If you’re looking for new ways to improve your website’s search engine rankings and overall SEO (or search engine optimization), has it crossed your mind that content marketing might be one possible solution?
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering if you can improve SEO with content, or if there are any content marketing SEO benefits you should be aware of.
How content marketing and SEO work together
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process by which a website is optimized to perform better and rank higher in relevant searches. Content marketing, on the other hand, is a subset of inbound marketing that involves moving a website visitor through the sales funnel by offering them helpful, interesting, or convincing content pieces.
Although these two may seem like night and day, it is possible to create a content marketing strategy for SEO—that is, a content marketing strategy that helps your website rank better, for more keywords, and reach more customers.
As Google’s algorithms have developed and changed, they have started to favor many of the elements of a good content marketing plan—for example, fresh content of a certain length, with good keyword targeting, and on specific pages. In fact, a solid SEO strategy now involves content creation just as much as it involves classic, more technical factors.
The SEO benefits of content marketing
Let’s look a little closer at some content marketing SEO benefits, and learn specific ways that a content marketing plan can give you an edge over your competitors in search engine rankings.
More Content = more keyword opportunities
Search engines can’t “see” websites like you and I can. Although we as human beings can look at a website with pictures of pet supplies and understand that it’s an ecommerce site selling leashes, dog bowls, and dog toys, Google has no way of knowing what a website’s purpose is unless those words are written somewhere.
Content marketing allows you to go beyond the small paragraphs of homepage copy and alt text descriptions on photos, where your space for keywords may be limited. Through the use of articles, blog posts, guides, and other written content, you can use more keywords relevant to what your website is about—and what people are searching for.
For example, if your website sells pet supplies, you may want to rank well for keywords related to dog collars. Instead of trying to cram all the collar-related words and phrases you can think of into one small space or page, you can write a very natural guide like “How to Choose the Right Size Collar for Your Dog,” or create a blog post about the newest colors and styles of collars in your store. This content isn’t just helpful and interesting. It’s also a great opportunity to use keywords and rank well in searches!
Google prefers longer content
According to one study, pages that rank the highest in Google’s search engine results pages (or SERPs) tend to also have the highest amount of content:
As the chart above shows, pages in the first three positions of the SERPs averaged around 2,400 words each.
Is longer content always better? Not necessarily. After all, if your article, blog post, or guide goes on and on without making a point or offering any kind of substantial information, visitors will get tired of it and leave, and that can actually hurt your rankings (see below). However, substantial, informative, and detailed content tends to be longer, so it makes sense that it would correlate with the highest rankings.
Think about the last time you searched for an answer or tutorial online. How long did it take you to find a page detailed enough to fully answer your question or help you solve your problem? Chances are, you found this page right away.
As SEO has evolved, it has changed to incorporate factors other than keyword density (that is, the number of times you used the keyword you want to rank for). So by creating substantial content that visitors really appreciate, you have a better chance at taking the top spot than someone who tries to get their keyword usage perfect!
Content keeps users on the page longer
Let’s say someone comes to your website from search, can’t find what they are looking for, and leaves right away (without visiting any other pages). This is called a bounce, and the percentage of people who do this on each page on your site is factored into your bounce rate.
Google can factor metrics like bounce rate into your site’s overall SEO profile. If a page has a very high bounce rate, that’s typically a sign that there is something wrong with it—and Google certainly doesn’t want to continue ranking it highly if it’s sending all its visitors right back into the search results. Sometimes content can help you combat a high bounce rate and solve problems like this, especially if it’s done thoughtfully.
For example, let’s say the bounce rate on your homepage is very high, and you think that’s because visitors don’t know where to start learning about your products or services. You could add some content to introduce your company, suggest where they could get started, or even link to some pages. This can keep them on the page longer, send them to other pages, and reduce confusion – so it’s actually solving three problems, not just one!
As we mentioned above, content that doesn’t help your visitors, doesn’t make its point, or simply bores the reader can drive visitors away. If your content begins to send people away very quickly, this, too, can harm your bounce rate. So length is important, but don’t waste your visitor’s time, either!
Unique content can help you achieve new rankings
Finally, there’s one thing that SEO and content marketing often have in common: they focus on finding something that hasn’t been done before and trying to rank highly for it.
By combining keyword research—one of the crucial skills you should learn to improve your SEO—and your content marketing program, you can focus not just on creating a content marketing strategy for SEO gain, but on creating unique, never-before-seen content that exposes your business or website to visitors searching for “long-tail” keywords where you have a far better chance at ranking in the top spot.
For example, if you sell fine chocolates online, your immediate reaction may be to create an article about why chocolate tastes so good, or even why it makes a good gift. But this has certainly been done before! Instead, by doing a little research, you might find that a few dozen people are searching each month for a detailed article on the health benefits of dark chocolate, but there aren’t any good pieces out there on the topic.
This is a perfect topic for your content marketing program, because you can write authoritatively about it, and have the knowledge and resources needed to do so. Additionally, because you sell chocolate, you can end the article with a gentle call to action along the lines of “click here to see our wide selection of dark chocolates, shipped free to your home or a loved one.”
As long as the content you’re writing is unique and relevant to your company, these unique pieces can help you occupy additional places in the SERPs, rank for even more keywords, and reach a wider audience.
Additional benefits of content marketing
Although you can absolutely improve SEO with content on your website, the benefits of content marketing go far beyond increased rankings and search engine visibility. In fact, your main goal with establishing a content marketing program shouldn’t necessarily be to improve your SEO, because your site content may not necessarily have a substantial impact on it.
Content marketing has a number of other benefits to your potential customers and leads. It fills gaps in your sales funnel, exposes your business to additional audiences, and creates feelings of goodwill among those visiting your site.
You can learn more about the benefits of content marketing by reading the third chapter of our beginner’s guide to content marketing, Why Use Content Marketing?
Create a unified content marketing strategy for SEO — and your visitors
Now that you’ve learned about the ways that content marketing can improve your SEO, you may be looking to create a content marketing strategy that both helps your visitors and your site. That’s where we come in. WebFX, a leading full-service Internet marketing agency, can create a unified content marketing strategy that gives you an edge over the competition—both in content and in rankings.
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