Content marketing involves creating and sharing content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. Search engine optimization (SEO) optimizes web content and site architecture to improve visibility in search engines’ unpaid results.

Here, you’ll find:

Content marketing and SEO are two unique components of digital marketing. But they need each other to perform optimally and deliver a better return on investment.

Brands that understand the relationship between SEO and content marketing — and how they can combine both strategies into one streamlined plan — crush their marketing goals.

That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is the strategic process of producing and distributing content online for a targeted audience.

Its goal is to establish expertise, promote brand awareness, and keep your business top of mind when customers are looking to buy your product or service.

Content marketing can include blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media updates.

For example, a home decor store may create a series of blog posts on interior decorating tips to attract customers looking to revamp their homes.

What is SEO?

SEO focuses on increasing your website’s traffic through organic search engine results. It uses a mix of strategies that include keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization, and technical SEO to boost a site’s ranking in search.

Four components of SEO: Keyword research, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO

  • Keyword research: Identifying the terms people are looking for on search engines so you can tailor your content to align with their search intent
  • On-page SEO: Optimizing individual web pages (content and HTML source code) for specific keywords to improve search ranking
  • Off-page SEO: Getting backlinks from other websites to increase your site’s trustworthiness and ranking
  • Technical SEO: Ensuring your site is structured in a way that Google, Bing, and other search engines can easily access, crawl, and index its content

How much does content marketing and SEO cost?

The cost of content marketing and SEO varies, however, you can expect to pay $5,000 to $20,000 monthly for content marketing, which includes strategy, writing, optimizing, and content in various formats (email, blog, social). For SEO, fixed rates range from $3,000 to $10,000 per month, with local SEO costing $500 to $1,000 monthly. One-time SEO projects can run between $5,000 and $30,000.

Differences between content marketing and SEO

Content marketing and SEO are complementary to each other but have inherent differences in how they’re planned, executed, and measured.

Here are three broad differences:

  • Focus: Content marketing is focused on using content to engage and retain an audience. SEO concentrates on improving a site’s visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs).
  • Tactics: Content marketing involves creating and distributing content. SEO involves optimizing that content and the website’s technical structure to rank higher in search results.
  • Measurement of success: Success in content marketing is typically measured by engagement metrics like shares, time on site, and conversion rates. In contrast, SEO success is measured by rankings, organic traffic, and visibility in search results.

Despite their differences, content marketing and SEO aren’t mutually exclusive. They work best when integrated.

How SEO and content marketing work together

SEO and content marketing work hand-in-hand in numerous ways.

Enhancing visibility through quality content

Content marketing focuses on creating content that addresses your audience’s needs and interests.

SEO uses this content to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results.

For instance, when you publish a well-researched blog post on “How to take care of indoor plants,” SEO helps someone searching for indoor plant care tips finds your article in Google’s top results.

Driving targeted traffic with keywords

SEO involves identifying and integrating relevant keywords your target audience uses in search queries.

Content marketing then leverages these keywords to create content that’s not only valuable but also discoverable.

Imagine you run a coffee shop. You can conduct keyword research to find people frequently searching for “best espresso brewing techniques.” You can create content around this topic, attracting coffee enthusiasts to your site.

Maximizing content reach through link-building

High-quality, resourceful content encourages other websites to link back to your site. And it’s a key search ranking factor.

These backlinks improve your site’s authority and search rankings.

Improving user experience

SEO also aims to optimize the user experience. This includes ensuring your site is fast and easy to navigate, which content marketing benefits from.

Users who find your website easy to use are likelier to stay back longer and engage with your content.

Building authority and trust

Regularly publishing high-quality content establishes your brand as an authority in your field.

SEO enhances this by ensuring your content ranks well, which signals to search engines (and users) that your site is a credible source of information.

For example, readers are more likely to trust your fitness-related advice if your fitness blog consistently appears at the top of search results for various workout tips.

“Separating content marketing from SEO is like trying to sail a boat without wind. Both elements need to work together to move your brand towards the desired results,” said Sam Yadegar, Co-founder & CEO of HawkSEM.

“Our team opts for a performance-centric model that combines valuable content creation with strategic SEO practices. This ensures not just visibility but meaningful engagement that leads to conversions. It’s all about leveraging organic touchpoints to attract, captivate, and convert your audience into loyal customers.”

How to create an integrated content marketing and SEO strategy

Creating a cohesive content marketing and SEO strategy ensures every content piece you publish and every optimization you apply directly supports your business goals. This maximizes your online presence and impact.

