As digital marketers and bloggers , we can all agree the main goal of digital marketing is to pull potential customers to our websites so we can generate leads and ultimately sell products and services.

Of all the marketing initiatives designed to help reach that goal, two rank high on the list: content marketing and SEO. They are continually evolving tools geared toward helping us attract attention to our little lifeboats on a massive ocean that grows larger all the time.

Even worse, more and more lifeboats seem to pop up around us every time we blink. And we’re fighting them for attention 24 hours a day.

But a battle has been raging for years over which is the more effective between content marketing and SEO, and if we actually need both.

Well, one is better, and I’ll reveal the answer in a moment.

First, let’s break down the contestants. What are they? Why are they?

Attracting People in Different Ways

In one corner of the ring, there’s content marketing. Simply put, it’s the art (and yes, it is an art form) of creating and sharing valuable and informative content people look for. Whether it’s articles, white papers, videos, infographics, blogs, or even podcasts, it’s all packed with (or should be) useful information that solves a problem, makes our potential customers’ jobs and lives easier, and boosts our companies’ reputations, which in turn helps our brands.

In the other corner is the always popular Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of using specific keywords on our web pages, along with other tactics (and there… are… a… LOT of them), to increase our site’s search engine (hence, the name) rankings. It introduces our companies to an unsuspecting audience seeking products on that massive ocean.

So, which is the most effective?

Simple. Both.

Okay, I know I said there was only one, but bear with me.

Living in Harmony

Content and SEO are pretty symbiotic. They go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly (you decide which is which).

SEO tactics focus on enticing search engines, which helps your site climb the ranks and pushes people your way. Content marketing appeals to users once they visit your site, and that activity draws the attention of search engines, which ties back into SEO.

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It’s the circle of life (sort of) designed to work in harmony.

But, if I had to personally pick one, I’d go with content marketing every time.

Why?

Because, while SEO may bring people to your doorstep, content gets them to open the door and stay awhile.

Think of it this way: SEO is a coupon and content is food. The coupon points us to a new restaurant, but the quality of the food keeps us there and brings us back over and over and over.

The Message is the Key

Content is king, and always has been. Long before they coined the terms “content marketing” or “SEO,” long before there was an internet (remember those dark days?), marketers and companies have understood that the message is the key.

That message not only provides information people want, it gives them what they need. It also persuades them to act, whether they just ask for more details, or, best of all, buy our products and services.

How you connect with your audience through that message (i.e. content) is the first step in developing and maintaining a long fruitful relationship.

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But, take my advice, don’t just rely on content.

You want to increase traffic and engage visitors? Spend time and effort developing content marketing and SEO tailored to attract and appeal to your target audience.

Write creative and informative content they can’t ignore, and apply carefully-crafted SEO techniques to draw them to it.

Together, content marketing and SEO work harder to generate high quality leads, increase measurable ROI, optimize marketing efforts, generate sales, and build a loyal customer base more than they ever could on their own.

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