According to a study, 90.63% of content on the internet gets zero traffic from Google.
Let's examine how content marketing and SEO are connected and what you can do to create content that's in the 9.37% that does.
The easiest way to understand the relationship between content marketing and SEO is to start from the end and work your way backward.
Bear with me!
What are the desired results of Content Marketing and SEO?
The desired result of content marketing is to create content that provides value to customers in order to drive positive business results.
The desired result of SEO is quite simply for your content to win the Google SERP in order to attract eyes to your business.
You can see that there's a codependent relationship between content marketing and SEO.
Both are necessary for you to achieve the desired business results.
Take either of them out of the equation and everything falls apart.
Therein lies the connection between content marketing and SEO.
Content marketing and SEO are complementary frameworks that work together to achieve the result of reaching targeted audiences, attracting them, and helping them solve their problems as means of doing business.
Think of it this way, if your core business is the upper body, content marketing and SEO are the two legs that have to work together for your core business to "go places."
If one leg is strong and the other one is weak and lagging, it gets much harder to move around.
In other words, if you're just pushing out content without any awareness of SEO, you're making it unnecessarily hard for yourself.
The same is true the other way around too.
Today's landscape in most niches is so competitive that businesses can't afford to neglect either.
Because their competition won't.
What's the foundation of Content Marketing and SEO?
We've established that content marketing and SEO go together like hand in glove.
But before you jump into content creation, you need to understand the concept of search intent.
Search intent (aka user intent or keyword intent) is the why behind every Google search.
What is Peter trying to find out when he types "mattress for back pain" into Google?
Do you think Peter wants to learn about the process of making a mattress for back pain or do you think he's looking for a product recommendation?
You can bet the farm Peter is looking for product recommendations – and Google knows it.
He doesn't care one bit about how the mattress is made or what from.
He just wants to know what mattress he should buy to finally get a good night's rest and avoid developing or worsening his lower back pain.
Why is it crucial to create content that's 100% on the mark when it comes to search intent?
Only content that solves the problem for any given search query is useful to Google and that's the only content that stands the chance of ranking.
Miss the search intent and Google will drop your content like a hot potato no matter how well it's produced.
How do you make sure not to miss the search intent?
Simply perform a quick search yourself and see what type of content Google considers relevant for your search query.
Now that you've learned how important search intent is, we can move on to content creation.
What's more important: Content or SEO?
To avoid giving you a not-so-useful answer to this question like "it depends" or "both," let's exaggerate things and consider this hypothetical scenario.
Let's say we have two content creators sitting down to write a piece of content on the same keyword.
Person A is the leading expert on the topic capable of creating amazing content that solves all the problems people searching for this keyword might have, but Person A doesn't know anything about SEO.
Person B knows everything about SEO but their subject matter expertise is nonexistent.
Provided that their sites hold equal authority in Google's eyes, would more useful and in-depth content win or would better-optimized but shallow content win?
A few years back, when Google's algorithm was considerably cruder, the answer would be: the better-optimized content wins.
Since then, Google's algorithm has become more sophisticated and it reads and understands the content on a much higher level.
Now, in my opinion, the more useful and in-depth piece of content created by an expert would win, all other things being equal.
However, the key part here is the "all other things being equal" part.
SEO is still tremendously important.
Person B (SEO expert) can still outrank Person A (topic expert) down the line by getting more backlinks to their domain and article.
As sophisticated as it is, Google's algorithm is still an algorithm with all its rules and ranking factors.
However, since we allowed our hypothetical SEO expert a chance to spend time and do their magic after the article has been published, we have to allow our topic expert some leeway too.
Let's assume Person A (topic expert) decides to learn a bit about SEO and starts employing some of the same techniques as Person B (SEO expert).
At that point, he could start competing with Person B on the SEO front.
Because this is inevitable – everyone serious about publishing content online eventually starts grasping the concepts of SEO and improving their skills.
Once again, the conclusion from the start of the article is reaffirmed: content marketing and SEO are inseparable.
So, in closing, what's more important: content or SEO?
My answer - content is king!
To focus on the connection between content marketing and SEO would be to not see the forest for the trees.
Content marketing and SEO are both necessary in today's competitive landscape of online business.
Content marketers need SEO and SEO experts need content marketing if both of their business goals involve reaching an audience through search engines like Google.
If you're sold on the whole content marketing business model, creating a strong content marketing strategy is your next step.
Feel free to check out my article series on this topic prominently featured on the homepage.