Google: is content marketing #1 for SEO?
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Rule the rankings: the power of content marketing for SEO in 2024

It's official. Content marketing is the #1 ranking factor for SEO. Why? How? Keep reading for insider tips from someone who's written for hundreds of B2Bs for 9 years.

As of 2024, Google has declared: content marketing for SEO is the #1 factor for ranking.

The search engine recently revamped its SEO Starter Guide which pulls no punches: crafting top-notch content is now non-negotiable for achieving stellar SERP results.

Don’t believe me that content marketing is powerful? I’ve got data. In 2023, 58% of B2B marketers saw increased sales and revenue thanks to content marketing

So, if you haven’t spent time or money on a blog, case studies, emails or socials because you’re not convinced of ROI…think again.

Another stat for the old school marketers out there: content marketing can 6x your conversions, while costing a whopping 62% less than traditional marketing.

Honestly, content marketing is a no-brainer. Whether you’re a strapped tech startup focused on conversions, or an established corporate focused on positioning and thought leadership, a smart content strategy can get you results.

And with the shifting digital landscape and Google’s AI guidance in the March Core Update, the stakes are higher than ever. Mediocre, robotic content won’t make the cut.

Why is content marketing so important for SEO?

Repeat after me: I will not flood the web with useless content; I’ll make every word count.

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience”.

Google’s latest update confirmed its focus on quality. The engine wants to give searchers the answers to their questions…whether they’re looking for a freelance B2B copywriter or a hairdresser in their local area.

Content that follows EEAT principles (a blend of authority, expertise and raw engagement) is prioritised. Is an advertorial or educational blog more likely to fit the brief?

Compare what content marketing is and what Google is looking for…and BINGO. You have a match.

Content that is genuinely valuable, useful and from a trustworthy source climbs search engine rankings.  

The real money maker? Crafting pieces that are packed with insights and irresistible to read. Blogs, videos and case studies that nail your audience's needs and keep them coming back for more.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking SEO in 2024 is about stuffing keywords into every page and hoping for the best. Google has moved on and so has your audience.

Every article, blog post or email campaign should serve a dual purpose: answer your audience's most pressing questions and provide them with a reason to return.

Tips for optimising your content for SEO

If you’ve neglected content marketing all together, or you’ve let your strategy fall by the wayside, it’s time to get started.

Here are 5 tips from a freelance B2B content marketer (me) to get you spinning SEO gold with every piece of content you publish.

Dive deep with audience research

First things first, think about why you are creating this content (hint: it can’t just be for SEO) and who it will help. Even if you thought about this last year, it probably needs a refresh. 

Forget assumptions. You need to really get under the skin of your audience.

What tickles their fancy? What keeps them up at night?

Deploy tools like Google Analytics, forums like Reddit and Quora and social media insights to mine rich data about their behaviours and preferences. If you have customer data or client surveys, dig for gold. 

This kind of research is how you pinpoint killer content topics that mesh perfectly with your audience's searches, enhancing your 'Content Marketing and SEO' strategy.

Keyword magic, not keyword madness

Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing.

Start by answering your audience’s question and then pepper in your keywords carefully. If you’ve done enough research and started with user intent, this should come relatively easy. 

Use research tools like Ubersuggest, Semrush, ahrefs and Google Trends to unearth the best keywords that capture true user intent. These are some of my favourites, but there are a lot of alternatives…find one you like using a free trial before paying as some are expensive.

Weave your chosen keywords naturally into your headlines, subheaders and body content. I like to use my primary keyword in the first and last 100 words, and then five or six times throughout the piece.

If you’re a marketer working with freelance copywriters or freelance content marketers you can either:

  • Do the keyword strategy yourself and tell them what needs to be included
  • Engage an SEO specialist to do the strategy and tell the writers what needs to be included
  • Ask your freelance writers to do it for you - most know how.

EEAT your way to the top

Remember, Google is hungry for quality and it wants EEAT — expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

Source: Google

When you’re deciding what content to create, feed it with content that positions you as the go-to in your field.  Of course, your content strategy will cover this from a macro level, but make sure you start each piece with a strong objective in mind. 

Whether you’re dissecting trends or forecasting the future of tech, show off your chops. This isn’t the time to be modest; flaunt your expertise and watch your authority (and rankings) soar.

Engaging content that sticks

Why just be found when you can be followed?

Elevate your content with snappy headlines, engaging visuals and irresistible calls to action that make every visitor stick around and click around. Devote most of your content to ‘evergreen’ topics…pieces that will still be relevant in five years’ and will continue to work for you in SERPs.

