SEO and Content Marketing: Complete Guide
Combine content marketing and SEO

This guide will show you how to combine content marketing and SEO to get LOTS of traffic.

We used these strategies at Backlinko

We used these strategies here at Backlinko to grow our site’s traffic to 288,452 monthly visitors.

Here’s how to combine SEO and content marketing for more traffic.

Create Content Specifically For Backlinks

Are backlinks still important for SEO?


An industry study that we did revealed the fact that backlinks remain a key Google ranking factor.

Backlinks remain a key Google ranking factor

Question is:

How do you get other sites to link to you?

A lot of so-called “SEO experts” will tell you that all you need to do is publish high-quality content.

And while high-quality content is a start, it’s not enough.


2.3 million new blog posts get published every day

2.3 million!

Which means that “high-quality content” isn’t enough to stand out, get noticed (and most important of all) get linked to.

Instead, you need to create content specifically engineered to get links.

In fact, I recently teamed up with BuzzSumo to analyze 900M articles.

BuzzSumo study post

And we found that certain TYPES of content tends to get linked to more often than others.

Certain types of content gets linked to more

We also found that, in general, longer content tends to get significantly more backlinks than short posts.

Longer content gets more backlinks

The takeaway here is that, if you’re serious about getting backlinks, then you need to publish super high-quality, long-form content. Ideally, content that’s in the form of an infographic, a what post, or a why post.

As it turns out, there’s another category of content that’s PERFECT for getting links: industry studies and surveys.

Studies are great because you give bloggers and journalists what they crave: data that they can cite in their articles.

For example, check out this voice search study we did about a year ago.

Voice Search SEO Study

Compared to a list post, this post was A LOT of work to put together. But considering that this post has picked up 1,500 backlinks so far, I’d say it was well worth it:

Voice Search SEO Study backlinks

Optimize Around New Keywords

If you’ve been in the SEO game for a while, you’ve probably noticed the same thing I have:

Google’s first page is more competitive than ever before.

For example, take a keyword like “SEO tips”. According to Ahrefs, that keyword gets 3.5k searches per month. With a CPC of $7.

“SEO tips” Ahrefs info

Not a bad keyword. But not amazing either.

Well, here’s the kicker:

That keyword has a Keyword Difficulty score of 60!

“SEO tips” – Keyword Difficulty

I’m seeing this kind of thing more and more.

Every company on the planet is starting to invest in SEO and content marketing. Which means that every single keyword now has some level of competition (even long-tail keywords).

What’s the solution? Focus on new, trending keywords.

The best tool for finding new keywords is Google Trends.

Google Trends

This tool will show you whether or not search demand for that keyword is growing.

Google Trends – “vegan keto”

If you see a keyword on the rise, it’s probably worth creating a piece of content around that keyword. Even if the search volume isn’t great today, it’s only going to go up over time.

Strategically Promote Your Content

Here’s the truth:

If you want your content to rank, you need to promote it.

And yes, “promote it” does include sharing your content on social media.

But for your content to get maximum reach, you also want to promote your content using email outreach.

According to a recent industry study, these types of outreach emails tend to have the highest rates of success:

Use personalized subject lines

Personalize the body of their message

Use an email signature that links to social media profiles

Are part of a follow-up sequence

Optimize Content For Search Intent

Creating high-quality content is important.

But for your content to rank for specific keywords, your content also needs to be a 1:1 match for that keyword’s Search Intent.

I’ll explain what I mean with an example.

When I first started Backlinko I published an article optimized around the term: “backlinks”

17 Untapped Backlink Sources

And while it snuck onto the first page for a while, the rankings never stuck.

On the surface, this didn’t make any sense. The content was optimized for that exact keyword. And my page had quite a few really good backlinks too.

But it wouldn’t rank.

Well, as it turns out, that page wouldn’t rank because it didn’t meet Search Intent.

People searching for a broad keyword like “backlinks” aren’t looking for 17 strategies.

Instead, the Search Intent for that keyword is: “I just learned about backlinks and I want to figure out what they are and how they work”.

So I decided to rewrite that post to better match Search Intent.

Backlinks Guide post

Today, thanks to my content being a good fit for Search Intent, it now ranks in the top 5 for my target keyword.

“backlinks” SERPs

Update and Re-Optimize Old Blog Posts

Updating old content is great for users AND search engines.

It’s great for users because 100% of the content on your site is relevant.

(Even posts that you published years ago).

It’s great for search engines because they see that you’re consistently updating and upgrading the content on your site.

For example, every year my team and I update every single post on the site.

Backlinko post updates document

It’s a ton of work. But in the end, updating those older posts wind up generating more organic traffic than publishing lots of new stuff.

Yellow square

SEO and Content Marketing Blog Posts

Green triangle

Free SEO and Content Marketing Resources

Common Questions

Is SEO still relevant?

In a word: YES.

The team at SparkToro recently analyzed the web’s top traffic sources for websites.

And they found that Google generated 57.8% of all website traffic (compared to 5.2% for Facebook and 3.4% for Reddit).

So if you’re serious about getting traffic to your website, SEO is key.

How do you write SEO content?

To write SEO content today:

  • Each page should be optimized around a single keyword.
  • Your content should contain your keyword in your title, description and on your page.
  • Your content should be aligned with User Intent.
  • Format your content for readability and UX.
  • Publish content that provides something different or better than what’s out there.
  • Your page should load quickly.
  • Mobile users should be able to easily access and read your content.

What are the best SEO strategies?

Here are the best SEO strategies for higher Google rankings:

  • 01.

    Find high-volume, low-competition keywords

  • 02.

    Implement on-page SEO best practices.

  • 03.

    Publish content that meets Search Intent.

  • 04.

    Build high-quality backlinks to your website.

  • 05.

    Improve your page speed.

  • 06.

    Make sure that your site is optimized for mobile SEO.

  • 07.

    Optimize your title tag and meta description for CTR.

  • 08.

    Use Google Analytics to monitor your results.

How can I improve my SEO?

Here are 10 ways to improve your SEO rankings:

  • 01.

    Make sure that your technical SEO is set up correctly.

  • 02.

    Find and delete duplicate content from your website.

  • 03.

    Publish long-form content using The Skyscraper Technique model.

  • 04.

    Use email outreach to build white hat backlinks.

  • 05.

    Structure your content to rank in Featured Snippets.

  • 06.

    Use a sitemap to help search engines index the pages on your site.

  • 07.

    Set up the Google Search Console to monitor indexing and rankings.

  • 08.

    Use internal links to send authority to key pages.

  • 09.

    Optimize image filenames and alt text.

  • 10.

    Implement Schema markup to get Rich Snippets.


  1. Hey Brian,

    It’s a pretty nice type of content. Something fresh and new.

    Two questions:

    1. Content length of this type of article is much less than what you usually create. Don’t you think it will heart rankings?

    2. Or this is the kind of test, where you absolutely satisfy user intent but with less content and answer his question much faster? If yes, it’s going to be interesting.

    And thanks for such tests, as always you bring something new. Seriously.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Vlad. Exactly: this is more of a test to learn from. We’ll see how it goes.

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