SEO is typically categorized as the strategies and techniques used to increase rankings in search engine results. The purpose, of course, is to ultimately reach your target audience and boost conversions.
The tactics chosen in any given SEO strategy comes down to what marketers and website owners decide holds more importance: Technical SEO or Content.
So, which is the right choice? Where should you focus your efforts to boost your rankings?
Technical SEO – What is it?
Technical SEO is used to help search engines interpret your page content. It is also a way to enhance user experience. It includes:
- Robots.txt – Text files that live in your site’s root directory. It’s a set of instructions for crawlers, giving you control of what pages can and cannot be crawled. You can disallow low-value pages or duplicate content you don’t want indexed.
- XML Sitemap: A Sitemap lists (and describes) every page on your site. Search engines use sitemaps to find pages and determine how often they should crawl your site. Any page you wish to see on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) should be included in your sitemap.
- Meta robots tag: This is similar to robots.txt, but the meta robots tag uses content=“” attribute to alert crawlers not to index a page (NoIndex) or whether to follow the page’s links (NoFollow). The NoFollow command applies to the whole page; add the rel=“NoFollow” to an anchor tag in order to nofollow individual links.
- Structured Data – RDF, microdata, or JSON-LD help computers understand the context of the words you use. This is how you can strategically use the semantic web to your advantage. Google uses this structured data in order to create the rich search results; the easier it is for Google to understand what is on a page, the more likely it is that the page will show up in relevant queries.
- Page Speed – Along with Load Time, page speed is incredibly important for both SEO and user experience. You can improve your page speed by optimizing your images, redirects and caching. G-Zip compression is essential to improving load time.
- Responsive Design – You want search engines to view your site as “mobile-friendly” – and you can achieve this with responsive design. Responsive design scales a website to render according to the user’s screen, thus enhancing user experience for mobile. Responsive design will save you (and your development team) the hassle of creating multiple versions of the same page.
The Great Significance of Technical SEO
Other than site speed, most of the technical SEO requirements we just outlined will not individually help your site rank. For instance, a site with an XML Sitemap will not necessarily outrank a site without one.
So, what’s the point spending all of that time and energy optimizing your site if it won’t even boost your rankings?
Answer: Technical SEO has a significant indirect impact on your rankings and your site’s capacity to get indexed.
Let’s break this down. Without structured data, your knowledge panel will look inadequate. Without using canonical URLs, those who link to an alternate version of a page will dilute your link juice. And without giving access to a sitemap or a robots.txt file, you are forcing Googlebots to waste all of its crawl budget trying to see a folder full or images or videos.
Without technical SEO, your website will be dead in the water.
Content Marketing – What is it?
According to Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Content is the driving force behind why visitors land on your website from SERPs. They are there to experience, read, watch, or listen to whatever it is brought them to your landing page. Inbound marketing like SEO depends on quality content that can ultimately attract potential customers and drive conversions.
The Benefits of Content Marketing
The value of content marketing is inherent in both SEO and conversion rate optimization.
In terms of SEO, here is what content does:
- On-page – Great content means great on-page SEO. In-depth articles give you the opportunity to utilize your keywords consistently and intelligently in every level of body content: HTML headers, URLs and image alt text.
- Linkbait – Done correctly, content can be natural linkbait. People are drawn to high-quality content and are more likely to share it. This sort of high-quality content will also help you build the right kind of backlinks naturally.
- Evergreen Content – Exceptional evergreen articles will continue to attract links and stay on top of SERPs for an extended period of time. Taking the combined link and on-page benefits, evergreen content can last in both top results and rich snippets. Take this SEO Guide on Link Juice, for example:
The guide was published some time ago, but the relevant and engaging content keeps this result at the top of SERPs.
Content marketing can also boost your website’s conversion rate. Content (articles, infographics, video, etc.) can help cultivate an emotional tie with your audience. This can be done by eliciting an emotional response or by highlighting the benefits of using your services.
Good content also allows you to build trust with your audience. Testimonials and reviews add credibility to your product and your brand. The more you help your potential customers with their purchasing decision, the more they will trust you. Content helps establish that trust through best-of lists, product comparisons and purchasing guides.
So, Which is Most Important: Technical SEO or Content Marketing?
BOTH! There is just no point of doing one without the other. Having an incredibly fast site that is easily understandable and accessible to bots would be insane without any quality content for them to read. Alternatively, what’s the point of creating great content if your page takes forever to load?
You can marry these two strategies with these steps:
- First, master your technical SEO. This is the crucial foundation of your pages. Having this set up properly from the beginning will save you lots of time and effort in the long run.
- Publish your quality content once you’ve mastered the technical SEO of your site. But, don’t be lazy about content creation. The whole point of content marketing is that it is continuous. You must be publishing and promoting quality content on a regular basis.
So for those of you who skipped to this part of the article, we’re sorry that there is no easy answer: neither strategy is more important than the other. Content marketing is where you will spend the majority of your time, though, since you will (hopefully) be creating new elements regularly.