Get in touch with our team
Feature image for 04.05.2016


6 min read

SEO isn’t all content marketing

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Great, now I’ve got your attention. SEO today isn’t all about content marketing, but it can have a huge impact on your SEO success.

In digital marketing, many buzzwords come and go, but we all need to remember there’s much more to achieving success in the search engines than content alone. As far as these fads go, content marketing is here to stay. Technical SEO does still have a great impact on your site’s ability to rank, and mustn’t be ignored. But first, about “content marketing”.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the strategic practise of using various forms of content to positively influence customers in their purchase in order to positively influence the sale of goods and services.

Content marketing takes a variety of forms, many of which aren’t new at all, such as digital PR, to tell and sell a company’s sales proposition. In fact, at the moment, many organisations are seeing great success through modernising how they are approaching their (digital) PR strategies.

SEO and content marketing

SEO and content marketing naturally go hand-in-hand.

Savvy marketers understand that in order to engage with their target audience, they have to have something of value to say, and they have to be able to say it in a visually appealing, relevant, shareable, searchable way. Simple, right?

It’s actually not as simple as it used to be. Digital marketers of the past could write a few blog posts and achieve SEO success in a matter of weeks. Today, however, web users (and the major search engines) expect much more, and we’re in a golden age of interactive, graphical, image-based, long form guide-driven content marketing.

When done well, it achieves fantastic results. Our History of Interior Design piece was linked to over 100 times and was recognised by a number of industry awards sites too. Not only this, it also increased website traffic and its impact on rankings drove new leads into the business as a result.

Content marketing needn’t rely on graphically designed content, though. The Business Census for Company Check was a survey-led piece of content marketing which, combined with digital PR, led to features in Forbes, International Business Times, Yahoo News and many more, sending highly valuable inbound links to support SEO success.

Laying the foundations for content marketing success

SEO has always been a genuine form of marketing, but one which was unfortunately misunderstood and taken advantage of by the few people who implemented ‘black hat’ techniques and gave the whole industry a bad name. This means so many tactics which ‘used to work’ no longer do, as Google continues in its quest to organise the world’s information and deliver the best search results.

Building brands

Now, we’ve gone full circle. SEO today is all about building brands – and Google loves a good brand! And how do we do “brand building”… Well, like advertising offline, really.

The first step to successful brand building is to raise awareness. You need to let people know your brand is there in order to grow it. Yes, a lot of that comes to PR and that’s why many search agencies, like our own, are growing talented digital PR teams. But not everything’s a story, nor is everything newsworthy. What fills the gaps…?

Social media noise…? Email newsletters? Blogs? Feature content? White papers?

Well, sort of. Content with cut through is the answer. And that’s exactly where the term “content marketing” comes from. It’s no surprise now that content marketing has boomed in popularity over recent years:


What is “cut through content“?

The term ‘cut through content’ is being used more and more in our industry and refers to content which stands out from the crowd. Anything that catches people’s attention can be ‘cut through’ – something which is even more vital in today’s ‘noise filled’ marketing world.

Our audiences are bombarded with so many messages every day, and we need a way to reach them. Especially since Google introduced its Panda update, the focus on content has become so great, you’ll be hard pushed to find a brand that isn’t creating ‘content’ of some sort or another!

That’s where cut through content comes in. We need good content that catches attention and drives results. Long form performs well but so do shorter pieces. In any case, it requires good research and usually great accompanying assets.

If you’re a designer, writer or developer by trade, you might also want to read about ‘10x content‘ — the idea being that larger content investments pay dividends in terms of traffic way into the future.

How content marketing and PR contribute to SEO success

Content marketing and digital PR can be hugely powerful tools for your business. When done well, they drive new traffic and improved brand awareness. They can position your brand as you want it to be positioned and help you to grow as a thought leader in your niche.

Much more than that still, it affects our SEO success by driving relevant, authoritative links to our domain. This provides Google with the proof it needs to say yes, this website is the very best website about [insert niche here] and it should appear in position 1!

Content marketing and PR also help us reach new audiences, particularly those who don’t even know they need our products or services yet. By creating articles and content to feature on websites other than our own, we can tap into the audiences therein in ways no other channel would allow.

It doesn’t matter what industry you work in or what audience you’re trying to reach, good content, done well, can really benefit your brand. Content marketing doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be really, really good. Focus on becoming an authority in your industry and creating content which reflects your expertise.


  1. Most of “modern SEO” for most companies does actually come down to content. Keep your very best content for your own site and post it on your blog, resources section of the place more accessible to the target audience. You can also create content for external sites, which may be in the form of distributing your content as thought leadership and also the creation of assets they can use and share with their audience.
  2. SEO ≠ Content Marketing and SEO ≠ Digital PR, but the emphasis has shifted considerably over the past few years. We feel it’s going in the right direction.
  3. Technical SEO is just as important as it’s ever been. Key elements of technical SEO have remained consistent over time; things like site and page speed. Other elements, like Google’s understanding of the structure of your pages, has declined in importance as their indexing has improved. But in its place is now schema and rich data, powering what we call the knowledge graph. I could say more on rich data, but that’s for another post!

The future for SEO and content marketing

The disciplines are going to mature further. Currently, many websites refuse to link to good content for fear of Google penalty. This will relax in time, but at the same time, marketers are already getting more savvy and are providing assets which require links to view.

In any case, SEO ≠ content marketing, for a very long time.

Are you using content marketing in your business to underpin your SEO strategy? Let us know in the comments, or get in touch if you’d like to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals online.