The 3 Commandments of SEO Content Marketing in 2022

October 26, 2021

Have you been writing content that seems to eternally languish in the lonely trenches of Google’s ranking pages?

You may be making one mistake.

You’re writing content that’s not optimized for SEO.

And therein lies the difference between content marketing and SEO content marketing.

There’s content—and then there’s content that’s optimized for SEO.

If this has been your experience, don’t throw up your hands in frustration. This article will let you in on some essentials—some commandments if you may, of SEO content marketing.

Before we jump in, let’s first understand that organizations adopt various approaches to marketing.

According to a study by Hubspot, where over 1,500 marketing executives were interviewed globally, the top 5 approaches to marketing are:

  1. Social Media Marketing
  2. SEO Marketing
  3. ABM (Accounts Based Marketing)
  4. Content Creation
  5. Generating referrals.
organization’s primary approach to marketing


As you can see, SEO marketing is the 2nd most preferred marketing method while content creation is the 4th.

Let’s now dive into SEO content marketing.

What is SEO Content Marketing?

While SEO and content marketing are described and studied separately in marketing research circles, as the Hubspot study above reveals, there’s a way in which they can be uniquely integrated to form a distinctive (and highly effective) marketing approach.

But first, let’s take a look at what these words mean.

What is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is the marketing approach that involves creation of valuable and relevant content to achieve the desired customer response, usually sales.

This is important because sometimes the goal of content marketing is not to drive sales. Sometimes it’s lead generation. Sometimes it’s brand awareness. And sometimes it’s user engagement.

In fact, both B2B and B2C marketers cite brand awareness as the number one marketing objective that they have managed to successfully achieve.

While it’s fine to focus on making your brand known, businesses should not lose focus of the bottom line—the overarching goal of any business.

In this respect, brand awareness is simply a means to an end and not the end itself.

If you look at it, what business leaders really care about is how their businesses actually perform—the Return on Investment (ROI).

And since only a small fraction of businesses are satisfied with their content marketing results—27% according to a study by Content Marketing Institute—there seems to be a compelling case for a more effective way to craft content.

That’s where SEO content marketing comes in.

But how can you be sure that you’re doing it right?

Let’s take a look at these essentials.

Commandment # 1: Create Content That is Pure Gold

It’s not just about SEO. We’re talking about SEO content marketing. So apart from keyword research and stuff, there’s no bypassing quality content.

Remember we’re integrating SEO and content.

This involves creating content that is relevantthat people are looking for based on analysis of Google and other search engines.

Your content is the major driver of organic traffic. And all the elements of  quality content play a role:

  • A unique, attractive headline
  • A compelling introduction
  • Content that answers to the user’s intent
  • A compelling Call To Action (CTA).

How To Craft an SEO-Optimized Headline

Click, dismiss.Click, dismiss. Click, dismiss. Click, dismiss. Click, read.

You may have heard that 80% of your readers will read your headline compared with only 20% who will read the content.

David Ogilvy puts it in financial terms:

“When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents out of your dollar.”

To craft a magnetic headline, ensure you incorporate the 4 U’s—the evergreen content advice for writers.

Your headline must be

  • Unique
  • Ultra-specific
  • Urgent
  • Useful

There’s a bonus: Headlines that have numbers perform well with search engines.

But let’s not be abstract. Consider these examples.

  1. Ways of Learning Science
  2. The Best Ways of Learning Science
  3. How to Make Leaning Chemistry Fun
  4. 10 Fun-filled Ways of Learning Chemistry
  5. 10 Fun-filled Ways of Learning the Periodic Table in 2022

Which one would you choose? I’m pretty sure you’d pick the last.

The last option checks all the U boxes that we’ve mentioned above.

Of course this is about SEO content marketing. So there’s a lot of preliminary keywords research that you should test and use.

Tools like Surfer SEO and AnswerThePublic are wonderful for a keywords search query.

AnswerThePublic uses a technique called Search listening, a research-backed method that helps you understand the needs, interests and concerns of your clients.

How To Write a SEO-Optimized Introduction and Body

According to Henneke Duistermaat, founder of Enchanted Marketing,

“The most seductive opening paragraphs empathize with a reader, and make him feel less alone.”

In SEO content marketing, you should ensure that your opening paragraphs are also true to the headline.

Google punishes click-baits.

Also, try to incorporate your primary keyword right in your first sentence. It helps reinforce the idea that you’re true to the topic.

Then there’s the form and flow of your content.

Content marketers prefer listicles because they rank highly on search engines.

But let’s avoid jargon. What exactly is a listicle?

If you’re a writer, you’ll see that the root word of the word listicle is “list.”

So a listicle is content that’s written in a list form, for example: 32 Pictures You Need To See Before You Die.

Google ranks listicles highly because people find them simple, scannable, and hence—easily readable.

Listicles are also perfect if you want zero-click content. Zero-click content is content that you’ll read without clicking to the actual website.

This is an example.

Google search result


And make no mistake. Zero-Click content is on the rise. Zero-click Google searches rose to nearly 65% in 2020.

Then there’s the CTA, the acronym for Call To Action.

It’s startling that 70% of small business B2B websites lack CTA’s on their web content. Without a Call To Action, your SEO content strategy is dead on arrival.

Search engine optimization and great content will not make people buy your products.

You must be intentional.

You want to craft some great content? Check out—

Commandment # 2: You Must Put Your Money on SEO and Content Marketing

You can’t achieve the results in any commercial endeavour without investing money in that specific endeavour.

And for your content to rank well in search queries, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is.

Here are some statistics:

For every $100 that is spent on marketing by B2B companies, $26 is spent on content marketing as of 2019.

But wait for the punch.

The most successful companies “spend 40% on content marketing, while the least successful spend a paltry 14%.

And while businesses have been opening purse strings—they are still not open enough.

According to LeadForensics, only 43% of marketing teams have a designated content manager.

There’s clearly room for improvement.

Commandment # 3: Videos Should Form Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

Companies who want to create content must rely on data-driven strategies to craft SEO optimized content.

And according to the latest data, videos trump words when it comes to the most preferred content form.

So while it’s fine to write good content that will be ranking on the first page for many moons, you should put more effort in coming up with quality videos as part and parcel of that content.

Your digital marketing should include videos because videos are the most preferred form of marketing by the target audience of businesses. This is followed by blogs and infographics.

Primary Forms of Media Used Within Content Strategy in 2021


And while 1-minute videos are still the most watched, the greatest growth is in the 30-60 minute category.

Video Marketing Strategy with Wistia


And for videos, it’s good to know that Google is biased towards those on the YouTube sister platform.

The Future is SEO Content Marketing

If marketing trends are anything to go by, SEO content marketing will continue to define the marketing landscape.

Marketing content will be optimized by the use of keywords and keyword research. 

Yet companies seem to be ill-equipped to seize the moment. The following are some of the top challenges companies face in their endeavour to create SEO content.

  • Producing content that is of high quality
  • Creating content regularly
  • Subject-matter expertise
  • Lack of time
Katrina McKinnon


I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of CopySmiths and Small Revolution. In my 20 years of experience, I have helped online businesses create high-performing content specifically on an eCommerce store's blog. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.