Search Content Marketing: The Intersection of SEO & Thought Leadership

If you took two popular marketing practices and merged them together, what would you get? In the case of content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), you end up with search content marketing.

Most marketers look at content marketing and SEO as two standalone practices. But the reality is, as Neil Patel argues, they go together. If you want more traffic for your content, you need to focus on SEO. If you want that SEO to matter, you need to focus on content marketing.

Take a closer look at search content marketing and learn how your brand can put it into practice.

Does Search Content Marketing = SEO?

One of the first things to understand about search content marketing is that it’s not synonymous with SEO. Search content marketing contains elements of SEO, but it also goes a bit further.

As Search Engine Land defines it, SEO is the practice of “getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.”

Content marketing focuses “creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. And, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” according to the Content Marketing Institute.

Where SEO & UX Meet

You could argue that search content marketing focuses on creating useful and valuable content to attract an audience and that it focuses on gaining much of that audience from natural or organic search engine results.

One thing to remember when creating a search content marketing campaign is you need to think like your audience. The content you produce should speak to their needs and attempt to solve their problems.

Your campaign should also be designed so someone with a question can find your content (and presumably the answer to their question) easily through a Google (or other search engine) search.

Why Search Content Marketing Matters

Website Traffic

Why should you bother with search content marketing? What’s the benefit of paying attention to SEO when you produce content? One significant benefit of search content marketing is that it can provide free traffic to your content or website.

You could argue that promoting or publishing a post on social media also provides free traffic. But it’s not really the same. When you promote on social media you’re sharing your content with an audience who may or who may not be in need of it.

Your social post might show up in front of 1,000 people; of those 1,000 people, only 10 are interested in it. Worse, you might have to pay to promote your post on social media. That means you’re spending money to reach a potentially very limited audience.

When you focus on improving your content’s ranking in the search results through search content marketing, you are guaranteeing your content will reach a receptive audience.

Brand Awareness & Recognition

Another benefit of search content marketing is you don’t have to be a “known” brand for the marketing to work. With social promotion, the assumption is you have at least a few followers. But when you focus on creating content that’s useful and that ranks high in the search results, you don’t need to already have an established audience.

In fact, you can build up your audience through search content marketing. If someone types in a question on a search engine and your content comes up as the first or second results, that person has little to lose by clicking on it.

If the content doesn’t meet their needs, that person can always click away and find something else. But if it does solve his or her problem or answer the question, that person is likely to linger or return to your site for more information.

How to Get Started With Search Content Marketing

Create Content For Readers

Getting started with search content marketing means getting started with content creation. What types of content or what sorts of subjects are people searching for? What questions do they have?

Where can you figure out what questions people are asking? The Content Marketing Institute recommends looking at sites like Quora. That’s where people ask specific questions and others try to provide answers.

Create Content for Search Engines

You can also use search and keyword analytics tools to see what long-tail keywords (a phrase that contains at least three words and which are often in the form of a question) are trending in your niche or industry. To help your content rank better, it’s a good idea to focus on long-tail keywords that don’t have a lot of competition.

You want to be blunt when it comes to search content marketing. If you have the choice between a funny but somewhat esoteric headline and a headline that contains a keyword, go with the keyword. That funny headline might make you chuckle but it’s much less likely to rank high in search results.

Search content marketing is about more than just keywords, though. When you’re getting started creating content that performs well in search, also pay attention to how that content looks. Using responsive design so your content is easy to view on a variety of screen sizes is a must.

Examples of Search Content Marketing in Action

What does search content marketing look like in real life? Here are a few examples.

Stitch Fix Summer Outfit Ideas

People looking for summer outfit ideas are likely to stumble across Stitch Fix’s landing page for summer outfit ideas and tips. The page includes plenty of keywords relating to summer outfits and also links out to multiple pages that focus on specific questions or concerns people might have for summer dressing.

Tennis Canada – Tennis 101

You can’t get much more useful than teaching people a new skill. Tennis Canada’s Tennis 101 walks you through the process of learning to play, showing you everything from how to hold your racket to how to score points.

King Arthur Flour – Chocolate Cake Recipe

King Arthur Flour’s recipe for chocolate cake uses pretty straightforward keywords (“chocolate cake recipe”) to make sure that people looking for such a recipe can find it easily. The recipe also includes links to products produced by King Arthur, making it super-simple for a person to gather what he or she needs to bake the cake.

Search content marketing requires you to put the needs of your audience first. When you’re thinking about what they want and need from your brand, you’ll end up producing content that not only helps your audience out but ranks high in the search engine results.

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