If you want to create relevant, timely content that your target audience can easily find and read, then content marketing and SEO must work seamlessly together.
But first, let’s define the terms.
Content marketing is the foundation of any digital marketing campaign. Producing consistent, relatable, and focused content builds brand identity and customer trust.
However, high-quality content can still fail if there’s a lack of proper keywords. A low rank on Google automatically lessens the probability for your prospects seeing your content.
On the other hand, if the content reads as spammy or artificial because of mindless keyword stuffing, search engines will bypass it and audiences will never see it.
This shows why content marketing and SEO actually complement each other. It’s important to understand both individually and then learn how they can best work together.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing consists of creating story-driven content in different forms — including blogs, videos, podcasts, and social media — to convey a brand message to the audience. Its reach has expanded alongside the digital world, where content can go viral in a few hours. But content marketing has always been an effective marketing tool even before the Age of the Internet precisely because humans are drawn to well-told stories.
Now more than ever, it’s important to know the advantages of content marketing and how to use it effectively. It’s more difficult to catch and maintain the audience’s attention with so much available content on a local and global scale. In this regard, search engines like Google prefer long form content because its comprehensive nature will most likely satisfy the search intent of the audience.
Long form content also humanises a brand through storytelling. Consistently creating long form content that is relatable and honest makes a brand more personal and credible, rather than producing bite-sized pieces that just shows off a brand’s statistical achievements.
As such, content marketing is vastly different from traditional advertising. Unlike content marketing, traditional advertising is loud and forceful. Because it can be found almost everywhere — such as billboards, TV commercials, and website ads — it runs a higher risk of alienating the audience.
With content marketing, the audience has the choice of seeking out and interacting with the brand’s content. Establishing trust through consistent, high-quality content allows potential buyers to learn about a brand on a deeper level until they decide to purchase the products or services offered.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving your site by increasing visibility and ranking on the search engine results for certain keywords. Most online experiences start when internet users search something on Google. This emphasises how content must have a high rank because most people only look at the first page of search results.
Knowing how to use keywords without keyword stuffing is essential in achieving a high rank. Keyword research and usage determine the relevant topics in your content. This is what search engines use to index and filter the content that enters the web.
Because search engines constantly learn, Google has become adept at identifying what method of SEO you use. If you’re using a White Hat method that prioritises human readers with strategically embedded keywords within engaging content. Or if you’re using a Black Hat method that only prioritises optimisation for search engines with stuffed keywords in spammy content. The former is good, while the latter is not.
Climbing the ranks in search engines is an intricate, long-term process if done right. But success is possible if your digital marketing strategy includes SEO copywriting.
For good stories to reach your audience, you need to integrate SEO. Otherwise, the content will be difficult to find amidst higher-ranking stories that have been approved by search engines.
SEO copywriters complete the picture in this regard because they deliver content that balances both SEO-friendly writing and engaging storytelling. Using high-quality SEO strategies can increase visibility and traffic to your content.
How does content marketing and SEO work together?
In a highly competitive digital landscape, using both together will more likely boost traffic and ensure that your content reaches your target audience. Because there’s an oversaturation of content online, using just one isn’t enough anymore to generate leads.
Content marketing that successfully integrates SEO gains more engagement and viewership because it intersects on three factors.
First, the identity of the brand translates clearly through relatable and relevant quality content. This establishes a genuine connection both with regular and potential customers. Second, the effective use of keywords showcases and prioritises content ideas to the search engines and, by extension, the target audience. Third, understanding the types of content that rank high and successfully applying relevant techniques to your own content.
The convergence between content marketing and SEO is also evident in the behaviour of people using search engines. Short pieces don’t always address the concerns of customers, while longer ones are more detailed and comprehensive.
Meeting this demand requires both to work together because content marketing delivers relevant and enriching storytelling that captures the audience, while SEO ensures the success of content by generating leads using techniques such as keywords, formatting and structure, and good links.
These are two different approaches that demand specific skill sets. But to lead a successful digital marketing campaign, it’s vital to understand both and use them together.
5 Brands that successfully used content marketing and SEO together
Here are five examples of brands that have successfully incorporated both in their campaigns.
1. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke”
Australia first launched the “Share a Coke” campaign, where the traditional wrapping of Coca-Cola bottles was changed to “Share a Coke with…” and a popular name.
The campaign was so well-received that the rest of the world followed. Coca-Cola U.S. featured the latest song lyrics, while the U.K printed favourite holiday destinations.
Its success involved two factors: authentic personalisation and user-generated content (UGC), a content marketing and an SEO strategy respectively that work well together.
Part of the brand identity is nurturing shared happy moments. The campaign amplified this by giving customers the opportunity to personalise their own Coca-Cola bottle and post it online.
