Complement Content with SEO — Don't Sacrifice It

Image via  Pixabay

Image via Pixabay

This post was written by Brian Kavanaugh, lead content strategist for Upword Search Marketing. Follow him on Twitter, @btkav

Creating content for SEO is, at its core, about creating something the user will remember, whether a brand, an idea or a website. If that happens, Google will do the same.

There’s plenty for marketers to remember — and just as much to forget — when generating content ideas with a specific mind for SEO. At UpWord, here’s what we try on a daily basis to commit to memory, and also what we throw away.

Forget the Robots

Forget the idea of creating to curry favor with a Web crawler. Search Engine Land Founder Danny Sullivan says it would be completely misguided to think, “I’m going to somehow reverse engineer the algorithm” and rank well. Search engines “are consistently trying to figure out what human beings like.” The same should be said, then, of marketers. In fact, "creating content for SEO" may even be a little redundant in 2015, as any good content will invariably perform well in search.


Users go to CNN or ESPN because they want content from CNN or ESPN. Users go to Google because they have a problem or question, and are in search of its solution or answer. We have seen success with content that solves a general problem with a specific solution. 

For example, a client in the home improvement industry published a blog on “How to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home," and saw organic traffic soar. We realized that every homeowner — or at least every attentive homeowner  is curious about this subject. Not every homeowner would need this particular method of prevention suggested by the blog, but that was OK.

If they’re curious, they’re going to read. Those interested will become a part of “the journey” and are our qualified leads. Those uninterested will drop off, but hopefully learned a thing or two and will trust the brand if they stumble upon it again while researching a new topic.


As lead content strategist and sometimes-copywriter, I tend to think mostly of what the angle might be on a piece, and how it might sound. Other team members, however, offer ideas on data, or graphic elements or different facets of search. Collaboration allows each person to offer up something valuable with great depth. The alternative would be one person tasked with doing everything — and we have all been there. But in that case, the process could become diluted or homogenized. 

Beyond marketing, members of the customer service or sales teams know better than anyone what users want to see, and what questions and frustrations customers have that could be addressed via content. Simply asking around could have major payoff. 

For that type of collaboration, we use a content marketing platform called Ripenn. It was conceived and developed by our Innovation Director Josh Sturgeon, and brings the entire team into an environment that encourages ideation, offers suggestions and eventually transitions ideas into fully scheduled posts on the calendar. 

MIT has found that conversations outside of formal meetings are incredibly important in determining a team’s success. Ripenn is where a lot of those conversations take place, and it’s our constant reminder to never go it alone. 


All else being equal, a piece viewed repeatedly by the same user will perform better in search engines than a piece that is digested once and never viewed again. That may be obvious, but it’s an important distinction to make at the idea stage, because certain content lends itself better to recurring visits; think how-to content, recipes, troubleshooting and interactive tools.

We live in an era where my friends  in their mid-20s  YouTube “how to tie a tie” before every wedding. There’s no reason why a clothing retailer can’t show up in those results with a quality video and reap the branding benefits every time. 

Another way to entice repeat visits to a site is to establish a series and create expectation. The added benefit of serial content is that, usually, once enough editions are published, you have enough there to re-purpose parts of each into a longer-form downloadable piece. 

Lastly, be sure to remember: Search engines won’t forget your content if the users don’t.