How To Make SEO And Content Marketing Work Together For Business Growth
For this Guest Article, I invite Rodney Laws, Ecommerce Expert and Editor at Ecommerce Platforms to share his vision on SEO and content marketing helping business growth.
Image credit: Pixabay
By the time you seek to grow a business — as opposed to establishing it — you’ve locked down the fundamentals. Your underlying operation is in place, your processes are clearly defined, your products and/or services are profitable, and you have some happy customers ready to support you. To grow, you mainly need exposure — so how do you achieve it? In the digital age, you should first look to SEO and content marketing.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of using whatever tactics are viable to improve your search rankings for relevant terms, all to bring you more high-quality organic traffic. Done well, it’s extremely efficient and cost-effective.
Content marketing, of course, involves producing and distributing content in an effort to raise your profile, elevate the perception of your brand, and earn you valuable links and referral visits. Today, there are more viable avenues for content than ever before.
If you use these two marketing weapons together, you can significantly boost the growth of your business. Here are some tips for how you can best combine them:
Think carefully about your target audience
The goal of each of these tactics is to reach people, whether through search results or through digital content channels. Before you can start bringing them to bear, then, you need to decide which people you want to reach. You’re not going to reach everyone, so you need to get specific with your targeting — and that calls for a great deal of consideration.
Which can you safely infer about the people you’re selling to? Can you narrow them down to particular demographics? What might they search for, and what types of content might they prefer to find? The former will guide your SEO framing, and the latter will determine how best you should allocate your content production resources.
Pick out suitable search opportunities
Start by looking up the primary terms you associate with whatever it is you offer as a business. If you sell sports shoes, for instance, look up “sports shoes”, “running shoes”, “tennis shoes”, etc. Look past the initial results of other retail sites to see what comes up once you reach actual content. Guides to buying sports shoes? People’s favorite sports shoes?
Use that information (along with the audience insights you’ve already gleaned, and keyword tools like AnswerThePublic) to guide your next searches: e.g. “sports shoe guides”, “how to pick the right size of sports shoe”, “which materials are best for sports shoes?”, and anything else you think might present some interesting results.
Look for notable gaps in the SERPs. Which articles are quite thin? Which queries don’t find any satisfactory responses? Your goal should be to fill those gaps with high-quality content that can get you ranking usefully and provide value for your audience. Find where your competitors are weakest, and take advantage.
Build content around relevant keywords
One of the core struggles with balancing SEO and content marketing is that they serve different masters. SEO is for search crawlers and algorithms — it requires pages to be easy for machines to read and analyze — whereas content marketing is for people to enjoy and find useful. How are you supposed to find a balance?
Well, the approach I suggest you take is to start with an SEO-suitable framework and then flesh it out with natural content. Pick out the primary keywords that fit the content demand you’ve identified (e.g. “how to clear sports shoes”) and use them to create a basic structure: heading (headings are particularly important for SEO), subtitle, and various subheadings. After that, just write as you normally would, using whichever terms seem most appropriate. The example below shows this in action:
Might that mean that your primary keyword only shows up a few times? Sure, but look at it this way: not only will it read much better to the people you’re trying to reach, but it may also benefit you in the long run. Search algorithms are improving all the time, and you never know when an update might come along to negatively affect pieces with unnatural keyword use.
Host your content on a strong platform
Growing an online business is as much about the software you use as anything else. If you’re going to achieve strong rankings, you need a strong website platform, because a poor CMS is likely to produce SEO problems and sure to struggle at scale. There’s little use in rolling out great content if the traffic is going to slow your site to a crawl — so this isn’t a step to skip.
Look for a platform that can rapidly scale with demand. Almost any modern CMS with good reviews will suffice for non-ecommerce purposes provided you have great hosting, but online retail is far more taxing. Something that can take you from startup to enterprise without needing a migration is ideal in that case — an enterprise solution like Shopify is a strong choice overall, because it supports a blog by default and has a solid reputation for technical SEO (as unscientific as this CMS study may be, it gives Shopify a distinct edge in some important areas such as ranking keywords and HTTPS implementation).
Your platform also needs to look good and provide a strong UX. The better the platform, the greater the effect of your SEO efforts, the more views your native content will get, and the happier other sites will be to link to your domain. The ultimate objective of both SEO and content marketing is to get people to your site, after all — if that leads to user disappointment, it will waste all your good work.
To sum up, growing a business requires you to get exposure, and the way to do that is to boost your search rankings and start impressing people with authoritative content. While SEO and content marketing can feel somewhat in opposition, your objective is to create content that ticks all the boxes. It’ll be difficult, and time-consuming, but the rewards will more than justify all the effort.
Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on EcommercePlatforms.io and you'll find practical tips to help you build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.