People tend to underestimate the value of content marketing as part of an SEO strategy. It takes time to create high-quality content, so many businesses fail to see why they should invest so much effort into it. However, in reality, content marketing generates 3x as many leads as traditional marketing and costs significantly less, so the return on investment is immense!

In 2023, roughly 70% of companies use content marketing because a strong, content-focused strategy is one of the most sure-fire ways to get to the top of the SERPs. This article will cover how content marketing is valuable to SEO, and what you can do to craft high-quality content that both users and search engines will love.

The Relationship Between Content Marketing and SEO

Your written content doesn’t always have to be optimised for SEO - blog articles can celebrate individual or company achievements, show off the team, recount recent events or conferences you’ve attended, share important news, and more. This kind of content wouldn’t be searched for by users, and instead keeps your company transparent, showcasing the people behind the business and engaging with users. 

However, content marketing should always be a foundational part of your SEO strategy. Both content marketing and SEO, by design, work to prove to Google that your business is trustworthy and help you to better understand your market and how to reach them organically. 

Content marketing is used in SEO to: 

#1 Drive traffic to the website and generate leads

SEO is a broad field, encompassing a wide variety of methods to optimise websites for search engines. Writing content is a great way to implement SEO practices with new pages - while optimising existing pages for keywords, fixing and redirecting broken pages, and using metrics to see how changes are performing.

Once you have a strong grip on your target market and the kind of things they may search for, content marketing is a great way to reel them in. Hopes Grove Nurseries, a supplier of hedging and garden plants in Kent, started writing informative content to draw in users who may be interested in purchasing hedging plants and gardening tools. Their article about Bee Friendly Flowers is a great example of strong SEO content because it is tailored around several common search queries. If you see below, a fair number of people search for “bee-friendly flowers”, and related queries like “what are bee-friendly flowers”, so Hopes Grove produced strong, high-quality content that can draw in those queries year after year, and as such it continues to perform exceptionally well.

#2 Create brand awareness, establishing credibility for the brand

So, you’ve been consistently writing exhaustive blog posts about garden plants - you’ve left no stone unturned, providing descriptive care advice and telling users about their origins, qualities and ideal planting conditions.

This activity signals to readers (as well as search engines) that you are an expert on garden plants - therefore, when they’re looking to buy plants for their own gardens, they will be more likely to recall your brand. You have already established your credibility through the amazing things you’ve written, so they are far more likely to trust your products and buy from you. 

#3 Attract reputable backlinks

If your content is unique enough, it will be shared, helping to establish a healthy backlink profile that will improve your website’s authority score. Note that this is only true if the backlinks come from good sources; Google can tell the difference between a spammy source to an authoritative one that is related to your industry, so never try to force backlinks.

To stick with the previous example, the blog post from Hopes Grove Nurseries above has been picked up by journalists several times, for instance with Stamford Mercury’s World Bee Day 2022 article. Some other great backlinks for a business selling garden plants could be from:

  • Someone reviewing the products or referencing your articles on their own platform
  • A local news story on your business
  • An avid home gardener citing that they buy from you on social media
  • An event you’re taking part in linking back to you from their landing page
  • Your own off-page brand promotion (through social media, YouTube, podcasts, etc.) 

Now let’s delve into why content marketing plays this role in SEO, and how you have to write to get the best results.


