Content marketers are often guilty of creating content to please readers at the expense of neglecting search engines, while SEOs can be found guilty of creating content to please search engines while neglecting the people actually reading the content.
To be truly effective as an online marketer you need a combination of both skillsets. If you write the best content in the world, what good is it if it never gets found?
On the other hand – If you employ the best SEO techniques and generate a ton of traffic, what good is it if the visitors don’t engage your content?
If you focus on combining both skills you’ll end up with wonderfully written content that pleases readers, while at the same time gets found by search engines.
Throughout this post I’m going to discuss how to combine the best of both worlds and find the balance you need to stay competitive in today’s marketing landscape.
Must-Have SEO Skills
SEO is always changing, it’s almost impossible to keep up with unless you make a conscious effort to do so every day. That makes SEO sound intimidating to newcomers, so if you’ve been neglecting it up until this point I fully understand where you’re coming from.
There’s an endless amount of information out there about SEO, but if you focus on what truly matters you can block out all the other stuff. What truly matters are the best practices, and how Google search works.
Be familiar with Google’s best practices
No matter how much SEO changes and evolves over the years, the best practices will always be there. Best practices are a set of rules that define how Google reads and indexes content. How you structure content on and off page should be done following these best practices.
I recommend brushing up on Google’s best practices if you’re unfamiliar with them. While you’re at it, I also strongly recommend watching this short video about how Google search works, which gives you an illustrated view of how Google ranks content.
SEOs aren’t just good at getting content found, they’re good at knowing how to find the kinds of topics people are searching for in the first place. This is done through keyword research.
Knowing what your audience wants is a sure way to deliver the content the need. There are a number of tools that can help you out with this. The first one is Google Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that will help you find keywords people are searching for. You start by searching for one keyword, and Keyword Planner populates a list of suggestions related to the keyword you entered.
Keyword Planner will also show you the average monthly searches for that keyword and tells you how competitive it is to rank for.
Here’s a brilliant SlideShare presentation that will walk you through how to use this tool:
Another free tool I recommend using from time to time is Google Trends’ Hot Searches. Hot Searches is a day-by-day breakdown of the most searched for topics in Google, which you can even narrow down by topic to see what people are searching for in your specific niche.
While I wouldn’t say this tool is as useful as Keyword Planner, it’s still worth keeping an eye on so you can stake out opportunities to create content around highly searched for topics.
If you’ve been focusing strictly on creating content as part of your online marketing strategy, being familiar with Google’s best practices and knowing how to perform keyword research are some must-have SEO skills that you should consider adding to your arsenal.
Must-Have Content Marketing Skills
While SEO anticipates demand through tactics like keyword research, content marketing creates demand through producing content based on the customer’s journey through the buying cycle.
Source: Dragon Search Marketing
Know how to write for people, not search engines
Content Marketing is about thoughtfully creating content for a target audience that is designed to influence that audience and inspire them to take action, resulting in a defined outcome.
Rather than keyword research driving content creation, content marketing is about mapping content to the customer buying cycle, and strategically creating content that provides the information your audience needs to move them along that buying cycle.
The customer buying cycle is shown in the image above. Here’s some more information about each stage.
- Awareness: The potential customer becomes aware of your business, and the products and services you’re selling.
- Consideration: After consuming strategically created content, the potential customer begins to consider making a purchase.
- Conversion: The potential customer is supplied with enough information and is persuaded to make a purchase. They are now a full fledged customer.
- Loyalty: The customer continues to read your content and make repeat purchases.
- Advocacy: The customer has such a great experience with your business that they begin to tell others about you.
So that’s what mapping content to the buying cycle looks like in theory, now let me tell you about how it works in practice. I’m going to share an experience I recently had with a company that took me on a journey through awareness, to purchase, to advocacy solely through their content.
A personal experience
Copyblogger produces some of the best content on the web, in my opinion. At least as far as content marketing and blogging is concerned. Essentially they create content for people who create content and want to learn how to do it better.
Here’s how they used content marketing to move me through the buying cycle.
As someone who creates content, they reeled me in a long time ago with their helpful and engaging blog posts. I was aware of them for a while, not only as a website with a great blog, but as a company that sells WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, and training courses.
Since I kept returning to their site on a daily basis, I couldn’t help but start considering some of their products. Especially since some of their posts are designed around emphasizing the benefits of the things they sell.
It wasn’t until I read this post that I became a customer. I was in need of a new WordPress theme for my site, and a post they published about one of their newly released designs was the nudge I needed to go from consideration to conversion. I read the post and bought the theme almost immediately.
I still visit Copyblogger every day, and because of the excellent experience I’ve had with the product I bought I won’t look anywhere else next time I need to make a similar purchase.
I’m telling you about Copyblogger and my great experience with them right now, which makes me an advocate.
Do you have a better understanding of how content marketing works in practice now? It’s all about writing for people, understanding their needs, and taking them on a journey through the buying cycle.
Combining Content Marketing and SEO
The greatest takeaway I want you to have from this post is how to combine the must-have skills of content marketing and SEO and find a balance between the two.
Here’s what I believe the perfect balance looks like:
- Using keyword research to find the topics your customers are looking for.
- Creating content around those high demand topics that is designed to engage your audience, provide a solution to what they’re looking for, and take them through each stage of the buying cycle.
- While creating and before publishing your content, ensure you’re following Google’s best practices so your content indexed gets indexed appropriately and found by those who need it.
Sounds simple enough, right? It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
If you have any questions or need clarification on anything, please let me know in the comments section.