A Unified Theory of SEO and Content Marketing


[stag_intro]In the world of physics there is a concept called the Theory of Everything which refers to the hypothetical presence of a single, all encompassing theoretical framework of physics that fully explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe.[/stag_intro]

The Theory of Everything remains unsolved however, and the two existing theoretical frameworks, upon which all modern physics is based, being General Relatively (GR) and Quantum Mechanics (QM) are mutually incompatible. That is, they can’t both be right.

In recent decades a new contender to the crown has emerged. String Theory, which may ultimately bring everyone to the party and explain the theory of everything.

Life, the Universe and Everything.



Ok So How Does all this Physics  relate to SEO & Content Marketing?

Image care of @ireckon

In the same way that General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are incompatible, many businesses, which are used to allocating budget to specific initiatives, are finding themselves challenged to allocate marketing budgets between SEO and Content Marketing.

Do I spend my money on SEO or Content Marketing?

They are assuming that both of these marketing activities are mutually exclusive when in fact they are not.

Should I Invest in SEO or Content Marketing

If you are asking this question, you’re asking the wrong question.

You need to take a step back and ask the #1  question, which is, “What is my desired business outcome?”

Once you know that, then all you want to know is:

“What activities do I need to invest in that will help me achieve and maximise my desired business outcome?”

This idea that SEO and content marketing are two mutually exclusive activities comes from those days before Google Panda and Penguin dropped the axe on manipulative link building.

In those days when you invested in SEO, you got a mix of both onsite activities (onsite optimisation) and offsite activities (link building) which brought high rankings, traffic and hopefully sales.

With Google’s tough crackdown on spammy or manufactured links, Content Marketing came to be seen as the safe link attraction strategy.

So now the link building piece, which used to be a key part of the activity of SEO is now called Content Marketing. Swap Content Marketing for Link Building and it’s 2011 all over again.

As a result of this, opportunistic SEO’s everywhere quickly  called themselves Content Marketers and have been able to double dip by selling SEO and Content Marketing separately.

Is there  a Unified Approach?

Most Businesses are after increased sales, from increased traffic as a result of increased visibility of their website in the search results.

Does it matter how they got there?

If you think about why we are even making this distinction it’s primarily to help explain the different activities to those marketing managers charged with allocating budgets so they can justify their investment in safe activities for the benefit of the business.

It may help to make a distinction that the SEO component of the service covers traditional technical, research and optimisation activities whilst the Content Marketing component covers the research, creation, publication and promotion of content with the goal of attracting links.

As far back as 2011  Rand Fishkin, a leading seo was talking about how the role of an SEO has broadened considerably since the early days of online marketing and it’s now simply a game of semantics calling it seo or content marketing, or online marketing.

SEO responsibilities
SEO responsibilities

The reason seo’s are even having this discussion about what to call what they do is so they can optimise for it, rank for it and sell more of it.

So What Should I Expect from My SEO/Digital Agency?

Ok so to save you time I’ll outline the key things you want your digital partner to deliver to you if your goal is simply improved visibility in the search results.

  1. Technical SEO Advice: Help ensuring the technical foundations of your website are solid. That Google can properly crawl your pages and know what your site is about to properly rank it for the appropriate searches.
  2. Customer Insight: Help to understand who your customers are and how they search for you online. Typically this will manifest itself as keyword research to help optimise pages and drive content strategies.
  3. Onsite Optimisation: What you want is an ongoing process of onsite optimisation; improving keyword targeting, improving content, improving site structure, information architecture, implementing rich schema and google authorship with the goal of making the way the sites content gets found, and gets presented in the search results, the best that it can be.
  4. Content Development for Links: I have a content marketing model that shoulders content marketing with several responsibilities. However for traditional organic visibility goals, your agency should be helping you create and promote content that gets links. And it needs to be more than just blogging for bloggings sake. Content marketing for links is a very tactical activity which not all agencies have the capacity or capability to do.

This discussion about what to call things will no doubt continue to rage.

At the end of the day, businesses who wan’t to do well online need to ask a better question of their agencies which is,  “Here is what our business goal is. How can you help me achieve it?”

The answer should then be “Whatever we can”; which might mean a little of traditional seo and a little of content marketing.

Are you interested in helping improve your visibility in the organic search results?

Why not Contact Me for a quick chat and we can see what opportunities there are for your business.