It makes sense at times to produce content without worrying too much about the SEO aspects. (Please know it isn’t easy for me, an SEO professional, to write that.)
Some SEO purists suggest that website content be optimized at all times. It’s inevitable that someone – or a team – will follow an internal process and think about the content with an everything-SEO mentality.
But there are situations when you don’t need to sweat SEO – or can at least scale back the effort. Here are five occasions to consider.
1. You’re writing about a new trend
B2B and B2C brands sometimes want to be out front with a new industry phrase – long before it’s widely used. The phrase may not even have any or much detectable search volume.
Businesses should write about emerging trends to underscore their expertise and vision and SEO may not be top of mind when shaping the content. You’ll be rewarded later on search engines for having a content-first approach. As your article ages and attracts inbound links and interest, you’ll be in a good position to rank well as the keyword phrase gains momentum.
At some point, for example, someone wrote about “influencer marketing.” The Google Trends index shows how the phrase grew in popularity over three years.
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2. Few people search for the keyword phrase
Many low-volume search terms involve long-tail keyword phrases. It’s still useful to target them if they have the potential to generate high rankings and leads, particularly for B2B companies with long sales cycles. But these low-volume search phrases are not always relevant or likely to convert.
3. The desired keywords are too competitive
You may want to rank on the first page for “CRM tool,” which is searched an estimated 2,900 times a month, according to Google. But, typically, your site ranks on the first page of Google for keywords searched 300 to 500 times a month. Are you really going to build your SEO page strategy around the popular phrase “CRM tool”?
If a keyword phrase is beyond your reach, accept your competitive position and weigh alternative keyword phrases. Here are some questions to consider when selecting a different phrase:
- Will the keyword phrase work in the headline?
- Is the optional phrase worth pursuing for the time available to publish this content?
- Will the search volume be high enough?
- Will the keyword phrases be relevant?
- Do you have the rest of your SEO act together?
- What are the odds that the optional phrase in your content will rank?
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4. Visitors arrive from various sources
SEO doesn’t need to be the top dog in your content. Your website content should engage and satisfy people when they arrive through:
- Website navigation that highlights the content
- E-mail marketing
- Social media
- Shared links
- Media relations
- Paid media
Who cares about keywords for which you can’t rank well or phrases that people hardly use if most of your site traffic doesn’t come from search (and you’re OK with that)? Analyze where your overall traffic comes from and identify key performance indicators targeting your ideal mix of channels to drive traffic.
Bayer may have been considering this when it ignored SEO in its impressive article on “citrus greening” and other content. Even though the phrase incurs nearly 3,000 monthly searches on Google, Bayer is nowhere in sight in the rankings.
The title, Keeping the Juice on the Table, clearly demonstrates that SEO isn’t a goal. The article details the issue of citrus greening and includes quality video and photos.
Imagine the power AT&T has to market its content, including this business article: 4 Ways to Delight Your Smartphone-Happy Customers. Sure, this piece ranks No. 1 on Google for “delight smartphone customers,” but that keyword phrase isn’t searched frequently. The content, though, is still useful with current data and practical tips for business professionals who discover the content through non-search ways.
Syngenta has a good article called Mission Possible about grain bins. No, it’s not an SEO priority (it shows no real effort to rank for “grain bin safety,” which averages at least 90 monthly searches on Google). But that’s OK. It still provides value and can be found, particularly through Syngenta’s internal site search.
5. You already hold a top spot
What if you’re No. 1 or 2 on Google? If you basically own a keyword phrase, you probably don’t need to put your new content through the numerous ranking SEO steps to score well for that phrase.
Walmart ranks first for many keyword phrases (I found hundreds in a search with the robust SEMrush tool). I hope members of the retailer’s marketing team realize when they control the top spots, such as “55 inch TV” that’s searched an estimated 40,500 times a month on Google. That way they can target new keyword phrases with their new content.
It’s always a good idea to be mindful of SEO, but you also need to decide when to make the time for it. Weigh SEO with other content goals and your ability to attract the relevant visitors from multiple sources.
How do you approach SEO? When do you ignore it or not make as much of a fuss about it?
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute