You walk into the conference room for a marketing brainstorm and see a new face at the table. Your director informs the group the CEO has hired an SEO consultant to evaluate the website, blog, video and resource content, and advertisement rankings to see what can be improved. So she’s invited the consultant to sit in on your monthly topic planning brainstorm.
You’re either in one of two places right now — thoroughly familiar with this scenario, potentially cringing recalling these brainstorm sessions with SEO and Content. Or, you’re having quite a bit of trouble imagining this as SEO and Content do not cross paths in the brainstorming process for your marketing team.
You’ve come prepared with five ideas you’re sure are going to be a big hit on your tech companies blog.
“I met with the customer success team last week digging into some of the pain points they’re discussing with current customers” you start explaining.
“One of the biggest concerns is around the impending skills gap for cybersecurity roles. So let’s lead in with a series on ‘how to solve the cybersecurity talent shortage internally.’”
You barely have the working idea out and the SEO consultant is edging forward in their seat. You nod their way to start your relationship on a positive note and let them share some immediate input.
“I thought we could focus on the phrase ‘tech talent shortage.’”
OK… so no discussion of the idea you just shared? The research you conducted, learning your customer’s pain points?
You are now just ‘Content.’ As Content, you want quality, well, content that will engage, motivate, and empower the reader into action.
SEO, on the other hand, wants content that ranks highlight in the search engines and is clicked on again and again.
The goals may seem to differ, but you two can’t function in a silo… at least not if you want to reach optimal success. Here’s why.
Content needs to be what readers want and need
“Thanks, we’ve been looking to identify specific positions that our readers are finding the most issue with on their teams,” you respond. “Do you have something specific that you saw a gap in the current content that is of high opportunity?”
“It’s a phrase that came up in my research that we don’t currently rank. But carry on…” SEO shrugs.
A strong content marketing specialist is going to identify the gaps and pain points of readers both proactively and reactively. Keeping in close contact with the sales and support teams, you’re setting up a content strategy that focuses on what your users want and need.
However, don’t be too quick to write SEO out of that equation. That’s where SEO can take the content to the next level.
As soon as a topic crosses your mind, you need to tap into SEO. Conducting the research on what variations of phrases are being searched, any times of year that the search volume increases for X phrase, digging into what content you have on X phrase that is currently ranking — this knowledge will help you not only see what your current users want and need but also opens up avenues to what potential new customers want and need.
On the contrary, if you start only with a phrase that you don’t rank for, you might very well be targeting a phrase that your potential users don’t care to know more on. You can argue all day on why they need to care — and SEO can argue why as a company you need to rank for it. But the effort is lost without it being something your readers can identify with.
Content needs to be found
Your director chimes in and prompts you to look into ideas on that phrase specifically and to get back to the team later that day.
Back at your cube you conduct the necessary keyword research and find the phrase ‘tech talent shortage’ has a search volume of 30 per month.
You run the search volume of ‘cybersecurity talent shortage,’ and it has 110 searches per month.
Neither volume is earth-shattering, but at least with your idea, you know your users want to read the story and isn’t that the most important thing?
When it comes to the best SEO practices, there are a few different approaches. While you know your users want to know about the cybersecurity talent shortage, the search volume isn’t overly impressive. Some view this however as low hanging fruit.
By digging into the SEO research a bit further, you can identify the opportunity (competition) to rank for the key phrase. If it’s an easy phrase to rank for, and your article is a quality piece of content with a clear call to action, you could easily, in theory, convert 110 people that search each month into your pipeline. 110 new leads from one piece of content a month, isn’t too shabby.
But then again, for some, neither is 30. And if the time spent to create each piece of content is determined to be worth the effort. You could have two pieces that cross-promote each other and are up to 140 potential leads a month.
Without SEO though, your content won’t be found. You ‘know’ it is a valuable topic, but SEO knows what exactly you need to do to be found.
Think of it as the age-old ‘if a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it?’ If the perfect piece of content is on the web, but without SEO, will anyone read it?
Quality content gets read and shared
“Hi, team,” you write, ready to share your research and make your case for the ideas you had prior to the morning’s meeting.
But before you can type any more, your notifications light up. It’s SEO. He’s just sent a team-wide email.
“Hey all, here’s the SEO keyword research I conducted. We need to focus on the five main categories. I pulled some recommended longtail phrases you can use for your content this month. Look forward to working with you all. – SEO”
You take a deep breath and start skimming the phrases to see if any of the longtail phrases can be used.
How to get a job in retail.
What technology degree can you get from prison
Technology and toddlers.
Content loves telling a good story, tying that story into your target audience and reaching them on a personal level. If only your target audience had anything to do with retail, prison, or toddlers. You know you could create some stellar quality content. But…
Content can be search engine optimized all day. But if it’s not offering quality information that’s catered to your readers, it is going to have a high drop-off rate, it’s not going to get shared, and it surely isn’t going to result in a lead (or at least not the leads you want).
That’s where SEO needs Content to keep a reality check on what actually ties to the key messaging you want your company to be known for.
SEO and Content have to work together in harmony to achieve the greatest success. In the coming weeks, we’ll dig into ‘how,’ and the good and bad of their dysfunctional relationship. In the meantime, check out the video below, while SEO and Content attempt to sort their differences out in couples therapy.