“Google only loves you when everyone loves you first”

Wendy Piersall – wendypiersall.com

Thanks to Google’s unconditional love and support, the integration between content marketing and SEO is getting wider every day. This should feel like music to digital marketers’ ears as they no longer have to treat them as two separate pieces of the giant e-marketing puzzle.

In other words, if you nail content marketing, SEO will be effortless.

Content Marketing & SEO Defined

Content Marketing Institute defines Content marketing as:

 “… the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content (images, video, text…etc.) to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

According to Wikipedia, Search engine optimization (SEO) is:

“… the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. … SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search…”

If you take a close look at the parts in bold in both definitions, you will realize that optimized digital content (video, image, text, audio) is a crystal clear commonality between content marketing and SEO.

In addition, experts believe that the intersection between these big players will continue to expand. A recent Forbes article about dominant SEO trends in 2015 confirmed that: “SEO will remain an invaluable subset of content marketing.”

 Content Marketing

Google Algorithms Updates Support Quality Content as A Ranking Factor

Google Panda:

When Google Panda Algorithm saw the light in 2011, it was mainly created to “…stop sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.”

 Amit Singhal, who is in charge of search quality at Google, stated that Google Panda 2.0  is “focused on showing users the highest quality, most relevant pages on the web.

Panda algorithm was subject to countless updates in order to achieve this worthy goal. With Panda 4.0 update in 2014, it was official that Google had zero tolerance for duplicate content.

Google Hummingbird:  

Google Hummingbird algorithm was launched in 2013. The key functionality that the Hummingbird offered was paying more attention to the whole sentence of the entire query rather than exact words. The Hummingbird measured Relevance and quality scores of webpages using 200+ ranking factors

Google Penguin 1 and 2:

The following Infographic illustrates how the Penguin updates were biased to quality content.

Content Marketing & SEO

After debating Google’s updates hidden motives, Nate Dame concluded that “As far as the SEO community is concerned, it means one thing: Creating content that delights users is the only strategy we have left.”

A recent comprehensive article about Google Algorithms updates history (2001-2015) advised that Google will rank high websites that offer:”…content that is well researched, in-depth, and gets shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and the other major social platforms continues to rank well – perhaps even more highly than before…This content must add value, be interesting to the reader, and solve a definite problem.

Content Marketing Practices = SEO Practices

User Experience:

Content marketers strive to create exceptional user experience by offering compelling content, clean design and fast web page loading. 

Again, Google have supported these proven content marketing tactics by officially declaring that web page loading speed and bounce rate affect Google ranking of a website. (Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. Needless to say, people will “bounce” out of a web site if it offers poor quality content.)

Longer posts Win:

As the content marketing scene becomes fiercely competitive, longer content is becoming increasingly favorable by audience.

A study conducted by serpIQ revealed that modern SEO is giving ranking privileges to longer content (1500+ words).

Content Marketing Chart

Fresh Content Rules:

According to a recent study about content marketing trends in 2015 , 54% of the most successful content marketers that were surveyed noted that they publish fresh content on daily basis or multiple times per week.

On the other hand, Cyrus Shepard notes that Google’s “…freshness score can boost a piece of content for certain search queries.”  Once again, content marketing and SEO alien forces.

Why Is Visual Marketing SEO’s Best Friend 

Brian Dean – SEO expert founder of backlinko.com stated that: “Engaging images, videos and diagrams can reduce bounce rate and increase time on site: two critical user interaction ranking factors.

Jeff Bullas, a content marketing rock star, emphasizes that: “We live in a visual world. When it comes to content marketing, this is convenient. Digital technology is evolving at a rapid pace and has given marketers the chance to tell stories through the use of videos, Infographics, and compelling imagery.”

Interesting Visual Marketing Stats:

– 70% of e-marketers are planning to increase original (in-house) visual assets such as images, videos and Infographics.(Source SocialMediaExaminer  2014 Industry report)

– A whopping 90% of online shoppers use videos to make buying decisions. (Source Ethos3)

– Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

– In average, publishers who use Infographics get 12% traffic higher than those who don’t. (Source: AnsonAlex)

How can effective blogging boost SEO?

Unlike social media platforms that are subject to sudden (and often unwanted!) changes, your business blog is your evergreen digital asset. As you plan to turn your blog into a conversion magnet, you will discover that SEO and content marketing unite to fulfill your every wish. When you crafting your content marketing strategy, make sure to follow these proven guidelines.

– Carefully select blog topics that are tailored to your target market needs and interests.

– Consistently publish optimized quality content, making sure to diversify digital content format (video, text, Infographics, images, podcasts and so forth) to satisfy all tastes.

– Leverage your most popular content. For example, you can build on a popular topic by creating a tutorial series based on it. As a result, you will maximize user engagement and repeat visits to your website.

– Create a reasonable number of blog categories and include paragraphs description for every category.  

– Make sure to include keywords within blog titles (preferably in the beginning.)

– Overstuffing keywords inside blog posts can lead to Google penalty. Instead, make sure keywords flow naturally and seamlessly within your content.

In this video Matt Cutts, Google software engineer, emphasizes that there’s no rule of thumb for keywords density and stresses on the importance of creating quality content to ensure high page ranking.

– Make sure to include long tail keywords and LSI in your blog posts for optimal results. (LSI stands for latent semantic indexing and refers to keywords synonyms that Google uses to determine the relevancy of a webpage.)

