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What is the difference between content marketing and SEO?

3 minute read

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In today’s #asktheukdomain video I answer the question: “What is the difference between content marketing and SEO?”.

Two very connected activities, I’ll look at the definitions of both content marketing and SEO (search engine optimisation). I also look at how SEO impacts content marketing and similarly the impact content marketing can have on SEO.

Video Transcript

♪ [music] ♪ Hello, and welcome to The UK Domain. Today’s question comes from Thomas via email, who asks, “What is the difference between content marketing and SEO?” Content marketing and SEO are two very connected activities and disciplines, so I can understand where this question has come from. To start off, I’m going to give two definitions, one for content marketing and one for SEO.

Then I’m going to look at how SEO impacts on content marketing and lastly, how content marketing impacts on SEO. And hopefully, that explains what the differences are. So, the first definition, I’ve taken this from the Content Marketing Institute which says, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, and ultimately to drive profitable customer action.”

So, there’s a few things that are really important here. First is that it’s strategic. So, you’ve thought about objectives. You’ve thought about what you’re going to measure. You’ve thought about the approach. It’s about creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content. It acknowledges a clearly-defined audience. So, it’s not just content, it’s that you’ve thought about who the content is for, and ultimately to drive profitable customer action.

Now, you could argue that this definition could be expanded beyond profitable customer action because sometimes content may be for education. It may be for brand awareness. But for many businesses, ultimately, it’s profitable customer action that matters the most.

The second definition comes from Search Engine Land, which says, “SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of getting traffic from free, organic or natural search results and search engines.” So again, when you do a search on a search engine, most of the time we’re talking about Google, you’ve got the paid listings at the top.

That’s not SEO. That’s PPC or AdWords where advertisers are paying to appear at the top. SEO is about getting traffic from appearing highly in the natural or organic search results. So, content marketing and SEO are really, really connected because SEO feeds into content marketing and makes content marketing more effective, and content marketing feeds into SEO and makes that more effective.

So, if we looked at content marketing from a content marketer’s perspective, and thought about, “How does SEO impact it?” Well, content marketing, first of all is not a channel. Content marketing is an approach to marketing that encompasses SEO, social media, email, PR. Lots and lots of different channels feed into what content marketing is.

If you think about content marketing and one thing in this definition that says, “To distribute content”, well, how do you distribute content to your audience? Sure, you may have customers who come back to your website very regularly, so they just come back via direct traffic, for example. But search engines are a very, very important source of traffic for your content. So, for content marketing to be effective, you need to get people to that content, and search engines can be one of the biggest drivers of traffic to the content. So, that’s how SEO impacts content marketing.

Now, if we looked at SEO, well, how does… you know, what does someone who’s a practitioner in SEO do in order to get their website to appear highly in search engines? Well, one of the most important things is that you need good content. First of all, Google needs to come to your website and see strong, relevant, informative content, and also, you need links to your website. And why do people link to you? There’s a whole bunch of reasons, but one of those reasons is they link to you because your content was valuable. So, in order to achieve good results from SEO, you need very good content.

So, content marketing and SEO, really, really clearly connected. One impacts the other, but take away the fact that SEO is a channel. It’s a source of traffic. Content marketing is a broader approach that encompasses lots of different channels, where SEO is one part of it. I hope that’s helped you. If you have a question you would like to ask us, just use the hashtag, #asktheukdomain, and we’ll make a video answering your question. ♪ [music] ♪

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Peter is the Head of Content at Nominet. He's passionate about helping small businesses make the most of being online, especially through the use of content marketing.

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