Experienced Digital Marketers have mostly realized that SEO and Content Marketing are not mutually exclusive when it comes to using Digital channels for promoting a product or service. Yet, the operational practices around how these functions are actually organized in terms of roles and responsibilities, are highly dis-organized and almost always lack any structure or method.
In this article we propose a concrete set of roles and responsibilities for SEO and Content Marketing teams with the overall objective of achieving digital marketing objectives within constraints of time and budget.
SEO and Content Marketing–The overlap
In very straightforward terms, Content Marketing is all about creating valuable content that not only provides high user experience but also helps to directly/indirectly promote specific products or services. SEO on the other hand is all about getting that content found organically through improved search engine rankings. Yet, it is not uncommon for practitioners on both sides to digress into activities not necessarily aligned to their marketing function. Consider some typical examples to highlight this operational overlap
- Finding ideas for creating content is a major activity for Content Marketers. In majority of the cases though, this boils down to doing some basic keyword research and then jumping straight into content writing, based almost entirely on search volumes. The content itself may not provide any valuable takeaways or be aligned to any specific promotional activity but is produced anyway simply because it has the potential to generate traffic.
- More savvy Content Marketers may also do some elementary competitor analysis to identify keywords that their competition ranks high on, in an effort to target traffic from specific prospect segments. Once again, instead of focusing on identifying and executing great content ideas that generate value, Content Marketers indulge in supplementary activities that actually end up diluting the main thrust of their role.
- SEO teams may wish to include certain keywords in their list but it might be practically impossible to create high quality content on those topics at scale. This is very often true in B2B marketing in technology companies where the lack of available talent to create authoritative content comes at a premium price, if at all available. Without inputs from Content teams, SEO teams will likely end up with bloated keyword lists where many of the keywords may never get content to promote, or do so at unviable costs.
These are just some of the examples of how an unplanned and ad-hoc approach to the way that SEO and Content teams work, can actually end up undermining instead of supporting the business objectives of digital marketing function as a whole.
Demarcating SEO and Content Marketing roles and responsibilities
The discussion above begs the obvious question-so how does one structure the mandates of SEO and Content teams in order to produce the optimal output in terms of business value and ROI. While the exact answer to this question would be very specific to a brand’s context, the overarching principle of how SEO differs from Content Marketing should be amply clear.
The primary role of SEO is to generate organic traffic by letting visitors easily find relevant content. Content Marketing’s primary responsibility is to ensure that once found, the content actually provides value and, in the process, drives users to enhanced brand recognition or conversion.
With the above principle in mind, the following high- level configuration of roles and responsibilities can be made to work in most marketing environments.
|Team||Key Result Area||Summary Activities|
|SEO + Content||SEO/Content Marketing Strategy||Define topics of interest based on a holistic evaluation of internal product/service offerings, promotion objectives, competitor analysis, timelines and resource constraints (link to the what, how framework)|
|SEO||• Keyword Research and Planning
• Link Building
• Technical SEO
|• Organize the topics of interest into keyword groups
• Develop a list of keywords to target based on a comprehensive evaluation of search volumes, ease of ranking, competitor research and so on
• Use Analytics to pro-actively maintain the keyword list. Remove keywords that could be too expensive to improve rankings for given the high cost of content production
• Undertake Link Building Campaigns to generate quality links on the back of content already created
• Taken ownership of all Technical SEO aspects around meta-data, internal linking, keyword density and so on.
|Content Marketing||• Content Ideation
• Content Writing
• Content Operations
• Analytics and Optimization
|• Come up with Content Ideas that are aligned to keyword strategy developed in combination with SEO teams
• Decide between seed and re-purposed content
• Undertake detailed research to develop high level content outlines before passing into production
• Use content writing best practices to create high quality content (link to the checklist)
• Ensure that pre-defined content delivery timelines are met for all steps of the workflow
• Create Analytics reports that highlight production bottlenecks, content performance metrics (visits, downloads, engagement, etc.) and operational performance (Cost, ROI against attributed conversions etc.)
• Use Analytics to understand what type of content performs better and why. For example, using analytics, it might be discovered that a certain content theme generates the most engagement for in-market (lower funnel) visitors and this insight could be used to create more of this content type for readers targeted with long-tail keywords
This configuration provides a robust structure for a high-level governance framework that can be used to spin out detailed job descriptions and setup. The activities that we have outlined in Column 3 above are of course, very high-level in nature and can be easily customized based on individual context.
Notice that in the framework above, we recommend that strategy aspects of SEO/Content Marketing be done in close co-ordination between the two teams rather than in silos. The reasoning is simple. Both teams need to be aware of the context behind selecting or prioritizing a certain set of keywords or content themes. This of course has to do with ensuring that all promotional efforts not only provide end user value but also aid the commercial objectives of promoting specific products or services in the shortest time and lowest cost.
SEO and Content Marketing are both complementary pillars of the modern day digital marketing. Creating great content is akin to putting money down the drain if this content cannot be put out in front of the right audience. Similarly, driving users to low value content can actually undermine brand objectives around providing enhanced end user experience and may even generate negative publicity in the world of socially driven purchase considerations. Clearly demarcating the roles and responsibilities of SEO and Content teams will optimize promise against delivery and in doing so, will ultimately help generate trust and authority.