What Is The Difference Between Content Marketing And SEO?

Content marketing is frequently seen as a separate part of the SEO process, when in fact they are two parts of the same picture. But what is it about content marketing that has proved itself so valuable to SEO practice?
  • Every element of what we do at Go Up is rooted in content creation.
  • If content is good enough, it will get shared of its own accord.
  • The best content tells a story, and should never read like an Advertorial.

As London’s top SEO agency, Go Up has always been at the forefront of developments in the field of digital marketing. One major facet of this is our dedication to writing high quality content for authoritative, high quality websites, which forms an integral part of our client strategy. In the most simple definition possible, this is content marketing.

However, content marketing is frequently seen as a separate part of the SEO process, when in fact they are two parts of the same picture. When searching for “content marketing SEO”, the results page paints an interesting picture of how people have come to understand both SEO and content marketing.

It is particularly interesting how this understanding has changed over time. Results from around 2012 featured articles with titles like: “Is content marketing the new SEO?” and “The time for content marketing is now!”, as if these two practices are mutually exclusive. More recent results offer a more balanced insight with articles titled: “Why SEO is actually all about content marketing” and “Content Marketing vs SEO: the truth behind a ridiculous debate.”

So what is it about content marketing that has proved itself so valuable to the SEO process?

First of all, what is content?

Written content is only one of Go Up’s selling points; every element of what we do is rooted in content creation. Infographics? Content. Videos? Content marketing. Good design or UX? Well, when was the last time you unironically shared a good article on a rubbish-looking website?

To paraphrase The Lego Movie, everything is content. Indeed, many marketers have cited that film as one of the most lucrative examples of content marketing ever. The Guardian described The Lego Movie’s approach to content marketing as “different in part because it is the brand as a whole rather than a specific set of characters that are popularised each time someone watches the film.” The film’s success had the desired effect of making Lego the world’s largest toy company, toppling Mattel’s Barbie empire not long after its release.

But Lego played the content marketing long game decades before they branched out into movie franchises. By diversifying their output into separate franchises with their own “plotlines”, and adopting online channels to promote them (not to mention theme parks), they made themselves far more visible than their direct competitors. Lego saw corners of the wider market that were untapped, and rushed to occupy them. In a sense, it’s not all that much different from what Go Up does for our clients with our written content, finding unexplored angles to create a conversation (and attract links) to our clients.

lego content marketing

Content marketing is not SEO

They’re two parts of the same process, but there are differences. Careful research and technical SEO may be what determines the keywords that will get your site seen on Google, but to get maximum use from those keywords outside of simple site optimisation, content marketing is the best strategy. This content needs to be good in order to keep your site ranking high, but it also needs to be updated and cited regularly by other platforms.

Social shares are becoming increasingly significant when it comes to boosting search engine visibility. According to this 2016 survey, 20% of all social media messages include a link to some sort of content — looking through your own social profiles will almost certainly back that up. And if that shared content is hosted on a responsive website, it doesn’t matter what device you’re looking at it on—particularly now that 65% of digital content is accessed on mobile.

As for Go Up and the content itself, we cut out the middleman by researching and writing much of our clients’ onsite content ourselves. This presents the client as the thought leader or an online authority in their field.

If the content is good enough, it will get shared of its own accord. Much of our onsite blog content requires detailed keyword research: We work out the most searched-for queries to determine to the best phrases to use. These pieces not only then provide versatile linking fodder for future articles, but could become authoritative enough in the eyes of Google to warrant an answer box in the relevant results pages.

Remember your readers are people too

Just because your writing needs to go down well with an algorithm, that shouldn’t prevent it from being compelling and readable as well. One thing which is increasingly mentioned in content marketing circles is the need for editorial content to appeal to its readers as people, engaging and building a relationship with them on an emotional level.

Even the editor of Buzzfeed—arguably the kings of shareable content—feels this way. Despite his site’s fondness for a good list, his aim is to make those posts the framework for some kind of narrative: “what matters is not the list itself, but that it has good stuff in it.”

Listicles are great content when they’re suitable — but not every client slots naturally into a into an article featuring a bunch of pictures of cats. There needs to be a coherent narrative throughline in any article, listicle or otherwise. That means for most of our clients, current affairs and popular trends are the best anchor when it comes to writing new blog posts.

What makes good content?

The best content tells a story, and should never read like an Advertorial.

It helps to have a very clear understanding of your readers. The concept of customer personas is as important in context of onsite and link-building posts as it is for social media. Get an idea of the demographics of your client’s customers, and use this information to ensure your content is as engaging as it can possibly be to its target audience. No ones wants to write for an uninterested reader.