What is Content Integration?
Content Integration is the process of using SEO and Digital PR together to increase visibility and search engine ranking of digital content such as web pages, blog posts, graphics, video, audio, etc. Content integration does this by using keyword consistency across various digital media platforms.
Why is keyword consistency important in content integration? According to research done by Internet marketing company Ahrefs, over 90% of all digital marketing content on the web never gets a single view.
This largely has to do with the fact that most digital content is disconnected, produced in a “one-off” manner without considering its context to related content. It’s not SEO-friendly, in other words, because the content — whether it be text, video, audio, etc. is not part of a connected content cluster (more on content clusters in a bit).
Why is Content Integration Important?
Content integration is important to help ensure that your content ranks higher in Google. When search engines crawl your website, the bots analyze the metatags (title tag, meta description, sitemap.xml) and cross-check this data across digital media platforms for contextual relevance.
After that initial check for contextual relevance, the crawler will look for keyword and keyword phrase consistency across digital media for further verification. This means the bot will analyze inbound and outbound links to see if the linked pages are similar, using the same keywords with a consistent theme.
If so, then the crawl status will reflect “good job.” And this content integration will likely influence a higher ranking in search results over time.
Remember, Google wants to deliver the most relevant search results to users for the best experience. So helping ensure the most relevant and authentic links display towards the top of organic search results is a core tenant of the search engine’s process.
Content Integration and IMC
Content integration is a foundational pillar of IMC, or Integrated Marketing Communications, a marketing concept introduced in the 1980’s by Don Schultz, a professor at Northwestern University. Even before the Internet grew to become a connected series of digital links (hyperlinks) that we recognize today, Schultz recognized the importance of inter-connected marketing campaign components working together to deliver the same message.
Schultz’s goal with IMC was to amplify the chance of engagement with the content. In other words, help ensure that marketing content components had more than just a one-dimensional or one-off relationship to other content in the brand’s content ecosystem.
The IMC concept has evolved from it’s 1980’s pre-digital phase to one today where content integration is a core principle of the next step in IMC. This evolution is referred to as SEM, also known as Search Engine Marketing.
What is SEM?
SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is the next evolution of Integrated Marketing Communications. SEM centers around the model of holistic content development, what I refer to as a “content cluster.”
SEM and the Content Cluster
A content cluster (also known as a content campaign) leverages the impact of various media formats — copy, video, graphics, etc — to strengthen the impact of a singular product or brand message. The content in various digital media formats (copy, video, audio, graphics) are interconnected using related keywords and metatags.
The content cluster approach to content integration recognizes the influence of the search engine crawlers in the process of content discovery. With billions of pages on the web to index and make sense of, the search engines will reward those pages that have a high E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) component. E-A-T is an approach to content marketing that Google has promoted as a best practice in content integration and content marketing.
Search ranking factors in the E-A-T model have a lot to do with what Google refers to as “PQ,” or Page Quality. See how the E-A-T guidelines fit into determining Page Quality in an SEM approach.
The Content Distribution Ecosystem
The Content Distribution Ecosystem, or CDE, is an approach I use to help ensure E-A-T best practices are integrated into each digital marketing and SEM Campaign. The Content Distribution Ecosystem organizes integrated content clusters or campaigns into an ever-evolving content model that increases Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness of the content over time.
As more integrated content clusters are produced, the greater the chances that web pages and other components in the content cluster will rank higher in search. This has to do with the contextual relevance exhibited in across each content cluster through the use of inter-connected keywords and content themes.
A successful Content Distribution Ecosystem builds on the content integration of both SEO and Digital PR. Each has its own place in supporting the goal to rank content higher in search.
SEO in Content Integration
SEO is an extremely important step in Content integration and development of a Content Distribution Ecosystem. The reason?
SEO focuses on discovering high-value keywords and keyword phrases that can be utilized to satisfy the search queries of individuals searching for content that addresses a need. Whether that need be for education, entertainment, self-help, etc., SEO is a requirement for creating content that satisfies a searcher’s need for help and discovery.
Keyword research is an important part of SEO. This is the process of using specialized tools and services such as Moz, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Keywords Everywhere, Keyword Planner, and more. The goal is to uncover keywords and keyword phrases commonly associated with a searcher’s intent.
For example, if you market a diffuser for aromatherapy, you will want to know popular keywords and keyword phrases people use to search for aromatherapy products on the web. Using the Moz keyword tool, you can pull up a list of popularly searched keywords associated with “diffuser.”
In sorting the keyword suggestions by Monthly Volume, we’re able to come up with a strong list of keywords associated with “diffuser” we can use to build a content cluster around.
See this example of what a content cluster for an aromatherapy product would look like developed as a content cluster campaign. Note the popular keyword options that could be integrated across media platforms for consistency and contextual relevance.
Digital PR in Content Integration
Digital PR is the process of creating and sustaining an influential presence on the digital web. Content integration via a model like the Content Distribution Ecosystem is a foundation of success in Digital PR. SEO supplements the creation of Expertise, Authoritative, and Trustworthy content (the Google E-A-T content model).
Let’s take a look at each of the three core principles of Digital PR: Content Creation, Content Sustainability, and Influence.
In order to have an impact, content such as web pages, blog posts, press releases, etc. need to be thought of beyond the scope of one-offs. Too often in digital marketing, content development becomes reactionary. Many times this happens because the individuals or individual departments responsible for new products and services haven’t communicated well with the digital marketing or Public Relations team on timing.
So, a web page is thrown together quickly to be live when the product or service goes live. This accelerated content development process leaves little time for keyword research. So the web page goes live with an internal perspective on what customers are looking for in search.
Sometimes this works, but more often not. So when the page starts under-performing, measured by high Bounce Rates and minimal Time on Site metrics from Google Analytics, it’s quickly decided that a press release and blog post need to be pushed out.
And the disconnect between content pieces proliferates.
Integrated content creation in Digital PR needs to be thought of from a strategic perspective, encompassing multiple digital media platforms. This way, a Core Value Proposition can be integrated into various media in a way that highlights the strength of the media platform: visual for video and infographics, data and facts for press releases and blog posts.
In order to build influence in SEM, content must have a long and relevant shelf life. Search engine crawlers work tirelessly 24/7 to index every piece of content on the web. Just because a piece of content is crawled once doesn’t mean it won’t, and can’t, get crawled again.
This is where re-freshing legacy content in a Digital PR campaign has real benefits. Assuming the content has a high E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness) factor, updating this content with new links, additional related keywords, etc. will keep the search engines crawling the content as new changes are discovered.
Over time, this keeps the content fresh, while helping it to sustain its place in rankings and rising in organic search rankings over time. The search engines will continue to crawl regularly updated content for years. This means your content can continue to have a high degree of influence for a long time.
Content Influence is measured by how often it is engaged with. Engagement is measured by things like Views (for video), Time on Site (for web pages), Clickthrough (for links).
Content that has a high degree of influence, meaning high levels of engagement, tells the search engine crawlers that it is content that individuals like. So, the search engines will tend to rank content with high marks in Influence higher and higher in organic search.
Content Integration — Summary
Content Integration is all about focusing on content creation from a holistic perspective — content clusters and the Content Distribution Ecosystem model.
In order to be successful in SEM (Search Engine Marketing) today, content must be integrated using SEO and Digital PR methods for optimizing the creation and distribution of content campaigns that have an impact, while increasing rankings in organic search over time.