Beauty and the Geek: The B2B Content Marketing Dilemma

Content marketers want to create fantastic content. Search engine optimisation wizards want to rank for targeted keywords. They clash. A lot. But in a B2B environment, the content marketer must become the SEO wizard.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation is an art. Hundreds of people work tirelessly, aiming to nab the top spot in the search engine ranking pages.

SEO is the process of optimising aspects of a website to give it the best chance of ranking in the SERP’s. It involves content. But it also involves technical aspects of web design, HTML, CSS and a ton of off-page stuff.

Businesses need a strong SEO strategy. It is an effective way of generating leads. Your future customers, the ones searching for a product like yours, will find your website if it ranks on the first page of Google.

Generating organic traffic is a cost-effective way to generate new business. Although the job of an SEO expert is never finished, the technical work that they do can reap its rewards. You should consider SEO a vital part of marketing as well as a significant boost to sales.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing involves the creation and distribution of online material. Many people jump to blogging and social media but more recently, we have seen businesses creating podcasts, webinars, whitepapers and a host of materials.

This content should never directly promote a brand. It’s not a form of advertising. What it should do is stimulate an interest in a product or service. 

A content marketer’s aim is to provide useful, informative, engaging content to an audience. Not sell products. The content they create should add value, helping the business build relationships with their customers. In doing so, they build a loyal fan base or returning custom and pitch themselves as an authoritative voice within their industry.   

Content Marketing vs. SEO

The difference between a content marketer and an SEO executive is the audience they target. And it is a problem that has caused many arguments within marketing teams. 

SEO executives look at rankings. They want landing pages to hit the first page of Google for the keywords that their leads are targeting. Everything that they do is for the search engine bots, known as spiders, benefit. They produce web pages and content for a robot.

On the other hand, content marketers want a human audience to love their content. They write articles or record podcasts that they believe their audience will love. They spend hours researching their topics to ensure that their work is both useful and engaging.

Content marketers do not create content for a robot. SEO’s don’t see the point in creating content unless it ranks. Do you see the dilemma?

Who’s Right?

Technically, they both are. One of the main key performance indicators for an SEO team is organic traffic. How many more people are coming to the website through the search engine ranking pages alone? 

This organic traffic converts into genuine leads, which will help a business obtain new customers.

A KPI for content marketing is a bit different because they are looking at new and existing customers. They might monitor time spent on page, returning visitors, social media engagement or a number of other things. 

A content marketer does not care about optimising every element of their work. Yes, they’d love to rank. But in most cases, they won’t be happy to jeopardise their work in the hope of generating more organic traffic.

SEO executives approach the work with a different perspective. They believe that the purpose of the content is to bring in an audience and the best way to do that is to ensure it ranks.

Search Engine Optimised Content

And then the arguments break out. 

SEO executives start poking around, adding subheadings and cutting paragraphs in half. They rework the heading to ensure that the keyword dominates the title. They strip all of the links only to replace them with high authority sources and internal product pages.

As you can imagine, this kind of mutilation does not go down well with the person who has spent hours researching and creating the content. I feel your pain. I create content for Quadrant2Design and have often felt the wrath of the SEO team. 

Before I understood SEO, it felt like I was watching all of my hard work and research being stripped from everything I wrote. It turns out as a B2B content marketer I had it all wrong.

I have never disagreed with search engine optimisation. I know how important it is. But it wasn’t until I became a B2B content marketer that I realised just how significant SEO was when it comes to content creation.

The Core Difference between a B2B Audience and a B2C Audience

As a content writer, I create content and publish it. Then I distribute it to an audience that will find it useful. So a typical day is create, publish, distribute. And then repeat.

Yes, of course there is more to it than that. But that’s all you need to know to understand why B2B content marketing is different from B2C content marketing.

The creation step is the same, regardless of whether you are writing for a B2C or B2B audience. You choose a topic that your audience is curious about. Research the available content on that subject. And create something better.

The publication is typically the same as well. You publish your article on your company’s blog or wherever your content lives. Videos may be uploaded to YouTube, images may go onto Instagram, and press releases may go out to the local press. You get the point.

When we start looking at distribution, everything changes.

Distributing Content to a B2C Audience

On three, let’s all say the platform that we immediately jump to for content distribution.




Social media.

Social media is a fantastic content distribution platform. Firstly, you already have access to an audience. Your connections have invested interest in your business. They’ll probably have an interest in your content.

Secondly, it’s free. You probably already have social media accounts for your business. More than likely you’re already using them to engage with your audience. Now you have more content to share. More things to talk about. And more reasons for your audience to engage with you.

 Of course, there is always the sponsored post option. It’s a low-cost strategy to boost your impressions. You can target a niche audience to maximise engagement and grow your followers.

The best part is everyone is on social media. We’re all on our phones pretty much constantly. Endlessly scrolling through Instagram has become the new evening activity. With access to such a large audience, it makes sense to distribute content via your social media accounts. 

Unless you have created your content for a B2B audience…

Distributing Content to a B2B Audience

B2B stands for business to business. In my company, we design exhibition stands for companies who are exhibiting at a trade show. We deal directly with business owners, marketing managers or business development specialists. These are the people who read the content I produce; therefore, I am a B2B content marketer.

I write exhibiting guides that help people establish their budget, design concept or trade show strategy. This is the type of content that somebody interested in purchasing or hiring an exhibition stand would want to read. 

But how do I distribute that?

A business audience isn’t on social media during the day. Or they shouldn’t be. And I’m pretty sure they aren’t searching Facebook for a guide to exhibition stand flooring on their evenings and weekends.

Social media is a write-off. 

My content is useful for exhibitors. The audience does spend time reading it. But the audience aren’t people who have stumbled upon these guides by chance. These are people who are actively seeking information. They have searched for the information my content provides. 

For this reason, B2B content marketers have to take SEO into account. It is the only way to reach the right audience. 

Solving the B2B Content Marketing Dilemma

Now you understand the B2B content marketing dilemma. SEO executives want things to be perfect for an audience of robots who decide how to index and rank a page. Content marketers want their living, breathing audience to interact and engage with their content. 

But without the SEO element, a B2B audience might never discover the content in the first place. They don’t spend their working day on social media. They are very unlikely to be interested in B2B content outside of work. And they directly search for the information they need.

To be a successful B2B content marketer, you have to implement SEO into everything you create. Consider it as a distribution method. It is possible to create useful, engaging content that is well optimised and ranks in the SERP’s. Trust me. I’ve done it.