Also…make sure your content performs like a rockstar on any device — mobile-friendliness is non-negotiable.

Measure, tweak, repeat

One amazing thing about content marketing and SEO? It can be measured.

Decide how you’re going to measure your efforts early on, because throwing content into the web without tracking its performance is like winking in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but no one else does.

Plus, at some point you’re probably going to have tough budget conversations with your boss or report on performance to stakeholders. 

Keep tabs on how your content is performing with metrics like engagement rates, conversion rates and (of course) SERP rankings.

Use these insights to constantly refine your tactics. The goal? A content strategy that evolves as fast as Google’s algorithms.

Can I use AI to help with content marketing for SEO?

Now time to address the elephant in the room.

What if you don’t have enough time to write all of this content? Or the resources? 

I work with a lot of marketing and content leads who get caught up in content jams, unable to spend the time creating. The result? Their rankings drop.

I also know there isn’t always enough budget to hire freelance content marketers. If this is you, yes, AI can help speed up the process at minimal cost.

The catch? You have to use AI carefully if you want to rank.

Google published guidance on this in its March Core Update, sending shockwaves through marketing communities. It marked a shift in Google’s approach to content evaluation, but gave helpful guidance on how to avoid being penalised for using tools like ChatGPT.

Understanding the impact of AI scrutiny

AI-generated content, especially if it’s being churned out en masse, is now Google's public enemy number one.

If your strategy involves leveraging AI to produce volumes of content, it's time to pivot — fast. Google is deindexing (essentially, deleting) sites that rely too heavily on AI. Why? Because they don’t stick to the EEAT principles I mentioned earlier.

It’s worth doing a thorough audit of your existing content if you know AI has been used. Identify any content that might be considered low-quality or AI-generated and revise or remove it to align with Google’s new standards. 

With that out of the way, how can you level up your content marketing without falling into the AI trap? Make sure every piece:

  • Showcases real expertise: share insights from industry experts or case studies from real-world applications
  • Boosts authoritativeness: link to reputable sources and include quotes from known experts
  • Enhances trustworthiness: ensure your content is accurate, up-to-date, and transparent about authorship and sourcing.

You can do this using AI, but not if you ask ChatGPT to write your entire blog without any human input. The tech just isn’t there yet – you still need human eyes and a human brain to create really useful, trustworthy content.

How to use AI to write content

AI can still be a part of your toolkit, but I recommend using it as a co-pilot. When you’re creating content for SEO, use it for:

  • Brainstorming and ideation: let AI help you come up with content ideas and outlines, but infuse them with your unique expertise and insight
  • Research support: use AI to gather and sift through data, but always verify facts and stats to ensure accuracy before publication.

Avoid overeliance: steer clear of using AI for generating entire sections of text. Instead, use it for rough drafts or to get over writer's block.

Content marketing: the secret to top rankings

So, there you have it. The blueprint for thriving with content marketing in the ever-evolving world of SEO as dictated by Google. 

If you want to be visible online, it’s time to elevate your content or get left behind.

Now more than ever, your content needs to be sharp, valuable and undeniably human.

Don’t fall into the trap of writing just for Google. Dive deep into understanding your audience, use AI as your ally (not your crutch) and keep your content's quality tightly aligned with EEAT principles.

Busy content marketer who doesn’t have time to write? Let’s talk. Schedule a no strings attached call with me to find out how you can stay on Page 1.


What other criteria does Google use to determine website rankings?

Besides content quality, Google considers several other factors like page speed, mobile-friendliness, user experience, inbound links, and secure connections (HTTPS). Each plays a crucial role in where your site lands in the SERPs.

How often should I update my content to stay relevant in SERPs?

Regular updates are important and useful for fuelling your content pipeline. Aim to review and refresh your content at least every six months, especially for fast-changing topics. This keeps your information current and maintains your authority in Google’s eyes.

Can I still use AI to generate content after the latest Google update?

Yes, but with caution. AI can help with content marketing for SEO, particularly with drafting and data gathering. But the final draft should always include human insight to ensure it aligns with Google's quality guidelines focused on authenticity and expertise.

Are backlinks still important for SEO in 2024?

Absolutely. Backlinks remain a powerful indicator of your content's authority and relevance. Focus on earning high-quality links from reputable sources to boost your SEO performance.

What is the best way to measure the success of my SEO efforts?

At the minimum, track metrics such as organic traffic, conversion rates and keyword rankings. Tools like Google Analytics and Semrush can provide detailed insights into your SEO performance and highlight areas for improvement.

Written by

Caroline Voaden
Google: is content marketing #1 for SEO?
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