Here are the steps to combine both these digital marketing functions to build a strong strategy:

  1. Define your target audience and buyer personas
  2. Set clear goals and objectives
  3. Conduct keyword research
  4. Perform a content audit
  5. Develop a content plan and editorial calendar
  6. Create high-quality, helpful content
  7. Optimize your content for search engines
  8. Promote your content through various channels
  9. Build high-quality backlinks

Define your target audience and buyer personas

Knowing your target audience helps create content that meets their needs and interests, leading to higher engagement and conversions.

Start by curating data from your current customers and broader market research. Use surveys, interviews, and website analytics to gather information on demographics, interests, pain points, and buying behaviors.

You should also talk to your sales teams to gain insights into the needs, challenges, and objections of your customers.

Look for common characteristics and themes that emerge from your data. This can include age groups, preferred social media platforms, common challenges, or specific interests.

Then, use these data points to create detailed buyer personas. (A buyer persona is a semi-fictional image or representation of a segment of your target audience.)

Ultimately, you want to use these personas to guide your content creation and targeting.

For each piece of content, ask, “Which persona am I addressing? How does this meet their needs or solve their problems?”

Further reading: How to Build a Target Audience: 6 Steps to Find Yours

Set clear goals and objectives

Aligning your content marketing and SEO efforts with your business goals ensures your strategies drive growth and tangible results. Goals give direction and a way to measure success.

Define SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals.

SMART Markering goals where S stands for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Achievable, R for Relevant, and T for Time

For SEO, a goal might be to “Increase organic traffic to the product page by 20% in the next quarter.” For content marketing, it might be to “Generate 100 new leads from blog content in the next month.”

Next, choose key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you track progress towards your goals. These could include website traffic, lead generation rates, or conversion rates.

Finally, regularly review your goals and KPIs to track your progress and adjust as needed. This helps you stay on track and pivot your strategy if necessary.

Conduct keyword research

Keyword research helps you find what your audience is searching for. This allows you to create relevant content in those search results, which can drive more relevant traffic to your site.

Use Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, or other keyword research tools to identify terms and phrases related to your business that people are searching for.

For instance, on Google Keyword Planner, simply select “Discover new keywords:”

Keyword research on Google Keyword Planner with two options: “Discover new keywords” & “Get search volume and forecasts”

Enter your seed term or phrase. And the tool will give you a list of keyword ideas with important data points.

Keyword research on Google Keyword Planner for the seed term “indoor plant care tips”

When choosing keywords, look at keyword difficulty (how hard it’ll be to rank for a keyword), search volume (how many people are searching for it), and relevance (how relevant it is to your business).

From your research, create a list of target keywords.

These keywords should guide your content creation. They should give you ideas on topics relevant to your audience and have a higher chance of ranking well in SERPs.

Include these keywords into your website’s landing pages, blog posts, and meta tags (like title tags and meta descriptions) in a natural, reader-friendly way.

Perform a content audit

A content audit helps you understand what’s working and what’s not. It enables you to make informed decisions on improving your existing content for better engagement and performance.

To get started, collect all your content pieces — including blog posts, pages, videos, and any other content you’ve produced.

Assess each piece for its quality and relevance to your audience. Ask questions like:

  • Is this content up-to-date?
  • Does it still meet the needs of my target audience?
  • Is it accurate and thorough?

Use tools like Google Analytics to see how each content piece is performing. In particular, examine metrics such as page views, bounce rates, session duration, and conversion rates to identify which pieces effectively engage your audience.

Next, organize your findings in a spreadsheet.

Note down each content piece’s title, URL, the date it was published or last updated, performance metrics, and any comments on quality and relevance.

Most importantly:

  • Highlight content that’s performing well to understand what topics and formats your audience likes
  • Identify content that could be updated or repurposed to improve its performance. (They would be a part of your editorial calendar.)

Further reading: 9 Steps to Conducting a Content Marketing Audit

Develop a content plan and editorial calendar

A content plan and editorial calendar ensure your content efforts are systematic, timely, and aligned with your audience’s wants and business goals.

A key task in developing an editorial calendar is syncing content topics with your selected keywords and defined personas.

So, revisit your keyword research and buyer personas. Based on them, decide on the content topics that will most likely engage and attract your target audience.

For example, if “eco-friendly gardening” is a popular search term and your persona is “Green Gardener Gary,” you may decide on a blog post titled “10 Eco-Friendly Gardening Techniques.” This directly aligns with your research and targets your audience’s interests.

