If you’re writing for SEO, pause for a minute. Here’s why SEO shouldn’t be your sole focus.
‘I want to appear on Google’s page 1’, said almost everyone ever. The incentive is obvious. The top organic result in Google is a land grab – gaining 30% of all traffic to that search term, the second spot, just 15%. No matter what business you’re in, gaining the lion’s share of traffic to your website is appealing. So why might I suggest you shouldn’t strive for the top?
Well, there are a few reasons. I’ll start with…
Effort vs reward
If you’re a small business in a non-niche area, you are unlikely to reach the top ranking on the page 1. In fact, you’re unlikely to reach the first page at all. Why? Because competition is fierce, there may be thousands of businesses just like yours all vying for the same spot on the same search terms.
In some cases, Google’s first page has as few as 5 organic results, the rest taken up by paid advertising. There’s definitely not enough space for every hairdresser in town. You can invest a lot of money and time in SEO content only to lose out to Scissor Sisters next door.
I mentioned ‘non-niche’, because if you’re the only purveyor of handmade mini scarves for garden gnomes in the world, or one of a handful, then you may be on to an easy win. It’s about understanding the art of the possible.
Of course you can find a niche in the SEO mix if you provide a broader service or product, but is the pay off going to be worth the effort? The answer to that question is worth considering.
SEO is not as simple as [insert keyword here]
Back in the day writing for SEO was about adding keywords in all the right places. Nowadays you get penalised for too many instances of the same keywords. You’re encouraged to use a spread of related terms (one of the reasons that content marketing performs a natural SEO return). You’ve got to finely-tune your SEO engine across a plethora of criteria.
Even then, you could write the Rolls Royce of SEO copy, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to park itself on page 1. It won’t even get out of the showroom without a solid website build, ongoing content strategy and linking structure. Read our basic guide on copywriting for SEO to understand more about what goes into writing for SEO.
Additionally, Google is very focused on localised results and it has kindly provided the means to ensure you can achieve visibility in the local market for your services through Google My Business. Spending a little bit of time perfecting your GMB results may prove to be a better return on investment.
SEO doesn’t trump user experience
It’s important to get people to your website, of course, but what happens when they arrive there is all the more important. User experience matters.
- If they don’t like what they see when they get to your website, you’ve lost them.
- If they can’t navigate to what they need on your website, you’ve lost them.
- If your website isn’t legible or accessible, you’ve lost them.
- If the language doesn’t speak to them (because it’s trying too hard to speak to Google) you’ve lost them.
Spending your hard-earned cash to make your website Google-friendly and actually reaching the top spot for your chosen key terms is great. But if your website doesn’t deliver what your audience needs – guess what? – You’ve lost them.
Hang on, I thought you liked SEO?
So why, oh why am I telling you all of this – after all, isn’t SEO copywriting part of what I do. Yes. And it can be extremely valuable when used wisely. But my point is not to focus ENTIRELY on copywriting for SEO. It’s only a part of the mix, and every mix is unique depending on your business and objectives.
When someone tells me they want to appear on Google’s number 1 slot, I start with a bunch of questions that help me to consider whether that’s the best port of call. These include:
- What do you want to achieve with your website?
- Who are your target audience and what do they want to achieve?
- How do your audience currently find you?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What are your analytics telling you about your incoming traffic and website use?
- Where else could you get traffic from?
- Who are your competitors?
- What are they doing well?
The answers to these questions might result in a strategic focus on email marketing, content marketing, social media, paid advertising, affiliations & partnerships, Google My Business and other location-specific digital marketing or a combination of these and other community marketing opportunities. SEO may factor into the mix, or it may not be essential at all.
If you’re unsure about where to focus your marketing efforts, give me a buzz.
About the Author
Niki May Blane is founder of Big Bee Content – our ‘Queen Bee’.
She can most commonly be found buzzing around her computer, delivering virtual workshops, creating copious amounts of copy and drinking coffee to combat the ill effects of non-sleeping children.