It wasn’t that long ago that businesses were being urged to jump on the SEO bandwagon. It wasn’t enough to have a website, you had to optimize in order to be found.
These days, SEO has become old hat. Optimizing is still an essential part of an online strategy, but content marketing is making a much bigger splash of late. If you’re not engaged in content marketing you might as well fold up your tent and hit the road.
While businesses don’t necessarily have to take advantage of every promotional trend in the online arena, there are some that bear consideration. However, you might not entirely understand the differences between SEO and content marketing, especially if you’ve been too busy running your business to stay up-to-date with online marketing trends.
For those interested in making the most of their online campaigns, however, it’s important to understand the strategies that are currently generating the best results. To that end, here’s a basic breakdown of the differences between SEO and content marketing.
What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, revolves around listing your website with search engines and then taking appropriate steps to increase your visibility so that you can appear in top-ranked positions for related searches. Okay, that’s a lot of words strung together that may mean very little to anyone who doesn’t understand SEO.
Let’s break it down. Search engines use complex algorithms designed to assign relevance to websites and their content, essentially ranking them in relation to specific search queries. In order to make yourself more mathematically relevant, you can optimize in a number of ways.
You get “points”, so to speak, for external links that point to your website, for trending keywords in your content (or in the meta data used to categorize your content), and for any number of other criteria. Of course, most search engines won’t tell you what, exactly, the criteria are, but these days the catchphrase “content is king” gets bandied about quite a bit due to Google’s declaration that only high-quality, relevant content will be featured.
SEO is an essential part of any online marketing strategy because it is nearly impossible to compete without it. If you want to be visible to search engines, increase your page rank for specific search queries, and ultimately be found by those seeking your goods or services, you can’t afford to forego SEO.
What is Content Marketing?
Whereas SEO is something of a numbers game, content marketing concerns itself more with the traditional, creative side of marketing campaigns. In a nutshell, it pertains to the creation of content that is consistently high-quality, that offers value and relevance, and that strives to attract and retain a specific audience.
The end goal, as with any type of marketing, is sales, or profit. However, content marketing takes a somewhat novel approach to the marketing game by offering something more than a product in exchange for patronage. In essence, content marketing strives to create long-term relationships with customers by providing added value through content.
How Do They Differ?
A lot of people say that these days there is little difference between SEO and content marketing. After all, SEO is now largely focused on crafting quality content. Isn’t that the same thing content marketing is after?
There is definitely some overlap, but the better way to look at it is to say that content marketing can contribute to an overall SEO strategy. The major difference between SEO and content marketing is the approach and the goals.
For example, SEO strives to attract the attention of search bots, gaining page rank in the process so that consumers find a company first when searching for specific goods and services. Human interaction is the end goal, but perhaps not the main goal of SEO.
Content marketing, on the other hand, strives to make personal connections through content and build a lasting rapport through consistency. The important thing to remember is that taking advantage of SEO and content marketing is not and either/or scenario. The two need not compete; they are complimentary.
Despite the hubbub about content marketing overtaking SEO, the truth is that one cannot be truly successful without the other. You need high-quality, valuable, relevant content to gain traction with search engines (and consumers), and without SEO to support your content, chances are it will never be found. So while the two strategies differ to a degree, wise business owners will find ways to integrate both into an overall marketing strategy.