The UGC from customers who keep posting about their own “Share a Coke” experiences on various platforms resulted in more sales and traffic on the official website. Because SEO prefers showcasing fresh and relevant content on search engine results, a constant flow of incoming UGC from customers posting about the brand improves ranking.
UGC also gives web crawlers or internet bots more context about what your pages are about and how they’re relevant to the audience’s search intent. As more people posted about “Share a Coke”, the stronger the brand recall and visibility.
2. Getty Museum Challenge
In March 2020, Paul Getty Museum challenged online followers to recreate famous masterpieces with household items. By the end of the campaign, the original tweet received more than 10,000 retweets and 26,000 likes.
At the time, art recreation challenges were the latest trend in museum engagement because of the pandemic. Cultural institutions had to be creative with engaging their audience online while lockdowns were in place.
Getty Museum is another brand that uses UGC, but with a more concentrated effort in social media. The museum adapted a simple content idea that involved the active participation of both long-time and potential followers. There’s a clear story behind the idea: find beauty and art in everyday things. This inspirational challenge established a connection with the audience.
Thousands of people uploaded photos of both the original art and their homemade masterpiece in posts linking back to Getty Museum. This is a creative way to integrate content and SEO because visual content like this can drive more traffic to your page through image search results.
Participants also used Getty Museum’s online art collection as references for their masterpieces, which successfully generated more leads back to the official website.
3. Chipotle’s Tony Hawk Burrito
The fast food restaurant’s collaboration with skateboarding star Tony Hawk was an integrated campaign to engage the eSports community.
Chipotle first celebrated the launch of the Tony Hawk Burrito, the first menu item named after a celebrity, with a rewards program. The first 2,000 fans who ordered the burrito on the Chipotle app and website received access to an advance demo of the Activision video game.
Then Chipotle gave out 5,000 burritos to viewers of the two-hour Twitch livestream of Hawk and actor Finn Wolfhard, who played the video game together.
Aside from successfully introducing a new menu item that caters to a specific customer, Chipotle gained traffic online. The campaign incorporated content marketing with SEO by utilising the brand’s official online platforms.
Fans who ordered the Tony Hawk Burrito generated leads for the website and mobile app, while viewers who commented and discussed the livestream resulted in UGC that made the campaign relevant in search engines.
4. Burberry’s Kisses
In partnership with Google, Burberry encouraged Chrome and mobile users to share “kisses” via a desktop camera or touchscreen device. Users can personalise the virtual kiss by adding a Burberry Beauty lip colour, before it “travels” to the recipient through 3D animation using Google Earth and Street View.
Burberry created interactive yet on-brand content to engage millennials who perceive the brand as “old” or “intimidating”. The campaign conveyed that this luxury brand is innovative and accessible to a wide range of audience.
It seamlessly created content that a new, potential audience cares about while using specific keywords and online formatting and structure that prioritise the content idea. Within 10 days, the keywords “Burberry Kisses” gained 250,000 search results and users from 13,000 cities sent a kiss around the world.
5. Nintendo’s Switch Console Campaign
The video game giant used traditional and digital marketing channels not only to announce the launch of the Switch console globally, but also to build a fanbase around the product even before its release. Switch is the first kind of unit that combines handheld devices and home consoles, and this reflects in the hybrid structure of Nintendo’s “Unexpected Places” launch campaign.
The campaign idea is simple: Switch includes Nintendo’s best entertainment and gaming systems in one innovative unit, allowing users to play anytime and anywhere. Part of the campaign included an “Unexpected Places” tour featuring Switch “pop-up” locations and demos around the U.S.
In terms of digital marketing, Nintendo used social media, how-to-use tips, livestream events, and YouTube videos. There was a steady release of content in multiple channels leading up to the release of Switch. And the idea of the campaign remained even as the content format and structure changed to fit the platform. A Switch “pop-up” location and a tweet about places you can use Switch essentially have the same message.
This consistency gradually built a community around Switch as more and more people learned about the product. Because Nintendo constantly created new and exciting content about Switch, it became much more accessible and relevant in search engines. Especially since the campaign also built UGC for Switch through social media and other online platforms.
Even small brands can build awareness and engagement with a wider audience if the content and SEO are consistently in line with the platforms used.
No matter the industry or brand, integrating both together has proved to result in greater success.
You need both in order to rank higher on Google and gain more viewers and traffic, and consistently still tell meaningful stories. A brand becomes more trustworthy and personal because genuine, original content establishes a connection with people.
If you’re a small business owner, using both content marketing and SEO is key to a successful digital marketing campaign. Using one by itself will make it difficult to stand out, but both together will take you to the top of the ranks.