There is a misconception that SEO and content marketing are incompatible. 

Some marketers believe that an optimized article is simply stuffed with keywords and devoid of any true usefulness, or furthermore, compelling story, for the reader. But the truth is SEO and content marketing meet at an intersection of empathetic, yet efficient communication. 

Through SEO we know what our reader cares about or what problems they’re trying to solve for, and with content marketing, we deliver a personalized step-by-step solution

If your content isn’t optimized, it will be lost on the second, third, or fourth page of Google. Content Marketing needs SEO because after all, what is the point of making high-quality content if no one can find it?

Don’t get lost in Google’s content graveyard. Learn how to use content marketing to enhance your SEO and the three steps you can take to build an effective SEO content strategy.

Why SEO and Content Marketing Go Together

SEO is content marketing

Successful content marketing requires SEO. In the same respect, SEO needs content driven by keywords. 

By using relevant keywords in your content, you’ll rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Be aware: you can’t go around stuffing your pages with keywords or you’ll be penalized by Google. 

Primary and secondary keywords should be placed throughout content that is high-quality and relevant to your target audience’s specific needs. 

To get recognized as a valuable resource by Google, your business must create new and unique content that includes important keywords. Optimized content gets indexed faster and ranks higher in the SERPs. 

Content Marketing Best Practices to Improve Your SEO 

Create high-quality content

Create High-Quality Content for a Specific Audience

Let’s face it: low-quality content isn’t going to show up on search engines. Google uses bots to determine the relevance of content on website pages and other search engine techniques to push engaging, unique content to the front of the SERPs. 

To improve your SEO, create intriguing, long-form pieces between 1,000-3,000 words that include images, videos, and other types of visuals. Search engines recognize and reward high-quality content, so be sure to consistently post fresh content catered to your prospective customers’ interests

Essential Questions for Starting an SEO-Powered Content Strategy

  • Who is our content for? What do they care about?
  • Which essential buyer questions have we answered and which need content?
  • Which content exists? Which do we perceive to be the most effective?
  • Which queries does our content rank for? 
  • Which long-tail queries are not serviced through content? 
  • Which content themes will fall into our consistent production plan?
  • Which content should be repurposed? Retired?
  • Where are competitors thriving? Which keywords can we take advantage of?

Format Content For a Prime User Experience


Are you ready to implement an SEO content strategy? Do you have the proper foundation?

A clean site structure and strong interlinking doesn’t just help people navigate your site, it’s critical for site bots too. Google’s search algorithm always honor the user with updates focused on helping searchers find the information they need as painlessly as possible. For example, a preference for sites that load quickly on mobile.

Do you know if your site has issues in the back-end? Run a quick site audit to see.

What Are the Best Tools to Audit a Website?

  1. HubSpot Website Grader
  2. WooRank 
  3. SEMRush Site Audit 
  4. Google Search Console

Also, check out this great resource to dig into Google Analytics and diagnose any issues that may be alluding you in terms of how visitors interact with your site: Orbit Media’s How to Find Bugs, Bad URLs and Broken Links on Your Website.


Create query (questions) headers and start subheads with verbs. Break up paragraphs of text into step-by-step lists. Provide a great user experience for readers who love to skim and chances are you’re improving your SEO as well.

Remember, if your writing is easier to read, people are more likely to read all the way to the end, and hopefully, share it across their social channels. 


Another way to improve SEO is to add images, video, recordings, and other multimedia content. Not only are readers more likely to remember the visual information, Google sees a variety of mediums as a more complete resource.

It makes sense, right? Some people prefer videos while others like to read, so make sure to produce content in a variety of formats to appeal to the widest audience while also offering accessibility options.

3 Steps You Can Take to Build an Effective SEO Content Strategy 

Why keyword research is important to content marketing

1. Research Keywords for Content Creation 

Answering your target audience’s burning questions is how you earn their trust and eventually get them to buy from your business. 

Discover which keywords they are looking for online to craft content that appeals to their needs and optimize your website for search engines. 

Keywords that are highly targeted will lead to motivated prospective customers finding content on your website and converting. 

Start by choosing keywords that relate to your industry or the topic you are writing about. You can use keyword planning tools like Ahrefs, or Keywords Everywhere Extension

Answer the public keyword research

(Photo from Answer The Public)

Our Favorite Keyword Research Tools

  1. Frase
  2. Exploding Topics
  3. UberSuggest
  4. WordTracker
  5. Answer the Public
  6. SEMRush

To get the best results, look into hiring a quality content strategy firm that specializes in SEO to perform keyword research for your business. After all, there is *thinking* you know what your prospective customers are searching and there is knowing.

