In the current age of digital marketing, content is widely considered king. By content, I am referring to written content. Every digital marketing business focuses heavily on it nowadays. You’ll find it in their About pages and their job descriptions, and it’s rare to even find a business without a blog. Content and marketing go hand in hand in the digital realm. However, you may have actually heard the term “content marketing” before, which is different than just content, as well as simple marketing.
I’ve been a freelance writer in the marketing world for four years and worked for a large part of that creating written content. I’ve also had a hand in search engine optimization (SEO) content writing. The two have a lot in common — both are forms of marketing, both work in large part through guest posts on other websites, and both involve the use of hyperlinks within the text. But the differences sometimes confuse businesses that are new to digital, written content. So here is a basic rundown of what each are, and how they might go together or be used in conjunction.
Content marketing is content written for the sole purpose of bringing people to conversion pages, and it is considered a very important practice right now. In fact, it was listed by Rutgers University as one of the top internet marketing trends. This is primarily done through hyperlinks. The idea is that someone will see the link in an article, click on it, and buy from the product or store page. Content marketing is about the hard sale or conversion.
This can go in two ways: through an article that mentions the product or other content designed to promote the product, such as an infographic. Some websites allow both as guest posts, but most are done by means of the former. The thing that separates content marketing apart from SEO content, though, is the bottom line, which is direct conversion.
Ah, the ever-elusive, mysterious “SEO” everyone is talking about. Moz.com defines SEO as “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” So what does this have to do with written content? Well, search engine rankings are often increased by the amount of quality hyperlinks to the website in question (you can read about Google’s algorithm and SEO at Search Engine Land).
The big difference between SEO content and content marketing comes, again, with the purpose. While both are used to ultimately create a conversion, all SEO work is used to increase a site or page’s rankings on a search engine for the keywords it wants to rank for. So, if I was doing SEO content for a luxury furniture company, I would try to write articles for other websites in which I linked to them in the content. Most likely, I would reference a resource they had, or talk about them directly, but I would use keywords they want to rank for on Google searches in the hyperlink or around it — luxury furniture, for instance. I would not usually link to product pages, either.
Combining Both Efforts With Internal Linking
So now the distinction between content marketing and SEO content has been made. This means that you can divvy up your efforts accordingly. While you want to promote your products, you don’t want to come off as spammy to the sites you are publishing content on. This may be where internal linking comes in.
The idea is that the resources on a website you link to for SEO purposes actually use content marketing tools. So using the furniture example again, if you’re linking to a piece on your home domain about the different kinds of wood used in coffee tables in an SEO article, you would want to make sure that the onsite article includes internal links to your product pages. That way, content marketing and SEO writing work together to accomplish both feats of bringing up the home domain in the search engine searches as well as bring traffic to the product page and hopefully (ultimately), bring conversion.
I’ve only touched on the effectiveness and potential of content marketing and SEO content, but both are vitally important in the digital age. Any questions? Critiques? Experience using content marketing or SEO content you’d like to share? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @Robolitious.
Robert Lanterman is a freelance writer and musician from Boise, ID, and as of recent lives in Queens, NY. He has worked in SEO, marketing, and public relations for the last four years. He runs Hidden Home Records, a record label dedicated to giving small bands in the punk community promotion to help traject their careers forward.
Do your product pages have enough content to attract search engines?