– Take advantage of blog categories and tags to boost your SEO ranking. Using them results in creating internal links that include your keywords in their anchor text. This will help search engine crawlers index your entire website and rank it for the keywords used in tags and categories. Although blog tags and categories were primarily designed to make navigating your blog easier for visitors, there SEO rewards are enormous. 

– Ensure consistent guest blogging and blog commenting on relevant blogs in order to generate high quality backlinks that Google accepts.

Google Loves Videos!

Video marketing is a HUGE! In order to spice up your video marketing SEO, all you have to do is follow content marketing best practices.

Video Content:

Create compelling video content that keeps audience glued to their chairs from start to finish. Keep in mind that the time spent watching your video (not total views) affects how Google ranks it. In other words, If thousands of people watched your video and left at the first second, it will still be ranked poorly. Again, Google is advocating compelling content. (Generally speaking, a 5-minute or less video is likely to attract more views.)

Video Title:

Include keywords in the beginning of your video title, making sure that the title is 70 characters at maximum because Google will truncate the rest

Video Description:

Video description is a great SEO spot. Sprinkle keywords throughout the description, making sure to include the most important information in the first two or three sentences. Whenever possible, include a video transcript in the description. In addition, make it a good habit to include your website URL at the beginning of your video description and links to your social media accounts at the end.

Video Thumbnail Image:

Your video thumbnail image is the first audience-eye-catcher. Make sure it stands out with an attractive design that reflects the content of your video.  If you will are using animated thumbnails, go for bright colors to attract attention. (Make sure to use hi resolution, 640×360 pixels, images at minimum)

Video CTA (call-to-action):

It’s a good idea to directly ask people to like, share, subscribe and comment on your video. Usually these calls to action are requested verbally or displayed prominently at the end of the video. You can also take advantage of the CTA button that YouTube offers.

File Names Optimization:

Optimize the file names of your videos and thumbnail images by including keywords in their raw file names in the format “keyword1- keyword2.wmv” for video files and “keyword1- keyword2.jpg” for image files.

How to Use YouTube for Business: Video SEO Tips for 2015

How to Optimize Images and Infographics for SEO?

Using images and Infographics is a highly recommended practice by content marketers and SEO experts. Optimize your content images for SEO by following these simple and effective tips.

– As mentioned earlier in the video SEO section, optimize the image file names by including keywords in their raw file names in the format “keyword1- keyword2.jpg”

– Make sure to include keywords in the image “Alt” text. For example, if you publish a blog post about general fitness tips. Then you may have an image with Alt text saying: “exercise fitness tips” and another image with Alt text saying: “diet fitness tips”. In this case, Google will understand that the page is about fitness tips.

Content Marketing - Page Keywords

– Prominently display  your URL and logo in your in-house images and Infographics

– Repurpose your popular blog posts and videos by turning them into Infographics. There are various types of Infographics that you can use to simplify, categorize and organize complex information.  For instance, you can turn a top-5-list-based blog post into an Infographic as shown below.

5 SEO Strategies

How to Turn Your Social Media Accounts into SEO Magnets?

The definition of content marketing that we introduced above included creation and “distribution” of content. Social media platforms are content marketing distribution channels. On top of that, they offer massive SEO rewards.

A recent study about B2B Content Marketing Statistics in 2015 concluded that:

– 94% of surveyed B2B marketers use LinkedIn for content distribution

– 88% of surveyed B2B marketers use Twitter for content distribution

– 84% of surveyed B2B marketers use Facebook for content distribution

– 72% of surveyed B2B marketers use YouTube for content distribution

– 64% of surveyed B2B marketers use Google+ for content distribution

We will be sharing invaluable resources about content marketing best practices that boost SEO on each of these platforms. (We already covered YouTube Content Marketing SEO tips in the video marketing section above.)

Content Marketing SEO

Resources for LinkedIn content marketing best practices that boost SEO:

The 13 Sneakiest LinkedIn SEO Tips to Boost Your Profile’s Views

3 ways a LinkedIn Company Page boosts SEO

Resources for Twitter content marketing best practices that boost SEO:

Top 5 SEO Tips for Twitter Marketing

Twitter SEO Tips: How to Use Twitter For SEO

Resources for Facebook content marketing best practices that boost SEO:

Facebook SEO tips – improving your brand visibility

Resources for Google+ content marketing best practices that boost SEO:

Google Plus SEO – 4 Phenomenal Google+ SEO Tips for Personal Profiles

Google+ SEO Tips For The Local Business Owner

Additional Resources

By just skimming through the following articles titles, you will notice that content marketers are increasingly realizing the correlation between content marketing and SEO. 

Get the Biggest SEO Bang for Your Content Marketing Buck

19 Fresh Content SEO Strategy Tips and Statistics

Content & Search Engine Success Factors

The Ultimate SEO Checklist: 15 Steps to Optimize Your Content Marketing Plan

68 SEO Content Tools, Trends, and Tips for B2B and B2C Brands

Ready to Take Your Content Marketing SEO to The Next Level?

The success of a page should be measured by one criterion: Does the visitor do what you want them to do?”

Aaron WallSEObook.com

Content Marketing & SEO

We have gone through an extensive research to create this comprehensive guide. However, we believe that the topic is so broad and would welcome any additional resources that would enhance the quality of this guide.

Please share your thoughts and/or relevant resources in the comments.

Your valuable contribution is much appreciated. To your success!   

Do You Want More Clicks, Calls and Clients?