- 30-second summary: The typical guidance around merely enhancing on the content already ranking at the top of the SERP is fundamentally flawed.
- SEOs often restrict their content possibilities by thinking of SEO material from purely acquisitional point of view.
- Considering content from a branding viewpoint causes differentiation and lines up with Google’s focus on topical competence and authority.
- Emerging AI writing technology might not be symmetrical with Google’s evolving algorithm.
I have a bone to choose with the method our industry thinks of material. In general, I believe we frequently do not value what great material really is. Nor do I think we consider what should go into developing great material. Here, in particular, I wish to challenge the notion that all content is “acquisition” content.
I do not just suggest landing pages, but blog posts too. That’s right, not all content needs to be produced with the goal of getting more conversions or perhaps more traffic to your website.
Does that sound extravagant? Maybe. By the time you complete reading this, you may concur with me. (Although let’s be truthful, you most likely won’t).
SEO from a branding perspective
I frequently consider SEO from a branding point of view. I know, you’re most likely thinking, “Well, that’s an insane declaration right there!”. Over-the-top as it may sound, thinking about SEO in terms of branding will greatly affect how you see “SEO material”. Why? Due to the fact that in regards to state of mind, material production and branding are very similar.
Let’s substitute “your brand name” with “your site” because your website is your brand to both users and search engines.
Think of your website as your brand name. Just like you consider your brand name’s identity and perception– that’s how you need to consider your site since that’s how it’s seen by Google.
We, as SEOs, may describe this as your website’s “trust” and “authority.” When you break those principles down basically, what you’re really discussing is how your website is being perceived based upon what it’s implied to be doing (that is, its identity).
To put it simply, what would the fundamental issue be with a site that used cancer treatment guidance while peddling payday loans? It would be the perception that the health suggestions is, at best, “polluted”. Even if the site wasn’t “seedy” and provided cancer treatment advice along with investment guidance, there would be an extreme absence of identity.
In numerous fundamental ways, things like E-A-T and brand identity (and subsequently, perception) are the very same thing.
So let’s ask, if you wanted your brand name to be perceived as trustworthy and reliable how would you set about writing your content? What would your material look and sound like?
That sort of content would need to be substantial, detailed and nuanced. Most significantly, it would need to be unique. Having brand name identity that is obtained from another brand is totally antithetical to having your own brand identity. This would use to everything from an extensive post to a product image or description. Brand identity and differentiation go hand in hand. Distinction and subtlety go hand in hand. Do you see where I’m going here?
Does your “SEO content” seem like this? Are we hyper-focused on differentiation?
Rather the opposite. A lot of the basic advice you hear about writing “good SEO material” has to do with replicating what the top-ranking sites are doing currently.
The typical “content for SEO” is irksome
The normal guidance about creating “SEO content” contradicts content that has a distinct identity and brand worth. Namely, it typically calls on folks to see what’s ranking on the top of the SERP and make sure the subjects that the top-ranking sites cover make their way to your material as well. Distinction is damned.
Worse, this recommendations is often directed to brand-new SEOs and it’s presented without a tip that there’s more to the story here.
Obviously, surveying the top-level pages and taking some concepts away is a fine thing to do. However, it does not produce distinct value. Skyscraper material, as it’s frequently called, does not help you distinguish your content in any substantial way.
For those of you who stick to the idea of merely improving upon what presently ranks let me ask you, would you take the exact same approach with your brand?
Would you enjoy with a brand name identity that was merely a take on another brand name’s identity? That type of feels a bit inexpensive and it isn’t a really effective branding technique.
Why is your content any various?
Is regurgitating what’s currently out there going to help your material stand out or be unforgettable? (The answer is no in case you were really questioning)
By the way, there is a fundamental defect in this method. Namely, it rests on the presumption that what exists currently is the best that it can perhaps be. However, isn’t it entirely possible that Google would choose content that took the topic from an absolutely different angle? Isn’t it possible that the material already ranking isn’t the best, but is simply the best Google has at the moment? What if you were to take a new approach or present new pertinent subtopics that other pages don’t? Isn’t there a chance that you would rank and not those other pages?
However, if you only take a look at content that’s already ranking, you will not consider the content that individuals really require and want, that does not exist yet. That’s potentially a big chance that you ‘d be losing out on.
So, why is this tolerated? Why do we spread out the concept that all it takes is a wee bit of keyword research and some surveying of the ranking sites?
I think it boils down to frame of mind. We normally consider content as acquisitional and that’s a bit problematic.
The issue with thinking about content as purely acquisitional
When you think of material as being purely acquisitional, you end up being blinded by the drug that is acquisition. When your sole objective is acquisition you’re not thinking about things like:
- What’s really great for the user?
- How do I separate my material?
- What does my material say about my brand name?
The concept of content being acquisitional is not intrinsically bothersome. Content ought to bring in brand-new users, it needs to create traffic, it ought to result in sales … however it must likewise do more.
Content needs to assist provide identity to your site. It needs to create relationships with users. It should lend an air of authority and expertise to your site. (We’re right back at the whole E-A-T thing again because branding and E-A-T are two peas in a pod)
However, we do not live in a world of identity, relationships, and authority. Our world consists of clicks, traffic, conversions, sales, and so forth. In turn, we distort material, which in this author’s viewpoint is not fundamentally about acquisition, into just having to do with acquisition.