You can use a spreadsheet to schedule when each content topic will be produced, published, and promoted. Include the content type, assigned writer or creator, target keyword, and buyer persona it addresses.

You can find many editorial calendar templates online. Here’s one from HubSpot:

An Excel sheet editorial calendar template from HubSpot with columns on published date, due date, PIC, topic/title, content/details, keywords, target personas, and contact person

Ideally, you should create an editorial calendar for up to four months.

Remember to include a mix of content formats in your plan — such as blog posts, use cases, videos, infographics, and case studies — to cater to your audiences’ diverse preferences.

Note: How you approach a content plan may vary on your niche, product type, and business size. For instance, the factors and details you consider with SaaS content marketing will typically differ from content marketing for ecommerce. The same is true for startup vs. enterprise content marketing. So, avoid a templatized approach when developing a content plan. Consider the nuances, trends, and challenges of your target market.

Create high-quality, helpful content

Quality content builds trust and authority with your audience. It differentiates you from competitors and is key to engaging and retaining your audience.

Here are a few quick tips to create high-quality content:

  • Ensure your content provides unique insights, fresh perspectives, or new information. Even when covering well-trodden topics, look for angles that haven’t been explored thoroughly.
  • Back up your points with data, expert opinions, and case studies. This adds credibility to your content and makes it more valuable to your readers.
  • Create your content with the reader in mind. Use engaging headlines to grab attention, subheadings to split up the text and make it easier to skim, and short paragraphs to improve readability.
  • Experiment with different content formats to see what your audience prefers. Videos may work better for tutorials, while detailed guides may be better suited as blog posts or ebooks.

Further reading: What is Quality Content? How to Create It + Free Checklist

Need help creating engaging content that dominates search results?

At HawkSEM, we offer SEO and content marketing services. Our team of specialist writers has extensive experience creating high-quality SEO content for clients in different industries.

Team up with us and let our writers care for your end-to-end SEO content writing needs. Contact us today.

Optimize your content for search engines

Boost your content’s visibility on SERP by ensuring it’s SEO-friendly. It’ll help you attract more organic visitors to your website.

Start by integrating keywords (naturally) into your content, titles, and headings. This lets search engines understand what your content is about and show it in relevant searches.

Use meta tags, which include titles and descriptions, that briefly describe your content to search engine users. Make them compelling and include your target keywords to improve click-through rates.

Ensure your content is easy to read and navigate. How? Use short paragraphs (one paragraph should be no more than three sentences), bullet points, and subheadings to break up text and make your points clearer.

Also, focus on technical SEO. Work on your website’s technical aspects, such as improving page speed and ensuring it’s mobile-friendly.

Fast, responsive sites are ranked higher by search engines and provide a better user experience.

We have a separate guide on technical SEO. Check out Technical SEO: An Easy-to-Follow Guide + 6 Improvement Tips

If you still need help, get in touch with our SEO expert.

Promote your content through various channels

Promoting your content across various channels broadens its reach, brings in new audiences, and enhances engagement. This multi-channel execution maximizes the impact of your content marketing efforts.

Start by leveraging social media channels. Share your informative content on LinkedIn, Facebook, X (previously Twitter), and other platforms where your audience is most active. Tailor your messages to fit each platform’s unique style and audience.

Send out newsletters and content updates to your email list. Personalize your email marketing campaign to increase open rates and bring traffic back to your site.

You can also collaborate with industry leaders and influencers. Their endorsement can amplify your content’s reach and lend credibility to your brand.

Build high-quality backlinks

High-quality backlinks from reputable sites boost your site’s authority and trustworthiness for search engines. This leads to improved search rankings and organic traffic.

There are several link-building tactics.

One of the best tactics is link baiting. The idea is to produce content that’s so good other sites naturally want to link to it. This can be original research, comprehensive guides, or insightful analyses.

Guest blogging is another popular tactic for getting backlinks. Write articles for other websites in your industry. Choose reputable sites and include your site link in your author bio or within the content (if permitted).

The simplest way to find guest blogging opportunities is to search on Google “write for us + [your topic/industry].”

Like this:

Find guest blogging opportunities by searching on Google “write for us + [your topic].” In this example, it’s “write for us + diet.”

