What Is the Difference Between SEO and Content Marketing?

As you get involved with marketing your business online through your website, you are going to come across many terms. You are likely to come across the terms SEO and content marketing. Some marketers will use them interchangeably while others say one is more important than the other.

This confusion might make you wonder where you should be putting your focus. Do you need to be learning all the SEO tricks and the ends and outs of search engine rankings? Or should you spend your time writing more content for your website? Luckily, doing both SEO and content marketing is simple.

Defining SEO and Content Marketing

SEO is an essential marketing tool in the digital world. Short for “search engine optimization,” it refers to any approach that you use to get a website to organically rank higher on search engines for appropriate key terms. SEO is a macro term, referring to any approach one might use to obtain these search results. Strategies that someone may use to help their SEO include:

  • Keyword Oriented Content Writing
  • Backlinking (links from other websites back to your site)
  • Optimized Technical Components, etc.

There are many ways a website can approach SEO. It is not a specific way of addressing a search ranking.

Content marketing is the practice of creating the words and media on a website, blog, or other online platform. Good content marketing requires many web pages that are highly readable and regularly updated. With content marketing, digital marketers rely on content to move websites to the top of search results.

So, What Is the Difference?

Content marketing is an approach to SEO. It is one that focuses almost entirely on on-site content, rather than backlinking, guest posting, or any other style of SEO. It is based on the idea that if you turn your website into a giant hub of information, other websites will link back to you naturally, and search engines will reward your website for the content itself.

Content marketing is often slightly slower than some of the other SEO practices. However, many businesses find that it is their ideal choice. Backlinking, for example, can be difficult, expensive, and you are at the mercy of the website the link is on. The idea behind backlinking is that, if a respected site links to you, it’s a sign that your website must be worthwhile – in many ways it is a form of trust. Search engines reward that by jumping you ahead of other websites that may not have the same level of trust.

Backlinking is what many other SEO companies do, because it is fast and there are ways to cheat through it. But you are also at the mercy of two things:

  • The website that your link is on.
  • The spam algorithm of search engines.

First, any gains you make with your backlink can disappear immediately if the website your link is on gets deleted, loses its rank, or if Google misses the link with its algorithm update. You’re entirely dependent on the other site.

In addition, search engines all have spam algorithms that try to capture when a link was not deserved – for example, if your SEO company used a spam website with a good page rank to link to you and boost you in search engines (very common), then as soon as the search engine realizes that the link is spam, it will exclude it – and may even punish you.

Contact marketing, however, is typically near-permanent. Provided that the content you write is unique, engaging, detailed, and useful – and assuming you continue to update it over time – any improvements you make in search engines are in your control, unlikely to change, and come with additional benefits such as earning trust with website visitors. With content marketing based SEO, you own your progress. In fact, some SEO companies use backlinks that they own, and if you cancel their service, they delete the backlinks. But with content, you own it all. Everything created for you is yours forever.

So while there are many approaches to SEO, content marketing is the one that we believe has the most long term benefits, the most cost efficiency, and the most transparent approach. It is not always as fast as other SEO tactics, but it is the longest lasting.

Want content marketing? Contact Great Leap Studios today.


  • Micah Abraham

    Micah Abraham is the owner and lead content writer at Great Leap Studios (https://GreatLeapStudios.com) and High Volt Digital (https://HighVoltDigital.com).
    Micah has over 15 years of content writing and digital marketing experience, and has owned and operated Great Leap Studios since 2013 and High Volt since 2022.
    He has a degree in Psychology from the University of Washington, and has researched and written content on a wide range of topics in the medical and health fields, home services, tech, and beyond.
    Micah lives with his family in California.

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