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Content Marketing vs SEO: What Is the Difference?

Content marketing and SEO are two of the most important marketing strategies you have for a business.

But which tactic will lead to more growth: content marketing or SEO?

In this post, we’ll uncover the answer.

As you’ll see below, choosing between content marketing vs SEO is not always an easy answer. And often, you’ll want to use them both for best impact.

So let’s dive into the difference between SEO and content marketing so you can figure out which marketing strategy to focus on right now to grow you business.

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Difference between SEO and content marketing

What Is the Difference Between SEO and Content Marketing?

The difference between SEO and content marketing is that SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages to rank higher in the search engines while content marketing is used to get more exposure for your business with the use of content. SEO is technical and content marketing is more creative.

That’s the basic idea behind content marketing and SEO, but the details and application of each strategy go much further.

Below, we’ll go over the most important information you need to know about SEO and content marketing so you can develop a comprehensive plan to grow your business online.

Content Marketing vs SEO Comparison

SEO helps your web pages rank higher in the search engines so people can find your content while content marketing helps drive traffic to your business from outside sources. A successful content marketing strategy requires SEO and vice versa.

Here is a table showing the complete comparison between SEO and content marketing. After the table, I’ll explain each factor individually.

Content MarketingSEO
Blog PostsTitle Tag
Social Media PostsMeta Description
EmailsHeadings
E-BooksURL
InfographicsPage Content
VideosALT Text
Audio FilesInternal Linking
Case StudiesStructured Data
White PapersPage Speed
Core Web Vitals
Mobile Experience
Backlinks
Brand Mentions
Social Shares
Domain Authority
Page Authority

What Is SEO?

SEO is short for search engine optimization, and this is a marketing strategy that focuses on optimizing your website and web pages to rank higher in the organic search results. Good SEO will increase the visibility of your content and drives more traffic to a website.

As explained in my detailed guide on what is search engine optimization, there are two primary ways to optimize a website for SEO; one deals with on-page factors and the other focuses on off-page elements.

And when used together properly, you can rank the web pages on a website higher in the search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing for specific keywords that relate to your business.

That’s why every business needs SEO regardless of its annual sales or the number of employees.

Types of SEO

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to optimization techniques you can use throughout your website to help it rank higher and earn more traffic from the search engines. On-page SEO focuses on the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized.

As mentioned in my post about on-page SEO vs off-page SEO, these on-site factors include:

  • Title Tag: Also known as the meta title. It refers to the title for a web page that appears in the search engine results page (SERP). Your main keywords should go here.
  • Meta Description: This describes the content on a web page. It is what appears below the title tag on the SERPs.
  • Headings: This refers to the H1 to H6 tags on a web page. Your keywords should be put in these headings.
  • URL: This refers to the location that a web page is hosted on a site. It is what appears in the address bar of your web browser. Putting the main keyword is a good idea here.
  • Page Content: This is the main text that the user reads on a web page. You can include target keywords here to increase the page’s relevance for certain topics.
  • ALT Text: This is an HTML attribute that describes the content within an image on the page. You can put SEO keywords is this location.
  • Internal Linking: This refers to any link on a site that links between two pages on the same site. Adding SEO keywords to the anchor text can increase the relevance for the target page.
  • Structured Data: Also known as Schema Markup, this helps the search engines better understand the content on a web page. It also helps the page get ranked in the rich results sections of the SERPs.
  • Page Speed: This refers to how fast your web pages take to load before a user can interact with them. A faster speed equals better user experience. And better user experience equals higher rankings.
  • Core Web Vitals: This is a new on-page SEO ranking factor by Google. It relates to page speed, user experience, and the layout of the page.
  • Mobile Experience: Search engines now use the mobile version of content as the predominant factor for indexing and ranking a web page. So a good mobile experience is essential for better on-page SEO.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to improve your search results for certain keywords quickly, on-page SEO is an important factor. Plus, anyone can take advantage of these methods to increase their keyword rankings and traffic.


Looking for a Good SEO Tool?

Before we get into the rest of this post, I wanted to let you know about two good SEO tools.

I'm a proud supporter and affiliate for these companies because they have everything you need for SEO success.

Mangools (Try it Free)
Cheapest tool, good for beginners, and includes 5 tools: Keyword Finder, SERP Tracker, SERP Watcher, Link Miner & Site Profiler

SEMRush (Try it Free)
Best tool, good for advanced SEOs, and includes 50+ tools: Keyword Finder, On-Page SEO Auditor, Rank Tracking, Link Building, Competitor Analysis & more


Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to the actions taken outside of your website that impact searching engine rankings. It’s harder to control the off-site elements because it consists of getting other websites to mention your brand and link to individual web pages.

Good off-page SEO is important for online success because it will improve the relevance, trustworthiness, and authority of your website, which will then make it easier to rank your content in the search engines.

