Content optimization vs. SEO — What’s the difference?

Content marketing is a popular and effective online marketing strategy, but even if you have the absolute best and most informative content out there, it will do you no good if people can’t find it. That’s where content optimization and Search Engine Optimization come in to make the difference. You might have heard the terms Search Engine Optimization and content optimization, but do you know the two are very different concepts despite the fact that both items help with your website’s search results rank? We're here to tell you the differences and similarities between the two. After all, knowledge is power. You might have read that content enforces SEO and vice versa. They’re both a couple you can’t live without in today’s fast-paced world. However, what does it mean to someone who’s just stepping into the world of SEO and content optimization? First, let’s define the two terms. Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing your online visibility by employing organic methods to rank in the search engines. Keyword usage is what defines SEO. Whereas content optimization is the practice of optimizing content to inform the user about you and your brand. With written material posted on the website, the search engine crawls and indexes it. However, content isn’t restricted to just only articles; these can also be in the form of images, infographics, videos, and podcasts. Moreover, Google looks at the site’s meta titles, descriptions, and even alt texts, too. To summarize, SEO is all about keywords that assist in ranking your website naturally. Content optimization uses those keywords in a sentence to help get your website ranked and recognized.

Keyword optimization is a framework for SEO. Similarly, you could say that topic modelling (how words and phrases are interrelated) is a framework for content optimization. With the rise of semantic search, you need to focus on specific topics and cover them in depth. Content optimization focuses on providing the best answers to any given query with elaborate content. That includes which subtopics you need to cover to build authority in that niche. With content optimization, you still start off with a keyword. But you need to cover the entire topic encompassing that keyword very well. In short, you need to show you’re an expert.

Now, you may still be scratching your head and trying to figure out the difference between the two, so let us hit you with an analogy.

Imagine this: your SEO keyword is a seed, a seed that can’t grow on its own. Content optimization is fertilizer and water. Consider this: you want your seed to grow, but first, you need to pick the right compost for it. That will be your content. You can’t just write whatever you want and add keywords to it, that’s not how it works. Similar to compost, you have to find the correct content to support your chosen keywords. Of course, you need to put in your heart and soul if you want it to bloom. The main point is, the more you nurture it, the better shot at success you have.

Now that we’ve learned about the two and the difference, let’s discuss how you can optimise your content for SEO and make them work together.

SEO your content strategy

Too many marketers are still waiting until the end of content creation to bring in SEO as a promotional tool. They try to figure out what they’ve just created, so they can plug in a few keywords and links. But an effective content marketing strategy should start with keyword and user intent research. Once you know what queries your audience is using, and what kind of content they are looking for, you can design a content strategy that answers their specific questions and helps move them through the funnel.

Design good content

A good user experience is good SEO. When users are engaged, they consume more content, interact with it and share it. From the overarching structure to the details of the layout, make sure you are designing good content. There are plenty of philosophies about which characteristics make content “good” — or “sticky” or “thought leadership.” They are all worthy considerations, and every piece of content should cover at least a few.

Create correct content

Is there anything as unsettling as a typo in an otherwise great piece of content? No. There isn’t. While there is no evidence, at this time, that grammar is a ranking signal, it’s a user experience/credibility concern. Additionally, citing sources and linking to other authorities is good technique, but it’s also good SEO — those outbound links demonstrate to search engines that you know your stuff, and that you’re associating with the right crowd.

Check your keyword usage

You started with keywords and user intent research, of course, so this is not about figuring out which keywords apply to the piece of content in question. This is about examining how that keyword is being used in said content. It’s true that keyword stuffing is very, very out. It was never cool in the first place, but now — thanks to Google — it’s also ineffective (if not dangerous). It’s also true that Google is very savvy about keywords. None of that, however, means that keywords are “dead.” It just means SEO needs to use them better.

Go forth and create ‘high-quality content’

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but they have never tried to rank content in organic search. The truth is, for our purposes, beauty is in the eye of the target audience — as interpreted by a machine learning program at Google. Start your SEO content journey by bringing search engine optimization and content optimization together from the beginning. If you are working with a content marketing strategy that did not start with SEO research, start again. It may sound like a tedious thing to do, but you will not realize how beneficial it is until you try it. When the wheels and the engine start together, you set out on a much smoother ride.

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