Inc. magazine and The Guardian each ran articles this summer with bold headlines reading, "SEO is dead..." Don't you believe it. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "the reports of SEO's death have been greatly exaggerated."

Search engine optimization is still important. It's just the tactics have changed. No longer can SEO experts rely on link-building as the cornerstone of their ranking strategy. SEO works best today when it's paired with content marketing. In fact, the two were made for each other.

Content marketing is an inbound marketing strategy that focuses on creating and distributing high-quality content that appeals to a company's prospects and customers. Content marketing can be an effective way to enhance brand recognition and generate sales. It is also useful in driving website traffic, and that's where SEO comes into play.

A content marketing strategy typically focuses on blog article writing. But in order for a blog to help your search ranking, it needs articles that share the following attributes:

  • Substantial length, between 500-1,000 words
  • Authoritative, with unique information and/or point of view
  • Published regularly
  • Engaging content, with features that attract attention such as images or video

Since Google has made it clear with its Panda and Penguin updates that it values high-quality content as a significant ranking factor, your company's website ranking should get a boost from your blog. You can take the optimization a step further by focusing on a specific keyword phrase in each article. The keyword that you're targeting should be included in these areas:

  • Blog article title
  • Blog article URL
  • Blog article content
  • Blog article meta description tag

Don't go overboard with keywords in the body of the article itself. The article must be written with the reader in mind, not the search engines.

Social Media And SEO

One reason The Guardian article claimed "SEO is dead," is because of the impact social media is having on search. There's no denying that Google and Bing are serving up results based on social shares and connections. But this is where you can use SEO and content marketing to your advantage.

The object is to share your high-quality, original content with the social platforms your prospects and customers use. Every time someone interacts with your content by liking, sharing or commenting on it, they send "social signals" to the search engines that you are a credible authority in your niche.

Content marketing is most effective when your content reaches your audience at a time when they are most likely to read it. Tools like Facebook Insights and Tweriod can help you monitor when your followers are most active. Google Analytics can tell you which articles on your site are most commonly shared, and which social buttons are being clicked to share them. You can also keep track of how visitors engage with your content on other websites.

Here Are A Few Action Steps For Your Company To Implement:

  1. Create high quality, original content for your website or blog
  2. Add keywords to the article title, URL and article content
  3. Share your articles across the social networking platforms your prospects & customers use
  4. Deliver the content at a time when most of your prospects will see it
  5. Provide social share buttons on your blog so your readers can show their appreciation for your content
  6. Focus on becoming the authority in your niche. Create excellent content that will encourage prospects to visit your website and buy your products/services.

When you follow these steps, you'll find that SEO and content marketing truly do go hand-in-hand. It's a win-win scenario that enables you to deliver quality content to your prospects, drive traffic to your website, and generate leads/sales for your business.