People often confuse content marketing and SEO in the digital marketing sphere. It seems like these two terms are used interchangeably…but are they actually the same thing? In this article I am going to break down the difference in simple terms.
According to Google, the definition for content marketing is this:
“A type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.”
Now that’s a pretty long description, so let’s simplify that.
Basically, at its core content marketing involves using…well, content to grow a brand. This could be through blog posts (text based content), or through videos on a website like YouTube. Even eBooks, pictures, and audiobooks are technically forms of content.
But content marketing isn’t just public content on the internet. This marketing method also encompasses things like email marketing, and funnels behind the scenes in your business. Written emails are even a form of content.
Search Engine Optimization
Let’s examine the definition of SEO. According to dictionary.com, it’s:
“The methods used to boost the ranking or frequency of a website in results returned by a search engine, in an effort to maximize user traffic to the site: The first step in SEO is to generate keywords that are relevant to your site’s content.”
To sum up this definition, SEO is the process of boosting your website’s visibility in search engine websites like Google.
Search engine optimization involves tweaking lots of elements of your website, publishing content on your website (and others), filling out business listings, and working with media.
Interestingly enough, the definition of SEO also has the word “content” in it. Well, that’s confusing. There’s a LOT of similarities between content marketing and SEO. In fact, it’s to the point where some people confuse the two terms.
If you want to be good at SEO, you should also be fluent in content marketing. A large chunk of the SEO process involves writing blog posts around search phrases that bring traffic into you or your client’s website. This is also done in content marketing.
Additionally, a content marketer may optimize their blog posts to rank in Google.
But what’s the difference…?
As an SEO, you’re going to be doing some things that fall under the “content marketing” umbrella. However, most likely you are not working with content formats other than text. And when you are, this is almost always in the form of blog posts.
This is the biggest difference between the two.
Content marketers explore way more media formats and outlets for publishing their stuff. Podcasts, YouTube videos, emails…these are channels you may not dip your foot into as an SEO. For a content marketer, getting on camera is just another day for them.
They don’t work in “behind the scenes systems” as much as SEOs. Website optimization isn’t a big focus for content marketers outside of optimizing the pieces of content they are creating.
I also want to mention the difference of skill set here, too. Some parts of SEO are far more technical compared to content marketing. If you’re a writer, but not as tech savvy, content marketing may be more of a good fit for you. Likewise, if you’re more of a technical person, SEO may be what you prefer to do.
Of course, this comes down to preference. There is still overlap with both skills, and you will need to occasionally write regardless of what path you choose.
You Should Master Both
Here’s my opinion as someone who used to be in the internet marketing niche. You 100% should master both SEO and content marketing. There’s a lot of overlap, so one is super easy to get the hang of if you’re already doing the other one.
Having the skillset to work with all sorts of types of media is incredibly valuable, and gives you a HUGE advantage. If you do local SEO for your clients, you can effortlessly generate 10X the traffic their competition gets for them simply by branching out into video or exploring other channels.
On top of that, I’ve found that small businesses generally only have enough to hire one marketing person. If the primary type of client you work with isn’t large businesses or corporations, you’ll want to develop skills outside of SEO. I often found myself wearing different hats when I was working with clients.
While it can feel overwhelming in the beginning, it is invaluable to be fluent in different marketing channels. What you find is that content is ultimately the same, regardless of the format. In fact, you can use the blog posts you have already written as scripts for video, or audiobook chapters. It’s all about being creative and working smart, not hard.
Content marketing and SEO are almost the same thing, but aren’t. Both involve working with content and writing blog posts. Content marketers venture into working with video, audio, and other formats that traditional SEOs don’t do.
Both skills are very valuable and I recommend mastering both to be the best marketer you possibly can be. If you’re already fluent in one, learning the other one is extremely easy. Having the ability to dip your toe into other media types make you a versatile marketer that is able to generate 10X the traffic than the competition.
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