How to Create “Valuable” and Search-Friendly Content

In order to write amazing content that will play an important role in an SEO strategy, you have to make sure it is valuable. “Valuable” is a fairly subjective word, but Google’s Helpful Content Update established the clear criteria they use to assess whether or not content is valuable. Google says content should show:

  • Experience: This E of the “EEAT” acronym was recently introduced as a response to the emergence of widespread AI content. To differentiate your content from AI content, it should be filled with personal experiences. The easiest way to tackle this is to remind the user of the people behind the company - showcasing your team’s personality and unique tone of voice in what you write can help you to achieve this objective.
  • Expertise: Google wants to ensure that you’re qualified to be sharing information about your chosen subject. Their job is to show their users the correct answers to their questions, so you in turn need to show them that you’re the person to supply those answers. This ties nicely into the Experience part of EEAT - if you emphasise how long you’ve been in the industry and make your experience in your sector plain to see, you should be fine.
  • Authoritativeness: An authoritative piece of content is one designed that satisfies user intent - if the content you write is consistently clear and answers user queries satisfactorily, it will be recognised with a good authority score. The more you write about a specific subject, the more you can establish yourself as an authoritative source of information on it. 
  • Trustworthiness: Establishing trust and credibility helps develop a positive brand perception and gain loyal users, as engaged readers are more likely to return to your website. Ultimately, what this all boils down to is that search engines want to see that you care about providing a great user experience and that you aren’t wasting their time with empty fluff or misleading them. Successfully proving that you’re trustworthy will be rewarded by bumping you up to the top of the SERPs. 

So this is valuable content - how do we make it search-friendly?

In order to write search-friendly content as part of your SEO strategy, you have to think about user experience and user intent. Here at Reflect Digital, we use behavioural science to successfully encourage desired actions. Here are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to ensure your content is tailored to your target market:

  • Where is the user on the buyer journey? Building a strong relationship with your audience requires an understanding of their behaviour and preferences, and it helps you stand out from competitors. This can be achieved in simple ways - for instance, consider why they might want your content. The majority of users looking for blog post content will be in the Awareness stage of the buyer funnel - they know they have a pain/need, but are unsure of how to satisfy it. You should meet this by exploring all their possible options and helping to educate them on the topic. It’s worth making yourself familiar with buyer journeys, as this is the easiest way to implement human behaviour into your content marketing strategy and better understand your target market. 
  • What questions do they have about this subject? You could brainstorm this or run surveys, but the easiest way to understand what questions users have is to use a tool such as SEMrush. Say for example,  you search “garden flowers” using the Keyword Magic Tool and filter by questions - long-tail keywords like “how to plant a flower garden” and “what flowers to plant in a raised garden bed” may appear, which can provide great inspiration for new content that satisfies these queries. Knowing what questions audiences have is also a great way to start understanding and mapping out pain points. Once you understand users’ pain points you can identify suitable behavioural interventions and nudges to encourage users along the user journey and towards conversion. 
  • What are your competitors doing/not doing? It’s quite likely that the subject you want to write about will have been covered before, so do what you can to add your unique perspective to the conversation! Search the main keywords and see what ranks highly for them - this gives a good indication of what users are finding valuable. You should also examine the “People Also Ask” section on the search results page - this sometimes indicates what kinds of questions users are having that aren’t being sufficiently answered by the top results. That could be your way in!
  • Why should users care about this content? While this may not affect user intent, it certainly affects user experience. We live in a very statistically driven world, but the decision-making process is mostly an emotional one - if you want people to invest in your product, service or mission, then you have to appeal to that emotive reasoning. It makes the content more memorable too; an article that strikes a chord with users is far more likely to inspire the behaviour you want to see from them, whether that’s discussing the article, sharing it online, returning to it, or progressing through the buyer journey. Appeal, again, to the fact that Google (and users) like content that shows lived experience, and this should help you understand what will engage readers beyond a practical need.


Key Takeaways

Content marketing is important to SEO because it is a clear way to show that your brand has unique insights that users will find useful. Valuable content should strive to actually help its readers, and clear, accessible SEO content is primed to assist the user journey by consciously responding to what your target market wants and needs.

If you’re looking for some extra support writing content geared for SEO, get in touch - our team would love to help your brand get things moving in the right direction! 

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As SEO Copywriter, Ella is primarily responsible with planning and writing engaging blog content, as well as implementing on-page SEO strategies to optimise the copy on clients' websites.

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