Should you invest in SEO or a content strategy?

2018 has arrived, meaning it’s time to decide where to spend your marketing dollars. But what exactly should you be investing in? Is pure SEO the way to go, or do you need a content strategy to take your business to the next level? SEO and content strategies intersect in more ways than one—and you’ll want to spend time developing both to properly create, optimize, and share your content.

Why invest in SEO?

When users search for keywords or queries related to your site, choosing the right SEO tactics will make your pages more likely to appear at the top of search results. By investing in SEO, you’ll attract more attention online, increase your visibility and credibility, and ensure that you’re delivering relevant results to users.

Search results do matter

In order to get your content in front of the right people, you have to make sure it’s properly ranking for the relevant keywords—and this all starts with keyword research.

Keyword research is the bread and butter of SEO. It’s how you discover popular words and phrases that people are using online. Putting more marketing dollars towards keyword research can improve the odds that your content will show up for queries your audience is actively searching for.

The higher you are in the search results, the more credibility you will build with your audience. Think about it: when you search for an answer on Google, do you tend to trust the results in the top search positions more than the results on page two or three? With an estimated 75 percent of clicks going to the top five search positions on Google, investing in keyword research is an essential part of any healthy content marketing strategy.

You may be over-optimizing

Many brands and marketers know that SEO is important, but don’t actually understand search engine algorithms. We don’t blame you—search engines are constantly changing their criteria. Google, for example, can update their algorithm 500+ times a year But stuffing your content with each and every keyword you want to rank for won’t get you the results you’re after. Often, less is more: strategically inserting one or two longtail keywords (keywords that are longer and more specific) into your stories can help you rank in the most relevant searches and deliver valuable results to the right users.

You should also spend time figuring out search intent. For example, here at Quietly, we would rather get the attention of the person who’s searching for “content marketing agencies for e-commerce”—where it’s clear what the user is looking for—than someone who’s just searching “content marketing,” who may be seeking advice on their own efforts or simply researching the topic. This isn’t to say that there’s no value in non-specific terms, but for most businesses looking for a direct ROI, optimizing for keywords with higher search intent makes a lot of sense, even if they have lower overall search volume.

Your website will thank you

There’s a lot more to SEO than selecting the right keywords. Google’s algorithm awards websites with quick load times on both desktop and mobile devices. They also give preferential treatment to websites with responsive designs. Last, but not least, Google cares about your website’s security. Is it HTTPS? Does it have SSL certification? Does the site have a history of security problems? Search engines need to serve users first, so a good user experience almost always equals good SEO. Taking a holistic approach to SEO helps you stay in search engines’ good graces while improving the user experience across your site.

Chances are, you’ve already been guilty of one or more technical SEO mistakes. Investing time and money into SEO best practices is a good way to rise above the noise and make sure you’re properly using keywords to your advantage and not getting penalized for over-optimizing.

Why invest in a content strategy?

Anyone who’s interested in content marketing should also be thinking about their content strategy. A content strategy is a collection of tactics that help increase your audience, convert customers, and grow brand awareness through content. If you rely on content as an integral part of your marketing mix, investing in a content strategy will help ensure you’re being smart and intentional about what you’re publishing and where you’re publishing it.

We look at a variety of factors when shaping our strategies for clients—external search trends; competitors’ content; a client’s own historical analytics; more niche sources. It is this diligent research that informs our content strategies so that our ideas don’t just sound good, but also react to and predict our audience’s questions and interests. In addition to pleasing our audience with valuable content, there are many benefits to investing in a solid content strategy.

Keep your customers on site longer

Creating killer content and publishing it consistently is key when you want to increase the average time on your site. Google rewards websites that provide visitors with useful and relevant information, and one way they track this is by the amount of time spent on each page. If your content accrues a ton of clicks but each one immediately bounces, search engines take that into consideration. When visitors spend more time on your site, Google understands that people are having a positive experience—which ultimately boosts your ranking. By knowing what your readers want and giving them high-value content, you can start gaining traction—both in the eyes of your audiences and search engines—that helps you build brand credibility.

Once again, you’ll improve your search rankings

This is where the overlap between SEO and editorial comes in—content isn’t only for your customers. It’s what tells search engines who you are and what you’re worth. The copy and keywords that make up each of your articles help Google understand your website and how to rank it. This goes for your blog posts, homepage, website copy, and so on. It seems dead obvious, but it’s worth saying: without any content, your website wouldn’t wind up on any search engines. In fact, 72 percent of marketers say relevant content creation is their most effective SEO tactic.

Backlinks are another clear cut way for search engines to recognize that your website is useful for online users. The only way to rack up these links is by creating compelling content that people understand as authoritative. This is not easy work, but for anyone putting together a content strategy, it should be at the top of their list. If you can produce interesting, valuable content, other websites will be more likely to link to it.

Why you should invest in both

When it really comes down to it, you can’t invest in SEO without also investing in content. Your content strategy is what helps promote search engine optimization by its use of keywords and ability to attract online attention.

At the end of the day, it’s in search engines’ best interest to deliver the highest quality and most relevant content to their users. However, because search engines aren’t perfect (if they were, you’d only ever get one result: the best one), SEO is here to help. With excellent, relevant content, search engines will find you in the long term; sprinkling in some SEO speeds up the process.

You should be thinking about SEO and your content strategy in tandem: your SEO research undoubtedly gives you a better sense of what your audience wants, while your content strategy ensures that you’re publishing on channels and in formats that gain traction online. If you want to succeed at one, you need to succeed in the other.

We help brands and publishers create amazing content. If you’re looking to invest in both areas of your website, Quietly can help. Contact us today.

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