whether you’re a startup seeking your first customers or a growing business looking to expand your customer base, you need to generate leads. One of the best ways to do this is by combining SEO and content marketing. It’s no use choosing just one of the two: you need to implement them together.
Before jumping in, though, you should have a good understanding of what content marketing and SEO are. You also need to know why they matter. Finally, you need to learn how to apply them to your digital marketing strategy to ensure that they have the biggest possible impact on lead generation.
What Is Content Marketing?
Every activity that involves creating content or sharing information (whether for educational or entertainment purposes) is part of your content marketing strategy. Content is useful for a number of reasons. For instance, it
- Contributes to branding and awareness
- Presents your company as an industry or niche expert
- Helps you gain trust from prospects
- Encourages users to interact with your brand
- Directly supports your business goals
Every piece of content in your strategy is a business asset. This includes content such as:
- White Papers
- Social media
- Case studies
- Polls and surveys
What Is SEO?
All the major search engines decide what to show users in search results according to an algorithm. Although each search engine uses its own algorithm, they use similar criteria. You can see this by running the same search in Google, Bing, and Yahoo and comparing the results.
To ensure that your webpages reach the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to optimize your content with ranking factors in mind. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Among other things, SEO encompasses:
- Content quality
- Freshness of content
- Site architecture
- Mobile friendliness
- Site speed
- Descriptiveness of URLs
- Site security
There are also factors that contribute to negative SEO. These include:
- Use of black hat tactics
- Duplicate content
- Formats that are difficult for search engines to crawl or index
Why SEO and Content Marketing Work Together
You may be familiar with the so-called debate over what is better: SEO vs. content marketing. A myth circulating online is that the two compete with each other. In reality, SEO and content enhance each other. To gain the full benefits of your content marketing strategy, you need SEO. Plus, the reverse is true — to see the full benefits of SEO, you need content. Think about: without SEO no one would see your content. Similarly, without content, you have nowhere to use your SEO.
Why did this “debate” even get started? It likely came about in response to companies with limited marketing budgets complaining that they cannot afford both. Actually, the best thing a small company can do is designate some of its budget to SEO and some to content. Even if your funds are extremely limited, you should never ignore one and direct all your budget to the other.
How to Generate More Leads with SEO and Content Marketing
Simply creating content and optimizing it for search engines is still insufficient. SEO-proofed content will generate traffic; however, the traffic won’t necessarily be from your target audience. Targeting users who will never convert is a waste of valuable resource, both in terms of manpower and marketing dollars.
There are several ways to ensure that you do target the right users — and then generate the maximum number of leads.
1. Identify Target Users and Their Pain Points
The first thing to do is determine who you are targeting. This means drawing up buyer personas and buyer journey maps based on the demographics and psychographics of your customers.
Next, you need to determine your audience’s pain points. This will provide you with ideas as to how to present your offering as a solution.
2. Write for Your Readers
Atomic Reach scores your articles on how your audience will perceive them.
You need to create every piece of content with your readers in mind. Think about who your readers are and what they want.
For a start, this involves creating quality content. Quality doesn’t just refer to well-written text; it encompasses the value of the content for readers. No one wants to read a post that talks about how great your company is. You need to create content that features unique insights or information and that makes users want to continue reading beyond the first few lines.
Another thing you need to do is think about the goals and objectives of your readers. The best way to do this is to consider what step they are at in the buyer’s journey, from awareness to decision.
You can use a template like this to map out the buyer’s journey.
- Awareness. If you’re a startup or a relatively-unknown business, you need to become known and recognized. You also need to make prospects aware that they have a problem. You can achieve both by creating content that educates readers. Best options for the awareness stage include white papers, paid advertising, checklists, eBooks, and blog posts.
- Consideration. Once users are aware of their pain points, they’ll start seeking a solution and then assess their options. This falls under the consideration stage. Inform your readers using content like tutorials, slideshows, infographics, and case studies.
- Decision. Finally, you have the decision stage. This is where leads evaluate solutions and make a purchase. Convince leads to choose your offerings through content like newsletters, demos, free trials, and guides.
3. Base Your Content on SEO Opportunities
By creating content according to the opportunities offered by SEO, you will generate better-qualified traffic and therefore increase your number of leads. To do this, you need to align your goals with your keyword strategy. This involves:
- Conducting keyword research. Consider factors like volume, difficulty, page authority, domain authority, link domain, and actual SERP position when deciding which are the best keywords to target.
- Keyword implementation. Rather than aiming for density goals, strive to include keywords naturally in your content. You can increase keyword count by also using related terms.
- Adding internal links and outbound links. Find ways to use keywords in your anchor text. You can also use inbound links to direct readers to additional resources, which will keep them on your site for longer and reduce your bounce rate.
- Including other on-page SEO. As you structure your content, bear in mind other essential aspects of on-page SEO, including meta descriptions, titles, URL structure, and image alt text. Include your keywords in all of these elements.
4. Make Your Content Outstanding
To make your content outstanding, you need to go beyond writing to high standard on original topics. You will also benefit from adding:
- Images. They should be relevant to the topic and of high quality.
- Graphs and analytics. Visual aids provide another way of presenting information, making it more understandable to readers. They are particularly useful for complex topics and for content containing a large number of statistics.
- Tweets. Embed your own tweets into content to give readers something to share and embed others’ tweets to show opinions on the topic.
- YouTube videos. Integrate videos from YouTube within your blog posts rather than hosting the content yourself. This will improve engagement on your YouTube channel and help users access more of your video content.
- Layout structure and texture. White space, highlights, headings, blockquotes, and short paragraphs all break up text and make it more appealing to read.
5. Utilize Intelligent Tools
You can improve both your content and SEO marketing strategy when you utilize intelligent tools. Two to try are CanIRank and Atomic AI.
CanIRank (above) is for SEO artificial intelligence (AI), particularly keywords. Rather than just providing you with data and expecting you act on it, the tool provides recommendations. This helps you know where exactly to take your strategy. For instance, you’ll:
- Learn where pages currently rank and how to improve.
- Find out what changes will have an impact in the shortest time.
- See what keywords your competitors are targeting and what terms Google considers to be related.
- Receive notifications about rank changes, link opportunities, and more.
- Gain advice about other ways to improve SEO, according to your skill level. These become more complex as your skills improve.
Atomic AI’s Atomic Reach platform covers content intelligence. The tool’s features include:
- Quality scoring of all your content.
- A proprietary context engine to ensure that your content is consistent.
- A conversion recipe to assess why a piece of content was successful at generating leads.
6. Improve Distribution
After you put your combined SEO and content marketing strategy in place, you should expect a high volume of traffic within four to six weeks. To optimize the results, you need to look for distribution opportunities. Some ideas include:
- Posting to your social media accounts
- Sharing on targeted social groups
- Seeking out guest blog opportunities
- Posting on blog directories
- Generating backlinks
- Using webpages to link to blog posts (especially to posts with evergreen content)
Putting It All Together
Whatever your business, there should be many possibilities for creating content outside of topics that directly relate to your products and services. Thinking about what your customers are spending their time on and creating content based around these activities will lead to indirect conversions. Plus, it will allow you to keep your content fresh and prevention repetitions.
In addition, go beyond infusing blog posts with target keywords. Optimize every type of content using SEO best practices, whether the content is an email, video, landing page, tip sheet, or webpage.