If you publish a piece of content and no one knows it exists, is it really furthering your strategy? We hate to break it to you but if you’re doing content marketing or SEO without the other, you’re likely not reaping the full benefits of either. 

Bill Gates once said, “Content is king,” for good reason. Spanning the entire funnel with distribution across owned, earned, paid, and shared channels, content marketing is the lifeblood of any marketing program. It’s how your prospects get to know your business and learn how your products and services align to their needs before they make any purchasing decisions. But with shorter consumer attention spans and more competition cropping up every day, the harsh reality is that on its own, content doesn’t do much or go very far if you don’t tell your target audience that it exists or where to find it. 

That’s where the multiplier effects of digital marketing come in. SEO strategies are designed to improve search engine result rankings for pages optimized with relevant keywords. SEO-optimized content is essential to begin ranking or improve rankings for competitive keyword positions. Without a place to host your keywords, your dreams of topping the search results are dashed before you’ve even had a chance. That’s right, content is the lifeblood of SEO as well. 

So how do these two work together, and how can you multiply the effectiveness of both for your startup?

Effective SEO and Content Marketing: When Tactics Collide, Magic Happens

Peanut butter and jelly. Pen and paper. Batman and Robin. Some things just go together and in the world of startup marketing, content and digital are a dynamic duo for the ages. 

Think about the natural progression of the modern buyer journey. When today’s digitally driven consumers have a problem, they’ll open their preferred search engine, type in some terms related to their pain points or needs, and – if your hard SEO work has paid off – they’ll come across your business in the results. Great! So, now what? 

Content marketing is your organization’s “and then what” for digital marketing. SEO drives traffic to your website, and content marketing takes the baton and runs with it from there. Your content is your chance to educate and engage, and hook your prospects beyond that initial click of interest. Your website copy, blogs, gated assets, videos, podcasts, and so on all play a valuable role in proving your value to customers in the decision-making stages of the journey. But without SEO teeing up that website visitor for your content marketing to drive home in the first place, the odds that your new customer would have found your business or product completely organically are slim.  

The same is true for your PR efforts, which is why we place such a heavy emphasis on compounding impact with Multiplier Marketing. But content and SEO are unarguably intertwined and work best when used together. Here’s how we’ve put this partnership into practice for some of our clients:

    • To provide the best opportunities for visibility in the SERPs for a global leader in digital security, Firebrand created an SEO strategy that propelled the firm to the top of Google’s rankings for a highly-desirable and competitive keyword. Today, our client ranks ahead of other major players including CISA.gov, Microsoft, AT&T, SANS Institute, and Tech Target. Once visitors arrive on the company’s site from their search, they’re met with full-funnel content assets that can convert all of this traffic into known leads and guide them through the buyer journey.
    • Our work with a multimodal synthetic data platform is a carefully constructed blend of technical and creative. Our SEO strategy is boosting visibility in Google Search results, raising critical keyword rankings, and improving site health via technical SEO support. When new site content is developed for marketing purposes, SEO best practices are employed to ensure the best organic ranking opportunities. Adhering to an SEO Information Architecture allows teams to create new content without concerns of keyword cannibalization. At the same time, we’re developing a series of gated assets to turn those website visitors into known leads, case studies to prove the impact the company makes for its clients, and segmented email nurture campaigns to warm new leads. 
    • Our SEO and content marketing teams also played a pivotal role during the launch of a new portfolio company focused on driving product innovation. The company originated as four separate businesses that were acquired and combined to maximize their capabilities. We wanted to maximize their new web presence, too. Our content team ensured it had strong thought leadership, a cohesive brand voice, and a comprehensive website on day one by refreshing over a dozen blog posts from the original four companies. At the same time, our digital team created a comprehensive redirect plan to transfer all of the SEO juice from the original companies to the new site. Our content, digital, and PR teams continue to work closely with this client’s team to drive traffic, generate leads, and publish thought leadership and sales enablement content. 
    • Another great example of using SEO and content marketing to help small startup marketing teams scale comes from our work with a digital workspace provider for accountants. We rolled out a comprehensive SEO content strategy – including keyword optimizations to existing pages, a series of glossaries to optimize for Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines, a content clustering strategy, and several technical SEO audits – then taught their small team how to continue executing. At the same time, we developed a lead generation content marketing strategy that placed a heavy focus on creating and repurposing longer-form assets to fill the entire funnel. As their team grew, we stayed on to provide email, landing page, and CTA recommendations to help maximize conversions.

SEO and Content Marketing Best Practices to Get the Best of Both World

There are a few practices you can adopt today to help ensure you’re getting the most from both content and SEO. The first is to create content with organic search in mind. When researching topics for content development, use keyword research platforms such as SEMrush and Moz to identify the most relevant and best-performing keywords to include. Consider how to use the top keywords for your page title and section headers, and be sure to use these keywords in the SEO title tag and meta description. These elements send signals to search engines regarding what your content is about so be loud and clear to give your content the best chance for visibility by ranking well in search engines. You can get a deeper understanding of effective SEO strategies in our guide to SEO best practices and avoid pitfalls by reviewing our guide to the 5 biggest content marketing mistakes startups make.

That said, make sure you aren’t sacrificing readability for rankings. You may at times have to get creative with how you integrate certain keywords or phrases into your content, but don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Stop and assess. If there’s no good way to use a specific keyword in context, then that term likely doesn’t belong in that particular piece of content in the first place. Likewise, if there’s no way of incorporating a keyphrase without it reading awkwardly, don’t force it. Leaving out a keyword or phrase here or there isn’t going to tank your entire SEO effort, but having content that isn’t enjoyable to read will certainly undermine the effectiveness of your content marketing. When given the choice between potentially ranking higher for a specific keyword or producing readable content, choose content. 

If you know your SEO and content marketing programs could be performing better, but aren’t sure how to get there, we can give you a temperature check. Our SEO, Content Marketing, and Paid Media audits are a deep dive into your strategies and data, followed by a path forward for ultimate success.

About the Author

Shane is Vice President of Digital Marketing at Firebrand Communications. Bringing over 15 years of digital marketing experience he provides clients with strategic insight and program execution aligned to achieve measurable growth. Prior to Firebrand, Shane had led digital departments for PR and advertising agencies, delivering successful marketing programs for enterprise and consumer brands.