SEO and Content Marketing are Living Happily Ever After
There’s a fairy tale, and it’s a big one, that all you need to land on Google’s page one is strategic SEO (search engine optimization) along with tons of keywords. There’s another tale that content marketing and SEO are somehow separate—that they compete with each other. Maybe that was true a few years ago, but today it’s an old school story.
To best benefit your business’s online efforts, SEO and content marketing (communicating with people without selling to inspire, educate and/or entertain) must work together. Because today, search and find is all about intention.
Think of it this way: Google (there are other search engines, of course, but Google is always in the lead) continually develops and tweaks algorithms that rank websites. They send out spiders to crawl the web, and rank sites based on a bunch of factors (things like site speed, quality of content, user experience, backlinks, design, etc.). If the spiders do a happy dance and like what they see, the site moves up in the rankings. The spiders really like original content that is of value and solves a problem for humans. When that happens, there’s a match that solves the problem and the searcher’s intention has been satisfied.
Search is getting smarter
While content marketing and SEO are both tools in your promotional arsenal, they haven’t always worked together. Today, in part because search engines and consumers and technology are all getting smarter, you simply won’t rank high without quality content. Google used to collect data based on keywords and ranked sites based on keyword numbers. So gone are the days when keyword stuffing and links shot your website to the top. Keywords and links are still important, but Google now looks for meaning.
Try googling “how to kill a spider.” Back in the day, you’d likely see pest control services or companies hawking bug spray to show up on page one. Today, WikiHow, Huff Post and the Smithsonian get top billing? Why? Because Google’s machines now understand that you’re a human who likely already knows how to buy bug spray, and because Google wants to be your first choice to solve any problem, they’re working hard to give you the best answer first. So you get a step-by-step guide to killing spiders, which is what you asked for, right?
Right. As you relate that search to your business, ask yourself: “Do my SEO and content match my customers’ – and potential customers’ – intentions?
Intention is everything
People go to Google (or Bing or Yahoo or Ask) because they’re looking for something. They have an intention, whether it’s learning how to kill a spider, or start their own business, or find out who won the Oscars.
Search behavior is a process. Let’s go with the spider killing analogy. Once they’ve entered their search terms, “how to kill a spider” people will know almost immediately if the results have satisfied their intention, of if they need to search again. This is what you should be thinking about as your create your strategy. Does your SEO, using keywords and content, lead people to your site, where you can begin to convert them? Here are some tips:
Your search and content match
Whether people come to your site from Google or a Facebook ad or a tweet (your promoted content) they likely already have some expectation about you based on their search, because you’ve messaged them in some way that they’ve interpreted as a fit for their intentions. If your Facebook ad or metatags said, “I kill spiders faster than anyone else on the planet,” then whatever that ad or tag links to had better prove it. Otherwise, they’ll click away and find a more attractive spider-killer.
You are what and who you say you are
All of us have clicked on a site and within seconds, said whoa, and hit the back button (thinking something like I wasn’t talking about THAT kind of spider) because the page we landed on wasn’t what we expected, and in fact looked a little shady. Visitors to your site need to see that you’re worthy of their trust. Content such as customer stories and testimonials, along with contact information and a well-designed site, communicate that you’re a credible expert.
You’re the right fit for their intention
Your content says, yes, I am the best spider killer in all the land, and I’d like to contact you again in the future to be sure you remain spider-free. They like you, because after all, you’ve killed their spider and they’re pretty sure there will be another spider in their future. You collect an email address and SEO and content marketing live happily ever after.