Good content, effectively optimized. Content marketing and SEO can work together successfully – just how? How do new Google ranking factors affect content marketing?
The interaction of content marketing & SEO
Content marketing is on everyone’s lips and by constantly improving their algorithms, search engines can interpret the content of a page better and better. Search engine optimization (SEO) is not only an important part of online marketing, but also increasingly influences it. However, the two disciplines are not in competition with each other. On the contrary: content marketing and SEO complement each other perfectly! In this article, we explain how to develop a successful strategy that combines the two disciplines in a meaningful way.
Content marketing is a form of marketing in which the added value for the user is clearly in the foreground. In contrast to classic advertising, a product or service is only marketed indirectly. With the help of content marketing you can achieve very different goals, for example by providing information you can increase awareness of your brand and win new customers. But the bond with existing customers can also be strengthened. The term content includes not only texts, but also images, infographics, videos, podcasts or interactive content – there are hardly any limits to creativity.
Search engine optimization means optimizing a website in such a way that it ranks as high as possible in the search results of Google , Bing or Yahoo for relevant search terms . A distinction is made between OnPage and OffPage measures. On-page measures include all adjustments to your own website, such as technical and structural changes. The off-page measures primarily include building backlinks, because these are an important signal for the search engine to evaluate a page.
Content marketing and search engine optimization are very closely linked and basically form a symbiosis : content is and still is one of the most important factors in search engine optimization. Without relevant content it is difficult to generate backlinks and without search engine optimized texts it is hardly possible to achieve a good ranking in the search results of Google & Co with your content.
Google’s ranking factors 2017
There are around 200 factors that provide information about how the Google ranking is influenced. The search engine’s algorithm is constantly being adjusted so that, with the help of artificial intelligence, Google is increasingly able to analyze and interpret search results in real time and learn from them independently. In addition, the increasing relevance of mobile websites and the expected introduction of the Mobile First Index and the existence of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) play an important role in website optimization. Google’s influence is increasing and you as a marketer have to adapt to new developments on the part of Google in order to place your website high up in the search results.
The SEO expert Searchmetrics publishes a study every year in which current ranking factors are analyzed. In the latest report, the company came to the conclusion, among other things, that SEO has become significantly more complex and that these generally applicable ranking factors no longer exist. Instead, the relevance of the ranking factors varies by industry. Therefore, individual studies are now being drawn up for the various sectors, such as e-commerce, media or finance, with which the relevance of the ranking factors of the respective sectors can be compared.
Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines
In the Quality Rater Guidelines , Google itself names three criteria that are used to measure the quality of a page. These are expertise , authority and trustworthiness . In concrete terms, this means that you, as the operator of a website, must make it clear that you are very familiar with the topic and can report on it professionally. Google demands a high level of quality, especially for pages dealing with health or finance. Medical advisors should B. be written by people with sufficient expertise.
The search engine includes the entire website to check the content and pays attention to who is responsible for the content. In addition to an imprint, you should therefore definitely create an “About us” page on which all essential information can be found. Reputation is also a very important factor, especially for online shops. Ratings and articles on Wikipedia or similar help to assess the seriousness of a company. In addition, customer service plays a huge role for sites where financial transactions are made. You should therefore provide an FAQ section in which relevant questions are clarified. It is also a positive signal to the search engine if the content is regularly checked and updated to ensure it is up-to-date.
So search engines like Google have learned to rate the relevance of a page based on its content and structure. They are also able to evaluate factors such as usability and UX from the user’s point of view. In 2017, it is therefore particularly important for you as an online marketer to understand the changing ranking factors and the continuous (technological) developments and to adapt your SEO strategy accordingly. In order not to lose your own ranking position or to achieve a better ranking, your search engine optimization must adapt to these changes more quickly. This also includes paying attention to the increasing relevance of the content: today it is primarily a matter of finding suitable answers to the intentions of the user and producing relevant content.
Content Marketing & SEO: a strategy that combines both
A good online marketing strategy should therefore definitely include both: content marketing and search engine optimization. In order to combine SEO and content marketing, you should consider a few aspects:
The content must be relevant and of high quality
The strategy should always focus on relevant content that offers the user added value. Because: Google can interpret the relevance in real time. It is important that you know your target group and tailor the concept to them. With the help of information sources such as market studies and keyword analyses, but also information from your own customer service and from surveys, you receive relevant information about your target group and can define which content and formats are of interest to them.
Set the goals of the campaign in advance: Do you want to increase your brand awareness or achieve as many conversions as possible? Depending on how your answer turns out, the content and your seeding must be aligned with this goal.
Make sure the content is of high quality . They should provide value to your readers and meet their needs. Google is also becoming better and better at recognizing high-quality content and giving it a high priority in the ranking. Quality is now the third most important ranking factor and contributes significantly to improving search results.
The content is also getting longer and longer . So if you examine a topic intensively, the article should contain at least 2000 words in order to achieve one of the top positions in the ranking. However, the length of the content always depends on the individual format, the topic and the depth of the content.
How do you achieve high content quality?
- It cannot be said enough: create your content primarily for your readers and not for the search engines.
- Invest time in writing the text: Research in advance which topics your readers are currently interested in and which questions they are looking for answers to (e.g. with the help of keyword research).
- Only publish accurate and well-researched content that meets reader expectations.
- Create grammatically correct, reader-friendly, descriptive text with a natural use of keywords.
- Offer readers value with infographics, downloads and other additional information.
- Be sure to write your texts yourself. Do not let tools generate them automatically and do not copy the texts from other websites.
- Don’t use any deception like hiding white text on a white background to rank for your keywords.
- Identify good content on your website using metrics (traffic, click-through rate, dwell time, and bounce rate) and learn from well-performing content.
A good page structure helps search engines and users
From an SEO point of view, it is also important to react adequately to Google’s better understanding of content. According to the Searchmetrics study, a proper page structure is also necessary for Google to understand and interpret the content of a page. And your readers will also find their way around better on a well-structured page.
- You should therefore definitely use H headings in hierarchical order. The H1 heading has a major impact on rankings and can only be used once per page.
- Internal links help the search engine to structure the page content . In addition, it provides the user with more information and encourages them to stay longer on the website – which in turn is a positive sign for Google.
- The title is still an important relevance factor and should definitely contain the main keyword of your site.
- According to the Searchmetrics study, social signals have no direct influence on the ranking. Nevertheless, they are an indication for marketers of how well the content is received by the target group. Social media is also great for sharing content. So that the user can share your content with as little effort as possible, you should always place share buttons for the most important social networks under your content. And backlinks are still an important indicator for the search engine to evaluate the content of a page.
- According to StatCounter, global mobile traffic exceeded desktop usage for the first time in October 2016. Google has already recognized this trend and also announced last year that the mobile index will replace the desktop index as the main index. For marketers, this means that a mobile-friendly site is imperative. Against this background, the loading times in particular should be optimized and the design made responsive. We will also deal with the so-called mobile-first index in more detail in our blog series.
So how does SEO affect content marketing? First and foremost, it becomes clear that there is no patent recipe that automatically achieves good rankings. The content produced must be of high quality so that it meets the needs of the users and encourages them to interact. In addition, the OnPage and OffPage factors of search engine optimization must not be neglected in order to achieve positioning as high as possible in the search results. Respond to new developments on the part of Google and quickly adapt your search engine optimization to the changes.