Content and SEO go together like peas and carrots, steak and potatoes, macaroni and - well, you get the picture. They are so interwoven in the world of online marketing that you quite literally cannot have one without the other. Just in case you have been living a monastic life free of technology for the past decade, SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of enhancing or modifying a website, web page, or other online material to make it more appealing to search engines and thus achieve better ranking on search results.
The reason content and SEO are so irrevocably linked is because, in almost every instance, optimizing your online presence means you are doing so with the content itself. Just a handful of SEO guidelines and strategies apply to activities that don't have anything to do with content and focus instead on other aspects of a website or web page.
If content is king, where does SEO fit in?
Several years ago, the concept of content marketing surged to the forefront of the collective SEO consciousness. Marketers, content creators, and business professionals were confused; what did content marketing have to do with SEO? Was it replacing search engine optimization? Were the battle cries of "Content is king!" and "SEO is dead!" really true?
Content truly is king when it comes to attracting and engaging your audience, generating leads, strengthening B2C relationships, and establishing yourself as an authoritative leader and expert in your chosen industry or niche. Rather than being dead, however, SEO is the 'crown' worn by content to achieve those objectives and many more.
Properly applied SEO gives content the equivalent of what a crown gives to a king - rank, authority, credibility, and influence.
How can SEO be properly applied?
When SEO first gained ground as a method of manipulating information to achieve higher ranking in search results, the process was largely that - one of manipulation. Tactics and techniques were used that focused solely on influencing a search engine to view the content as more valuable than competing information.
Search engines today are using extremely advanced algorithms, rule-sets, and ranking factors to evaluate and rank online content when providing it in response to a searcher's query. Because the focal point of these algorithms and ranking factors is to deliver content that is the most relevant to a searcher's wants or needs, marketers and business professionals have been forced to rapidly adapt or quickly disappear.
Adapting to meet the requirements of search engines to achieve better ranking and higher visibility has compelled a shift in SEO to create content that appeals to and influences users first and foremost, rather than search engines only. In fact, content that has been optimized almost entirely with search algorithms in mind often finds itself at the back of the pack in terms of search result ranking.
Search engines want content and SEO that focuses on the searcher's wants and needs. Creating content and applying SEO practices that put the user experience at the center of the process ensures that you are automatically doing so for the search engines, too. This is because the search engines themselves are making an optimal user experience the focus of their own practices and processes.
Between content and SEO, which is more important?
Because you cannot have effective content, in the eyes of searchers and search engines alike, without applying SEO best practices, and you can't apply those practices if you have no content of value, neither is technically more vital or important than the other. They coexist together to function in unison to help you successfully reach objectives and goals you have established for your business as part of your overall marketing strategy.
Marketing strategies relating to content are not meant to be separate from those dealing with SEO. To the contrary, content is the heart of an effective and successful marketing venture, and search engine optimization is what makes it beat. Content and SEO, used together to support and reinforce each other, should be the foundation and focus of your overall marketing efforts.