2. Create and Publish (Consistently) on Your Keyword Themes

Think about ideas and themes central to your brand promise. You’re the expert on your industry – what 3-5 topics are core to your business and yet align with a prospect’s needs? 


Business: interactive video platform
Goal: wants
to move from servicing smaller businesses and video creators to Enterprise clients. 

Broad Keyword Themes: interactive video, video marketing, video strategy, and enterprise video. 

Why are these important to the content we’ll create? Before you start any keyword research, discuss with your team and leadership why we’re going to focus on these areas. 

  • Interactive Video: core, central offering. 
  • Video Marketing: common use case or need for Enterprise buyer.
  • Video Strategy: focusing on strategy over one or two nice/flashy interactive videos (the customers we don’t want). An integrated strategy that is long-term and focused denotes more of an Enterprise marketing mindset.
  • Enterprise Video: searchers looking for Enterprise-specific qualities will be interested in the number of integrations, team member permissions, multi-authentication security, and platform flexibility. The list goes on. This is a deep topic with related subtopics and questions – each could have its own blog or how-to. We’ve updated our core offering to provide these features.

After you’ve nailed down your keyword themes, incorporate them into your content calendar. 

You should consistently hit on a keyword theme and related subtopics to show search engines that your domain is related to these terms. The above topics are broad enough that the business can rotate through each continually, supplying content on different aspects. It’s important to publish regularly on these themes to maintain a high listing in SERPs. 

Why do you need to publish regularly when undertaking an SEO Content Program? One great blog can get a high standing for a short time, but without additional content on the site, Google will eventually decide that the domain doesn’t have a strong alignment with that keyword theme or topic. 

Essentially, the domain has no authority in the space. 

So, the highly ranked blog article will fall to a less prominent page on Google SERP (search engine results page) unless related content is published and linked, often.

3. Track Keyword Rank and Success Metrics

Metrics or KPIs for SEO and content marketing

It’s vital to track your keyword ranking and success metrics to understand how well your content is performing and where you can improve. Use Google Analytics to track SEO metrics such as organic search traffic, time-on-site, bounce rate, and new versus returning users. 

Combining a Google Analytics account with a Google Search Console account can produce even greater results. On Search Console, you can access a keyword report, average ranking positions, impressions, and various other metrics.

Our favorite way to track success? Position Tracking, which we measure using a tool by SEMrush. Building a custom keyword list of words a brand wants to rank for (including those of their competitors) we measure the total  “share of search.”

For an SEO-powered content strategy, this is key. After all, what’s the point of keyword research and consistent publishing if we don’t rank on page one for our key business terms? An increase in traffic is great, but all businesses want more qualified traffic. 

Our Favorite Tools to Monitor Page Rank

  1. The Hoth Search Engine Rankings Tool
  2. Google Search Console (check out Chapter 3 of this guide for the perfect how-to)
  3. SEMRush’s Position Tracking Tool (and be sure to use the competitor comparison gap tool to measure any opportunities to steal SERP placement away)

blog rank position reporting

Content marketing comes with a lot of distractions but SEO and a clear “need to win” on page 1, provide a razor-like focus. 

And while out-ranking competitors and stealing interested traffic from these same sites should be its own joy, if you’re keen to attribute an ROI to search dominance, do this:

ROI? Simply calculate the cost-per-click on these same keywords and estimate how much it would cost to bring the same qualified traffic to your site via a PPC campaign.


Content marketing and SEO aren’t in competition with each other. They are two concepts that complement each other and must be combined to produce the best results for your business.

By merging high-quality content and SEO tactics, your content will be seen by your target audience and move up in search engine rankings. Although SEO techniques are always changing, as of 2019, one of the best ways to get in front of the right people and send leads right to your website is to execute a solid SEO content strategy

Want to learn more about SEO? Some of our favorite authorities in the space are listed below:

Top SEO and Content Marketing Blogs (2020)

If you found this post helpful, check out even more informative articles on content strategy and content marketing on the Shine Content Strategy blog

If you enjoyed this post, check out even more content marketing resources, like: 

This post was originally published September 25th, 2019. It was updated May 21st, 2020 with additional information.