Lee Odden

Essential Q and A on SEO & Content Marketing for Small Businesses

SEO Content Marketing Small BusinessThe idea of making online content that is useful to people as well as easy to find and share applies to any organization whether it’s a B2B software company, a non-profit association or a government organization. There’s so much information being produced and promoted plus a growing array options for consuming content that standing out can be a real challenge.

I recently did a Google+ Hangout with a group of Chamber of Commerce executives from all over the U.S. talking about the role of content in marketing for small businesses. We dug into the fundamentals of what to talk about and how it can create a mutual benefit for SMBs and their customers. We also discussed the notion of empathy for our audiences and how important it is to invest in quality content as well as efforts to make that content easy to find and share.

Here’s a “cliff notes” version for our conversation, which was organized and led by Frank J. Kenny:

What’s more important, content or SEO?

Content is the reason search engines exist and if they didn’t, content would still be what people use to connect online.

In the modern digital marketing mix, it’s a holistic and customer centric approach that wins. That involves objectives and planning but also an understanding of the topics that matter to customers through the buying journey. Knowing how customers seek out answers online and what content formats they prefer is important too. Understanding how to create useful, entertaining information that moves the buyer along from awareness to purchase is how investments in content pay off.

SEO plays a role for discovery across the entire sales cycle to surface brand information that helps buyers come to know your company as the “best answer” to their problem.

By understanding how your target audience Discovers, Consumes and Acts on information, we can optimize to Attract, Engage and Convert them as customers.

How do you decide what to write and how much is enough?

Intuitively, content creation should come from a place of passion about what your company stands for and how it helps customers. There are many reasons people buy a product or service and that translates into stories to be told. As long as different people buy a company’s products and services for different reasons or applications, there will be reasons to create content.

I think it’s important to understand that Content Marketing is not a project. It’s a commitment to your customers that you’re there to help them get the information they need to feel confident about buying from you.

Logistically, content should be planned in an editorial calendar that focuses on the topics, frequency and channels that matter most to potential customers and any other audience you’re trying to connect with: existing customers, the media and industry influencers.

Crawl, walk, run and base the transitions on your goals, resources and monitoring of what’s working and what’s not. Always be optimizing!

How does social media work with search and where does content fit?

I like to say SEO is peanut butter, Social Media is the jelly and content is the bread that holds it all together. Except this sandwich is in more than one dimension.

Content is where your stories get told and both SEO and social media are ways to amplify the reach and engagement of those stories. Insights from SEO keyword research can review topics in demand that you should probably write about to attract customers that are actively looking. At the same time, monitoring social media can reveal topics and trends that can drive your editorial plan by covering issues, topics and especially, answering questions that your customers and buyers are interested in.

Understanding customers, researching relevant keywords, planning, creating, optimizing and promoting content are all part of a process that any small business owner can begin to tackle through a blog or contributing articles to other blogs and industry publications. Think about what kinds of questions customers have when they buy and then create content with answers that is easy to find and compelling to share. Become the best answer for what your business is best at, make it easy to buy and your sales will grow.  That’s a win for everyone.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Thanks for being on the Show Lee. The ideas, insights, and content you brought to the discussion are going to impact the industry more than it realizes.

  2. Avatar Erez Perlmuter says

    Hi, great writing. I’ll add to be authentic, you. Anytime, not just when you write content…

  3. Avatar Perk Idea says

    What i have learnt from the post here today is about the importance of understanding customers way of seeking out information – answers online, understanding their behavior on what influence them online, will help us into optimizing content that attract, engage and convert. What we see here is the essential of researching the customer from A to Z. Identify their questions and attracting them by giving them a solution through content. I see it also a new approach towards integrated marketing. We integrate content marketing, social media and SEO.

    See the common communication process?

    Sender –> Message –> Channel –> Receiver

    Understanding the receiver thoroughly will get you to create the correct and appropriate message and share or distribute your message to the correct channel.

  4. Content is more important now but onsite SEO is critical.