Digital marketers and website owners have struggled to agree on a single technique or strategy that increases reach and conversions. After all, the whole concept of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is defined as the strategies, tactics and techniques used to rank in search engine results for your target audience.
For smaller marketing teams, it’s impossible to decide which strategy to put all of your effort behind. More often than not, it all comes down to deciding between technical SEO and content marketing.
But, which one is more important? Which one will bring you more traffic and conversions? In this article, we will discuss each strategy and where you should focus your time and energy.
Technical SEO is the way your website is set up to help search engines read and understand your content. It also helps your human visitors with great user experience (UX).
Some important elements of technical SEO include:
- XML Sitemap
- Sitemaps are a list of every page on your website along with some details about the pages. Search engines use these to find pages and figure out how often they should crawl your site. Any page you want found on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) should be included in your sitemap.
- These are text files that live in your website’s root directory. Basically, it is a set of instructions that tell crawlers what they can and can’t crawl. You can disallow pages you don’t want indexed here (low-value pages, duplicate content, etc.)
- Structured Data
- Meta Robots Tag
- Like robots.txt, the meta robots tag uses the content=”” attribute to tell crawlers now to index a page (NoIndex), or to follow any on the page’s links (NoFollow). The NoFollow command applies to the entire page.
- Page Speed
- This is really important for your users, so it’s really important for your SEO. You can speed along your load time by optimizing your images, caching and redirects. G-Zip compression will also improve your load time.
- Responsive Design
- It’s crucial that search engines see your site as “mobile-friendly”. Websites can achieve this by using responsive design via mobile viewport. Responsive design scales a site to render according to the user’s device screen, thereby improving the mobile experience. By using responsive design, you don’t need to create alternate versions of your website.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
Aside from site speed, most other individual technical SEO elements aren’t ranking factors. If everything else is equal, a site with an XML sitemap isn’t going to outrank a site without one.
So, why invest all of that time and energy into optimizing something that won’t give you an immediate boost in SERPs?
Because technical SEO can have a giant indirect impact on your rankings and your ability to get indexed, that’s why.
Without an XML sitemap or a robots.txt file, Google’s bots could waste it’s entire crawl budget trying to access a folder full of images. Without structured data, your Knowledge Panel will look pretty weak.
Technical SEO will give you an advantage with Google you wouldn’t otherwise have.
The Content Marketing Institute offers this definition:
Content marketing is the practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.
Ultimately, successful content marketing will drive profitable customer action. After all, the phrase “content is king” has been the war cry of digital marketers since Bill Gates coined the term in 1996.
The whole reason people visit your site from search results is your content. They aim to read, watch or listen to whatever was promised to them when they stumbled across your site on Google. Inbound marketing really relies on that content being high-quality to attract visitors and (hopefully) drive conversions.
The Importance of Content Marketing
Content marketing is important for both SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). In terms of SEO, there are multiple benefits:
- Linkbait: Quality content can work as natural linkbait for you. People want to share valuable, authoritative content. Good content will help you build the kind of links Google rewards websites for: natural, and high-quality.
- On-page: Quality content can also be useful for your on-page SEO. In-depth articles give you a chance to use your keywords consistently in the most high-yield places (like the HTML headers, URLs, image alt text) and also at every level of your body content.
- Evergreen content: Evergreen content has the double-benefit of link juice and on-page benefits. If you are able to publish really great evergreen articles, you’ll be able to attract links and stay on top of SERPs for a long time.
Good content marketing can drive your website’s conversion rate. Content helps you form an emotional tie with your audience, like those Coca-Cola Christmas ad campaigns. It can also allow you to subtly highlight the benefits of using your product will make the customer happy or improve his or her life.
It’s important to build trust with your audience; the obvious way to do this is with product reviews and testimonials that reinforce your claims.
The better, more valuable way to build this trust is with your content. Product comparisons, purchasing guides and Top-10 lists can help guide people through the purchasing process. They will trust you going forward if you take an honest approach in helping them make a decision.
Moment of Truth: What’s More Important?
Now that we’ve covered the essentials of both strategy, what is more important?
The truth is, implementing one without the other is pointless. What’s the point of having a really fast, well-optimized site if there’s no content for humans or bots to access?
Alternately, what good is having exceptional content if no one can find them in the SERPs? Or, if your page takes so long to load your visitors leave the page before they even see your content?
However, there is a way you can combine them to get the maximum benefit from both strategies.
- Technical SEO is the first step, as it is the foundation of all your pages. If you set everything up properly in the beginning, you will save yourself so much time in the future. Spend most of your time with technical SEO at the start (or during the redesign or migration of your site).
- Next, focus on your content. It’s important to note that content marketing is a continuous process. You should strive to constantly push out quality content on your website and promoting it on all your platforms (social media, link building, email, etc.).
When weighing importance, content and SEO are equals. Content marketing is where you will spend the majority of your time, though, because you will ideally be creating new content on a weekly basis.