September 6, 2018

What is Content Writing and how does it differ from Content Marketing?

“Content is king.”

The quote is everywhere—a true stalwart of a concept in marketing departments across the world.

But with so many different types of content out there, it’s difficult for businesses to understand where they should invest their energy. Once they do understand, it’s even harder to commit to a long term content strategy.

It just so happens that we agree with the marketing world’s overused motto: Content is king.

But any old content written by anyone with a laptop and idea simply won’t cut it.

Today we’re going to explore the concept of content writing and the role of a content writer. By the end of the day, you will be able to differentiate SEO content from marketing and ad content, and you will have a deeper understanding of what it takes to write great content.

What’s the purpose of original content?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that for the most part, every single piece of content created by an organization will serve multiple purposes.

For example:

A high quality marketing video can drive engagement when posted to a company’s social media channels, it can help educate users of a website on what a company does, or it can influence purchasing decisions on a sales landing page. It can even help the company improve rankings on search engines.

At the end of the day, however, each piece of content is created with a primary goal. There’s an overarching reason for its existence, and the secondary benefits are just the cherry on top.

If we go back to our video example, the main purpose may be increasing conversion rates on a sales landing page. If the video increases traffic by ranking, or by driving engagement on social channels, that’s an added benefit that the company will gladly enjoy.

Content marketing vs. content writing for the web

The video example from above helps illuminate the difference between content marketing as a whole, and content writing for the web.

Let’s start by examining the definitions of the two terms:

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is a company or organization’s production and distribution of original content. This content has various objectives, from raising awareness and driving engagement, to influencing purchase decisions and public opinion.

Companies create content because content is engaging. It often adds value or elicits emotions that create loyalty and influence action.

Here are some examples of content types that could be used in a company’s content marketing strategy:

  • Videos
  • Blog posts
  • Whitepapers
  • E-Books
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Images
  • Animations
  • GIFs

When it comes to content marketing, the options are truly endless, and the strategy a company engages will depend on its end goal.

What is content writing, or written content for the web?

Content writing is online writing that goes hand in hand with a company’s larger scale content marketing campaigns and initiatives.

Content writing for the web has much more specific objectives than content marketing as a whole:

The creation of written content for the web often derives from specific SEO objectives. In other words, a content writer should always embark on a content writing project with a knowledge of the keywords being targeted, and the role of the piece in driving targeted traffic to specific pages of the website.

Without this preliminary knowledge—which relies on a data-driven research process—a content writer can’t hope to produce effective content. While the content may have a chance of educating or providing information to a select few who see it, the overall results will not justify the effort that went into writing the piece.

As we discussed in the video example, every piece of content has secondary objectives in addition to its primary purpose. Content written for the web is no different.

In fact, content writers need to be as aware of user experience signals as they are of stricter objectives such as the inclusion of specific keywords:

The quality of the content, ranging from its ability to engage users to its visual appearance will affect the way that users interact with it. In turn, this data contributes to search engine rankings. Metrics like Clickthrough Rate (CTR) also contribute greatly to a piece of content’s search ranking.

What does a content writer need in order to succeed?

  • A knowledge of the primary and secondary keywords being targeted by the piece
  • Justification of the topic that the piece will be covering (is there buzz or interest in the community?)
  • A target audience
  • A knowledge of the company’s brand voice
  • Research skills, in order to understand the topic and create effective content
  • Solid writing skills (duh)

How should SEO content fit into my content marketing strategy?

Let’s return to that favorite quote of ours:

“Content is king.”

Business owners and marketing departments have really taken it to heart.

Just about every company creates some sort of content these days. It’s evident just from looking at social media feeds or navigating to a company’s blog.

The issue lies in the fact that companies tend to put the cart before the horse:

They create content for the sake of creating it, because they’ve heard it will work. They hope that their content will drive engagement and increase traffic to their sales pages even though there isn’t adequate research behind it.

So when it comes to deciding what role written SEO-focused content should play in an overall content marketing strategy, the crucial question becomes the following:

Do you want to actively help your target audience find you or do you want to passively hope that they do?

It’s a rhetorical question, as you may have guessed.

High quality content for SEO needs to be a vital pillar of your marketing strategy

There’s the real answer to the question posed earlier.

If your company lacks a foundation built by SEO content, then even the most engaging alternative types of content will fall flat.

Keep creating the funny GIFs, keep posting on Instagram, and filming great videos. They will work wonders—but organic traffic driven by high quality, heavily researched content is the best way to bring new targeted traffic to your website.

Get data driven content that generates leads for your website

At Sweor, we understand the importance of content written with defined SEO objectives.

In fact, the creation of this content is a crucial element of the product we offer to our clients.

Click here to learn how our data-driven research process and industry leading content will help your company win online.

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