Link-building can be challenging, especially if you’re looking for relevant backlinks from high-authority websites. In such a case, it’s a good idea to work with link-building experts. Check out 8 Best Link Building Agencies + Questions to Ask Before Hiring One

Best practices to integrate content marketing and SEO

Integrating content marketing and SEO effectively requires strategic coordination and continuous optimization. Here are the best practices you must follow:

  • Hold regular team meetings: Ensure all team members — from content creators to SEO specialists — are aligned on goals and strategies. Use these meetings to set clear objectives, share insights, and discuss challenges.
  • Track performance with a shared dashboard: A centralized dashboard displaying KPIs will help visualize your strategy’s success. Review these insights regularly to make informed adjustments.
  • Develop a content scoring system: Create a system that evaluates content based on SEO and marketing priorities, such as search volume and keyword relevance. This will ensure your team prioritizes creating content with the most significant potential impact.
  • Promote continuous learning: Encourage your team to stay current with the latest SEO and content marketing trends, as well as developments in artificial intelligence. Allocate time for training, experimentation, and testing new strategies.

How to measure your content marketing and SEO success

You need to continuously monitor and analyze your integrated SEO and content marketing strategy to understand the areas that need improvement.

While what metrics you track will depend primarily on your individual goals, here are some common ones you can track:

Website traffic

Site traffic is the number of visitors to your website.

Use Google Analytics to track overall traffic and its sources (organic search, direct visits, referrals, social media, etc.).

Google Analytics 4 dashboard showing the user acquisition metrics, including where the website traffic came from

Look at trends over time to see if your traffic is growing and which channels are driving the most visitors.

Keyword rankings

Keyword rankings tell you where your SEO content ranks in search engine results for specific keywords.

Use tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Google Search Console to track your target keywords’ rankings.

Look for improvements in rankings as a sign that your SEO efforts are paying off.

Engagement rates

Engagement rates show how visitors interact with your content. Specific metrics include time on page, pages per session, and bounce rate.

Within Google Analytics, check the Engagement section to see how long people stay on your pages, how many pages they visit, and the percentage of visitors who leave after browsing only one page.

Google Analytics 4 dashboard showing website’s engagement metrics, including views by page title and screen class, user stickiness, and more


Backlinks shows the number and quality of other websites that link to your content.

Tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Moz show the number of backlinks your content has and the authority of the linking sites.

Here’s a sample of a backlink review overview from Semrush:

Sample backlink review overview from Semrush showing the number of backlinks and referring domains of a URL.

Aim for links from reputable sites in your industry.

Conversion rates

This is the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a guide, or purchasing.

Google Analytics lets you set goals to track conversions. You can define various actions as conversions and then monitor how many visitors complete these actions.

Sample report from Google Analytics 4 showing the number of conversions

“At HawkSEM, we use ConversionIQ, our proprietary tool. It lets us track every step of the buyer journey at a more granular level, helping us understand what aspects of content marketing and SEO are working and what needs improvement,” says Yadegar.

“Moreover, ConversionIQ also provides insights into the target audience, which we use to optimize other marketing channels, such as social media and PPC. This allows us to build and implement a really integrated digital marketing strategy for our clients.”

Partnering with an SEO and content marketing services provider

Working with an agency that offers SEO and content marketing services can be a better option for you.


  • Expertise and experience: Agencies bring a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record in SEO and content marketing, ensuring your strategy is built on solid expertise.
  • Time and resource efficiency: Outsourcing frees your internal team to prioritize core business activities, while the agency handles the complexities of content creation and SEO.
  • Access to advanced tools: Agencies have access to premium tools and technologies that may be expensive for your business to access independently.
  • Continuous optimization: Agencies continually monitor, analyze, and adjust strategies to stay ahead of search engine algorithm changes. This ensures optimal performance and ROI for you.

The team at HawkSEM has helped hundreds of brands grow their online visibility and success with an integrated content marketing and SEO strategy.

For instance, we helped Moneta Group, a leading wealth management firm, grow organic keywords in the top three search results by 164%. We increased their net organic keyword portfolio by 326% and Google Analytics goal completions by 23.5%.

Want similar results? Talk to our experts today.

HawkSEM is one of the fastest-growing digital marketing agencies that works with brands like Nike, Microsoft, Honda, and Verizon. We offer end-to-end inbound marketing services.

Book a free consultation, and let’s create an integrated content marketing and SEO strategy for your brand.

The takeaway

Don’t look at content marketing and SEO in silos. They need to work together to deliver optimum results.

Creating an integrated strategy involves publishing content that aligns with what the search engines and users want.

In this article, we discussed the steps to streamline the process of creating this strategy that checks all the content marketing and SEO fundamentals.

If you need help, get in touch with us today.

Contact HawkSEM for Free Consultation