The Role of Content in SEO

content concept handwritten on blackboard

In the early days of the internet, search engine optimization, or SEO, was a relatively simple affair. Search engines did not use the sophisticated algorithms they use today. All webmasters needed to do to rank for their chosen keywords was to stuff their site with words. The traffic flowed in as a result.

That has all changed in recent years. Keywords stuffing is significantly less helpful than it used to be. Keywords still matter when it comes to SEO, but there are other issues that are far more important.

Bill Gates once declared that “Content is king.” He said those words long before they were true – but it was a remarkably prescient statement. The truth is that SEO and content are inseparable partners. You cannot expect your website to appear high on Googles list of sites for your chosen keywords if your content doesn’t deliver.

What is Online Content?

You may have heard the term “content marketing” and wondered what it has to do with SEO.

Simply put, online content is anything that you create and release for the purpose of marketing your company. Online content may be:

  • Written, such as blog entries, articles, and even social media posts
  • Graphic, such as photographs, illustrations, and infographics
  • Video content, including live content, animation, and white board videos
  • Audio content, such as podcasts

Each one of these types may be used to give your SEO a boost and attract more traffic to your website.

How SEO and Content Marketing Complement One Another

Now let’s talk about how SEO and content marketing work together. In many ways, they’re like the lyric of the old song about Love and Marriage: you can’t have one without the other.

SEO doesn’t work without content.

The first thing you need to know is that SEO is nothing without content. Sure, there are elements of SEO that aren’t technically content – things like alt image tags and meta descriptions – but the majority of the SEO punch on your website comes from the content you post. Every blog post, product description, press release, and FAQ is a piece of content that contributes to your SEO.

SEO is what you need, content is what your customers need.

The next thing to consider is what the purpose of SEO is compared to what the purpose of content is. Unless your company sells optimization services, we can practically guarantee that your customers aren’t concerned with your SEO.

No, what they want is answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Get it?

Your SEO strategy is to attract new customers to your site. The goal of your content is to give your customers a reason to come to your site in the first place.

Your content is something you deploy in service of your SEO strategy. It will be successful only if the content represents what your clients want to read, hear, and see.

Content is a tool that helps with SEO

When Google sends out its search bots to crawl your website, they’re not looking for SEO per se. Will they read your tags and site map and make note of keywords? Of course they will. But that’s not all they’re looking for.

Google’s algorithms get increasingly sophisticated with each new iteration. Google’s goal, always, is to deliver relevant search results to its users. When a user types in a keyword, Google will give priority to content that is:

  • Fresh
  • Relevant
  • Useful
  • Keyword-rich

It’s not that keywords and tags don’t matter. However, if the content on your site doesn’t give customers what they need, Google is not going to put your site at the top of their list no matter how many times you use a keyword.

SEO requires links to authority sites, content provides a reason to link

After keywords, the second most important element of SEO is linking your site to quality sites around the internet. When you link to an authority site – a site with a great deal of traffic and reliable information – you give Google a signal that your site can be trusted.

That said, you can’t just toss a bunch of links on a page and expect to win at SEO. The links must use quality anchor text and be directly relevant to what’s listed in your content.

In other words, linking to a page that backs up a factual assertion you make in a blog post is great for your SEO. Simply listing that site in your blogroll isn’t as effective for your SEO or for your readers’ experience.


The bottom line is that SEO and content need one another. They go together like… well, like the proverbial horse and carriage. If you use them properly, the content you create will ensure that your SEO has the desired effect.

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