Many businesses have developed a debilitating fetish. Search engine optimization has made content optimization king. This has curtailed these businesses promoting their values. Now, SEO keywords are integral parts of any content strategy. But we often overblow both the power of SEO, and our fears that interested audiences would not bother to find meaningful content.
The websites with the highest bounce rates are those that are packed with keywords and over-the-top SEO optimization. We can spot them from ‘www.bestsomething.com’-style URLs. They try desperately to up their search engine rankings in the hope of boosting sales. Only their owners know how successful (or not) they are in selling. But everyone knows that they do not promote values. Content spinning software is king in creating them. It generates masses of otherwise useless fodder for Google and Bing. Bots index it, rank it, and spew it out to searchers.
Misleading Content Strategies
When creating content about our brand values and the benefits it offers, we naturally incorporate keywords that make sense to our narrow target audience. But we also build long standing relationships with broader circles. Their members might become our prospects in future. They might also promote us voluntarily to their contacts at some point.
Imagine we are mobile device sellers. The news of exploding smartphone batteries suddenly spreads. We may be tempted to run a story using trending keywords on our corporate blog, hoping it would make top search rankings. Sadly for us, all our competitors are likely to do exactly the same. Not to mention all news agencies and media outlets. In the end, all we are likely to achieve for racking our brains is to produce content of no value to our customers. After all, how likely is our blog to overcome established and authoritative news sources?
Approach Wisely Any Topic
What should have been our approach to content in these circumstances? Be honest and frank despite any possible harm to sales of the exploding-battery product we are selling as distributor. First, explain to customers how to guard against battery fires. Second, explain how and where they may replace their devices. Finally, explain what help we can offer them.
This promotes all the brand values that matter: care for customers, timely response, and corporate fairness. It would not rank us any higher with search engines. But it would rank us a notch higher with people. They will note that we give valuable advice and might spend more with us.
Many manufacturers, merchants, and service providers keep repeating the error of attempting to compete with news outlets. Such efforts are doomed at the outset. Whatever SEO and keyword optimization techniques we use, respectable news media is respectable news media. There again, respectable news media usually does not stoop to providing detailed advice on subjects on which we are the experts. So let us take advantage of our corporate and business expertise! Let us create meaningful content and use is as a vehicle for promoting our brand values. Focusing too much on product promotion can be akin to puppies chasing their tails.
Add Value, Not Keywords
Real life provides another fascinating example of the difference between machines and people. The 2016 Brazil Summer Olympics saw global news media harness artificial intelligence for the first time. Bots produced news stories and photos for instant online publication. (We shall come back to this important topic in future posts.)
The bots’ output was SEOed by algorithmically selected keywords. One cannot hope to rank any higher in sports event search engine results, even if one were Nike or Adidas. But it is bots we are discussing! Bots cannot outrank people when it comes to crafting engaging and meaningful content to enhance a topic. Bots are blind to the joys of handling a product, so they cannot describe them. Bots do not lust after the shape or look of other bots. Bots are unaware of values beyond any primitive simulated ones that might (one day!) make it into their hardware or software.
SEO and keywords are like bots. They are programming tools telling a machine what is inside a piece of content. We need them in today’s online world. But the information avalanche we are witnessing is transforming our online readers. They are becoming ever more sophisticated and demanding. They hand pick the content they consider useful, on their terms – not bots’ terms. That is why our content strategy should stress values and benefits, not sales keywords. At the end of the day SEO and keywords are only tools. They should never be elevated to being a goal.
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