It’s not difficult to see how a mindset that revolves around seeing what already works and replicating it came to dominate our market. Things like identity and customer trust, well those are “marketing” principles. What do they relate to SEO? SEO has to do with traffic. Let’s create material that brings in that traffic, no?
Other than, I would argue, SEO is not that at all. Online search engine are looking at who your site is and what it claims to be (and if the content you have aligns with that). They are judging your knowledge and authority. They wish to match the user with handy content that lines up to query intent.
Search engines do not care about your traffic and conversions. They care about users, much the manner in which a more ‘brand-centric’ outlook on SEO would care about how a user views a website.
What should content be created for if not the acquisition of more sales or traffic?
So if you’re not composing content for acquisition then who and what are you composing content for? I do not understand, how about your audience or potential audience? (I’m referring to creating material for the user, so cliche, I understand.)
There are numerous beginning points when thinking about content that serves users. One of which is considering yourself and your site and how the content you develop represents you. Since when you do, you sure are not going to want to put out anything that provides you the wrong method.
I do not want to enter the whole “is keyword research study dead” argument (it’s dead, it’s not actually an argument). Do what you want with your keywords. I don’t care about your keywords, I care about your material.
Your content is you. The material you have on your website is who you are to the users who visit your site. Your content is branding. There isn’t a way around that. While you’ve been focused on scraping every topic and subtopic you can from your competitors, your users (can we call them readers?) are asking why your material feels and looks like every other piece of material they’ve encountered. Congratulations.
(By the method, I personally think online search engine are probably stating the exact same thing. That is, what is the genuine worth in ranking this page over what’s already there, if basically, they are the very same?)
Traffic and development and conversions or nevertheless you wish to frame this is not a direct formula. Driving more traffic or getting more conversions is a complex and messy endeavor. You can’t just consider what is instantly in front of you. How users feel about your site and view your brand with time is a vital part of the equation. The content your readers take in, whether it be an item description or a blog post, define you and your brand. That can figure out if they go back to your website, suggest your website, link to your website, mention your site, etc.
Is this not part of SEO? Because if it is, that just occurs when you do things like considering material from a “understanding” or “branding” (or whatever you wish to call it) viewpoint.
Furthermore, thinking about your material and your site in general from a brand authority perspective naturally hones your topical focus. It forces you to develop significant material that reflects well on who you are. And as I mentioned earlier, that topical focus provides your website identity to both users (in the form of brand identity) and to online search engine (in the form of, “hello, this website adequately tackles this topic over numerous posts, let’s rank them for this subject across the board”).
But this just takes place if you go back from the acquisition mindset and think about your content from a larger and less strictly “traditional SEO” point of view. This only occurs when you compose content that’s differentiated, that focuses on quality, which isn’t about making certain you cover specific topics for the sake of covering a specific topic.
What I am trying to say is that content is naturally closer to branding than it is to SEO (at least SEO as a number of us know it). If you do not take a look at your material from a branding/perception perspective you are fundamentally missing out on what material is.
That, in turn, means creating strong and quality material will be an uphill struggle for you. And that indicates that ranking long term is likewise going to be an uphill struggle for you, as Google continues to improve how it comprehends language and how it profiles sites.
Succinctly, rather of asking “how will this content get me more traffic?”, ask yourself, ‘”How will this material make me aim to my users?”. That will put you on the path to composing unique, practical content.
GPT-3, it’s a trap!
I might end the piece here, however I have one more “concern” that requires to be addressed. AI authors.
Do I believe AI writers, particularly GPT-3 will be good at composing an item description? Yes, I do. I think AI authors will eventually do a fantastic job with something like an item description.
Do I think AI authors, particularly GPT-3, will be good at composing something entitled, “A Speculative Critique of Relativity from a Quantum Physics Perspective”? Absolutely not. Do you?
As this field quickly develops I want to issue a warning: do not fall under the trap. Don’t believe that you can get away with utilizing something like GPT-3 to write a deeply nuanced and differentiated post or blog post.
Yes, I do think individuals will attempt to do simply that. Why? Since of the same acquisition mindset, I grumbled about earlier. When it comes to more considerable material, an AI author simply can’t provide the subtlety and quality that you require to make a difference.
As I see it the risk is that it’s easy to get captured up in emerging technology and go all-in on it. Simply remember, Google is likewise an emerging technology, and a great deal of what it’s performing in the algorithm stands in contradiction to the full-on adoption of AI written content.
While the development of AI writers might make it simpler to develop material, you might be developing the extremely content that Google does not desire. And while something like GPT-3 would, all things being equal, work well on a landing page, the material it produces for a subject your blog deals with may need more subtlety and depth.
Of course, all of this depends upon believing there is a world of material beyond acquisition fluff. (If you love fluff, go ahead GPT-3 yourself to death.)
Feel the perception pressure
How do users perceive your site? How do they feel about you after checking out the content on your site or interacting with your website? Thinking about your website’s perception can be a pathway to developing material that is substantial and ultimately effective (and I indicate from an SEO point of view).
When we get so caught up in linear metrics that we do not even feel that pressure, the problem is. When SEO content production ends up being a hustle to outrank whatever is currently at the top of the SERP it compromises point of view. That perspective can be the difference between being another piece of the exact same ol’ content versus being something both users and online search engine worth.
End the hustle.
Mordy Oberstein is Liaison to the SEO Community at Wix.