Types of off-page SEO include:

  • Backlinks: This refers to other websites linking to your web pages and it’s one of the top secrets to SEO. The more backlinks you acquire, the better. And, the higher the quality of those backlinks, the more strength your pages receive.
  • Brand Mentions: This refers to unlinked mentions of your business on other websites. Having brand mentions is a good way to improve the trust and authority of your website.
  • Social Shares: This refers to content being shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, etc. The more your content gets shared, the more natural backlinks you can acquire for a website.
  • Domain Authority: This refers to a score that’s measured between 1-100 and it calculates how authoritative your website is compared to other sites. Domain Authority primarily consists of the domain age, its history, the number of linking root domains to the domain, and the total number of links.
  • Page Authority: This refers to a metric that’s used to score individual web pages on a domain. The higher the Page Authority value, the more likely the search engine will return a web page in the organic search results.

(See my other guide with off-page SEO examples to learn more about these elements.)

Now, if all of this sounds interesting (or confusing), then you may want to check out my post on how to learn SEO at home here. It offers a list of free resources to get a good education on search engine optimization strategies.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online. Good content marketing does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services so that people want to engage further with a business.

There are several types of content marketing you can use to build brand awareness. And when done properly, content marketing can help increase the authority and trust for your business because you’ll be showcasing your expertise in the industry.

Types of Content Marketing

  • Blog Posts: This refers to content articles you post on your website’s blog.
  • Social Media Posts: This refers to posts that you make on social media to engage users on those channels. The content can consist of links back to your website, images that provoke an emotion, quotes that inspire action, etc.
  • Emails: This refers to content you send to people on your email list. It can be as simple as a list of your latest blog posts or a direct email marketing campaign.
  • E-Books: This refers to downloadable PDF documents that educate your audience on a particular subject. The content usually does not contain any sales language but helps people solve a problem. And when done correctly, those engaged users will contact you to for your more information.
  • Infographics: This refers to is a collection of imagery, charts, and minimal text that gives an easy-to-understand overview of a topic. Infographics a good uses of content marketing because people like to share these items with others online.
  • Videos: This refers to videos that you post on video sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and Dailymotion. Videos are a good content marketing strategy to help educated your audience on a topic and prove your expertise in the subject matter.
  • Audio Files: This refers to podcasts and interviews that you record and share on audio sharing sites like Soundcloud, Stitcher, iTunes, and Spotify. By talking about things that relate to your business, you can boost your authority in the industry.
  • Case Studies: This refers to an in-depth and detailed examination of a particular case or cases that relate to your industry, within a real-world context. By collecting data and sharing it with your audience, you can become the go-to source for high-level information.
  • Whitepapers: This refers to a report or guide that presents a problem and provides a solution. Whitepapers are similar to case studies, but are amore in-depth type of content marketing.

Is SEO Content Marketing?

SEO is not content marketing. SEO refers to the technical process of optimizing a web page to increase traffic to a website. Content marketing is focused on creating valuable and relevant content that is shared outside of a website to drive people back to the site or to contact a business.

Is Content Marketing a Part of SEO?

Content marketing is a part of SEO. Content marketing helps you with search engine optimization by attracting more links to a website. It also makes off-page SEO easier to do because content marketing increases the expertise, authority, and trust for a business; and that helps content rank higher.

Check out my post why content is important for SEO here to find out more about this important relationship in marketing.

Why Content Is King in SEO?

Content is king in SEO because high-quality content is essential for good ranking in search engines like Google. In the past, websites were able to achieve higher rankings just by adding specific keywords to the content. But now, search engines can assess the true quality of content and rank it accordingly.

This is also why good quality content in content marketing is essential as well as why blogs are important for SEO. If the content you’re sharing online is not well-received, then people will want to consume it or share it with others.

Therefore, good content is beneficial for both SEO and content marketing purposes. And you need to put a solid amount of effort into creating the best content you can for your business.

This idea is also part of the answer for why does SEO take so long to work. If you’re not treating your content as “king” or optimizing it in the right way, then it can take longer for your SEO efforts to take full effect.

To get actionable tips on speeding up the results from search engine optimization, take a look at my other blog post that explains how can I improve my SEO fast.

SEO and Content Marketing Statistics

  • 75% of marketers use SEO and 61% repurpose existing content for to use for content marketing purposes. (SEMrush)
  • 70% of the B2B content marketers say their organization’s content marketing efforts have been somewhat or much more successful than last year. (Content Marketing Institute)
  • 93% of the most successful B2B content marketers report their organization is extremely/very committed to content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)
  • Web traffic is among the top two most-common measurements of success for content marketing strategies. (HubSpot)
  • Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less. (Demand Metric)
  • High-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search. (Search Engine Watch)
  • The more backlinks a page has, the more search traffic it gets from Google. (Ahrefs)
  • 70% of marketers see SEO as more effective than PPC. (Databox)
  • 49% of marketers report that organic search has the best ROI of any marketing channel. (Search Engine Journal)

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Summary for Content Marketing vs SEO

I hope you enjoyed this post about content marketing vs SEO.

As you learned, the biggest difference between SEO and content marketing is that search engine optimization techniques help your web pages rank higher in the search results pages while content marketing dries more awareness for your brand.

However, you shouldn’t decide on content marketing or SEO for long-term growth. A good marketing strategy will contain both technical SEO implementation and content marketing efforts to increase exposure for your business online.

Content Marketing vs SEO