In the age of the influencer, it can be easy to forget about other approaches to marketing, such as SEO. But SEO is alive and well, and isn’t going anywhere, thank you very much. In fact, SEO content marketing is a valuable tactic for marketers everywhere. If you aren’t putting search first in your content marketing strategy, your brand is missing out.

What Is SEO Content Marketing?

In the simplest of terms, SEO content marketing is content marketing that focuses on getting good results in search. It’s content marketing that recognizes the important role search results play in getting people to click on and check out a piece of content, whether it’s a blog post, video, or quiz.

Over at Kissmetrics, Neil Patel points out that SEO and content marketing overlap. While you might be able to have content marketing without SEO, you can’t have SEO without content. Otherwise, what would people find when they did a search online? A few empty websites or sparse information, which wouldn’t be helpful at all.

SEO content marketing features several components that increase a piece of content’s chances of getting into the top spot on the search engine results page. Those components include:

Keywords

People type keywords into a search engine to find whatever they’re looking for. Every piece of content — even videos and images — has keywords behind it. For example, a blog post about decorating for Halloween might feature the keywords “Halloween decorations.”

Quality

Once upon a time, SEO put keywords above all else. That led to a lot of mess and crappy content. Now, SEO puts a considerable amount of focus on the quality of the content. A solid article or video tutorial about Halloween decorations will rank higher than one that just happens to contain the keyword phrase “Halloween decorations” over and over.

Links

Link building is another key component of SEO. Having other high-quality sites link back to your content will boost its ranking in the search results. Linking out to other high-quality sites will also help to give your content a boost. For example, a how-to for Halloween decorations might link out to Martha Stewart or other expert, crafty websites. In 2016, Google stated that links were among the top three most important SEO components.

Mobile readiness

As more and more people conduct searches on mobile devices (94 percent of local searches are on mobile devices), mobile friendliness is playing a bigger role in search rankings. When creating SEO content, think about how it will look on screens both large and small. Does your brand use responsive design on its blog, or have a separate URL for mobile search?

Why You Should Care About SEO Content Marketing

“But isn’t search dead?” you might be asking. “Didn’t Google’s Panda/Penguin/whatever updates kill off SEO for good?”

Not really. Search is very much not dead. In 2016, there were more than 2.6 million searches on Google every minute. A five-minute Google outage in 2013 caused global Internet traffic to drop by 40 percent. People still very much depend on search to get what they need online.

But why worry about ranking high in organic search results when you can just pay for the privilege? Well, organic results pay off more than paid search results. An eye-tracking study from GfK revealed that only 25 percent of users glanced at the ads that appeared on the side of search results. You could pay to guarantee that your content makes it to the front page, or you could focus on SEO to help it land there naturally.

The 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE) had a similar finding. Consumers in the US gave “unpaid search results on a search engine” a mean effectiveness rating of 6.8 (out of 10). Paid search was ranked lower, earning a rating of 6.4.

How to Make the Most of SEO Content Marketing

Often, content marketing and SEO are placed into two separate camps. Your brand might have a team dedicated to content marketing and another team dedicated to your website’s SEO. For SEO content marketing to succeed, however, you need to bring those two teams together.

Once you’ve done that, here’s what else you can do to make the most of SEO content marketing.

Have a goal in mind

Having a goal is essential, whether you’re focusing on creating content or optimizing search results. What do you want your content to accomplish? Get as specific as possible, so that you know what you’re working toward. Do you want to be number one in search results for a particular keyword, or will you settle for making it into the top 10 (first page) results? Why are you creating content? What benefit will it offer your audience? What do you want the audience to do after reading or viewing the content?

Do keyword research

Before you start creating content, it’s important to do some keyword research. What are people looking for? The more popular your keyword, the more competition there might be — but the more likely people will be to search for you, too.

Don’t forget your audience

One of the major flaws of early-day SEO was that it ignored the audience. Brands and companies were so intent on getting high search rankings and clicks that they didn’t focus on producing quality, engaging content. Don’t do that. Make sure your content is useful, funny, or helpful. If it’s not, you’ll be able to tell, as people will click away from it quickly and won’t share it with their friends.

Optimize your keywords

Keyword optimization is part art and part science. You don’t want to awkwardly stuff your keywords into the content, but you also don’t want to act like they don’t matter at all. They matter, at least a little bit. Generally speaking, it’s better to use keywords in the title of your content, the description, the headings, the alt text for images, and the URL. Beyond that, you can include keywords in the text, but don’t go overboard and don’t try to cram in keywords where they just don’t make syntactical or grammatical sense.

Promote your content

Wait, isn’t SEO going to promote the content for you? In some ways, yes, but you can give it a leg up by promoting it yourself. Remember, high-quality links back to your content give it a boost in search. Share your content on social media and wherever else seems appropriate.

Create a schedule and stick to it

Here’s another way SEO and content marketing go hand in hand: The more content you create, the better your search rankings. Make up an editorial calendar and aim to publish one new piece of content at least once a week. You can mix up your content types if you wish, just as long as you have something fresh for your audience and the search engines on a consistent basis.