Content Marketing with Less SEO

  •   Miki Pacifico

By Miki Pacifico

You don't need to over-optimize, just write what you know.

There really is something to be said about quality content being written to help with your SEO efforts. It has been said so many times that sometimes I feel like a talking parrot, but perhaps the problem lies in my face. Maybe it's the kind of face that people just don’t take seriously enough. Like, “aw, that little girl is talking again - I don’t have a clue what she is saying but isn’t it adorable that she speaks?” Being 5’ tall has some major drawbacks.

Let me make my point again - You should be writing amazing content. Interesting and thought-provoking content that withstands the test of time. Spreading your expertise through the written word brings exponential traffic to your site and I have these handy-dandy graphs to prove it. 

Take, for example, this blog post Doug and I put together on Luxury Hotel Marketing

Luxury Hotel Marketing

This was originally intended to be a sort of landing page for a direct mail campaign we were putting together targeting potential ledes in the luxury hotel and resort space. You can see from the Source/Medium column under “direct” how many visits we received from it. 

You can also see that over the next 25 weeks, organic traffic gradually grew and grew. What you should know about this blog post is that we did not touch a single word or snippet of code from its publication to today. This post is simply building value and organic keyword traffic over time. No sneaky SEO tricks up our sleeves, just well-written and thoughtful content with a good amount of research backing it up. 

Another stellar example, pulled from the dusty halls of our Google Analytics account, is this review of Macaw, written by our very own Josiah.  

Macaw Review

Bird puns aside, this is a complex post about a topic that my non-developer brain can’t seem to process. But to someone who has been considering using Macaw as a tool in their front-end development, it may be fascinating. And from all data-driven accounts, it certainly is. 

Now, Macaw was a Kickstarter-funded project and was released officially to the public in March 2014. The window for reviewing a new product or service tends to be small, but with an industry as saturated with tools as development tends to be, that might be a wider window than you think. 

What this means for SEO is that exponential traffic growth may also have a time limit. You can see traffic start to taper off in November 2014, though it has picked up again this month. Do I expect traffic to come to this page forever? Definitely not. But his topic is timely, his information is thoroughly researched, and his opinion is respected.

“Macaw Review” is not a keyword that we actively track normally because it doesn’t provide much business value to us as an agency. We don’t sell reviews to major software products, so there’s really no reason to focus on it. What this blog post does do is establishes our place in the development sphere as a respected and valid service provider who knows their stuff. 

Just out of curiosity though, I did toss that page up into the On-Page Grader in Moz. You know, for giggles (hush, being a data nerd is a lonely life).

Moz Page Grader

As you can see,  from a strictly “SEO Optimized” view, this page has not been optimized for “macaw review”. It was included in the page title (because the original blog post title was too long to fit), and was not used in the meta description (though the variant “review of macaw” was used). At no point in the body of this post did Josiah identify it as a “macaw review” because that’s simply not how a normal person writes. 

What does this grade tell me? That writing good content that will bring in organic traffic is about getting a valid and interesting point across and writing it conversationally, not just stuffing it full of keywords. 

Full disclosure, I review all blog posts before they go live, but because I didn’t understand most of what Josiah was talking about I simply reviewed this post for glaringly obvious grammatical and spelling errors and called it good. It received none of the standard “is this content written with SEO in mind?” oversight that some posts receive. 

Another disclosure, I write a weekly news post about technology, marketing and business. I put them out and share them socially every week and they collectively have brought in less organic traffic than Josiah’s one review post. My theory is that news is a narrow window. The time someone is interested in that particular snippet of information is extremely short-lived, therefore of much less organic/SEO value than something more opinion based. 

What should you take away from this? Put thoughtfulness out there. Write content that is interesting to others because it is interesting to you and really dig into it. Research the heck out of it. Don’t fall into the “10 Things You Need To Know About” trap. Do your due diligence and at least do the basic SEO optimizations, but your priority should be placed on whether or not your content adds value based on the information it contains. In the end you are more likely to receive payoffs in the form of traffic and authority and heck, maybe a lede or two. 


Header photo by Roland Tanglao