERPs.
What types of content marketing are there?
The most obvious and easiest one to start with is a blog, much like the one you’re reading right now. Content marketers use blogs to share their knowledge, opinions, and experiences with their audience. However, blogs aside, there are many other content marketing forms such as videos, podcasts, quizzes, events, e-books, and many more. Content creation can be time-consuming and even expensive sometimes, but it does pay off in the long run. Additionally, content marketing requires frequent updating and publishing, so you might consider hiring an in-house content creator if you’re not up for the task yourself.
It appears that there is plenty of information out there suggesting that content marketing and SEO are two very different things. That they somehow ‘compete’ for Google’s attention. This simply isn’t true.
Content marketing and SEO go together hand in hand. In fact, we can say that one is nothing without the other. For instance, linkbacks are a huge part of SEO, but in order to get a link back, you need content that’s worth linking. Similarly, it is practically impossible to have good SEO without fresh content. Your website might tick all the other SEO boxes, but without content, it simply isn’t enough.