In the previous article, I aired my frustration about marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) “consultants” who tell their clients that the quality of their marketing content is secondary.
In other words, it’s not about the value of the information you provide. It’s about getting the keywords in there a certain number of times, and maybe a few links.
This is an antiquated approach to search that Google has been poo-pooing for years. If the search engine you’re trying so desperately to please comes right out and says in its guidelines that quality matters, that should be a red flag that you’re getting bad advice.
Beyond what Google thinks, consider what your audience will think when they click through to content that doesn’t meet their expectations.
If you get people to click but you don’t get them one step closer to a sale, your content is pretty much useless. If you’re running a pay-per-click ad campaign, clicks without conversions just cost you money.
In this article, I want to focus on another trend that tends to abandon audiences in favor of feeding the Google beast. This one involves an editorial calendar – the schedule of topics for blogs, newsletters, videos, podcasts, etc. – that’s completely fixated on Google.
The “consultant” gets the list of the most popular Google searches or keywords related to a company’s products, services or industry. They copy and paste those searches or keywords into an editorial calendar. Job
Here’s the problem.
Google search popularity is not the same as an effective editorial calendar.
A list of popular searches and keywords is valuable information. If the goal is to improve your search ranking, that list should be factored into your content strategy. But it shouldn’t be the only factor.
What people search for on Google and what people want and expect you to cover in the content you publish on a regular basis are two different things.
Generally speaking, people use search engines to find stuff, buy stuff and research stuff. Your content is a different story.
People read, watch or listen to your content to be educated and learn new things. They expect to somehow benefit, personally or professionally, from the information you share.
Sure, there’s going to be some overlap in what people find on Google and your content. But the two have different functions and user expectations. That’s why search marketing and content marketing are two different animals.
On the day I wrote this post, I spoke with the president of an accounting firm about opportunity zone funds, which offer tax advantages for investing in economically distressed communities. Opportunity zones were added to the tax code as part of the recent tax reform legislation and the regulations were just finalized a few months ago.
The client said these funds are hot right now and the accounting firm is getting a lot of inquiries, so he thought it would be a good idea to discuss the topic in a blog article.
I can just about guarantee that opportunity zone funds aren’t winning any accounting-related popularity contests on Google. But this guy knows for a fact that many of his clients are already interested in the topic, and many more would benefit by learning about it.
Would it make more sense for him to publish an article about income tax just because it’s a highly searched keyword on Google?
Eyeballs aren’t just coming from Google
One fact ignored by consultants who develop editorial calendars based solely on search popularity is that Google isn’t the only platform that drives people to your content.
There’s email marketing. There’s social media. There’s professional networking. There are links from other content and information sources. The point is, there’s no reason to let Google alone dictate the topics you should cover in your marketing content.
Don’t just ask yourself, “Is my audience searching for this on Google?”
The more important question to ask is, “Will my audience find this information valuable, helpful and relevant?”
The second question accounts for everyone who finds your content, not just those who arrive through Google.
As I said in Part 1, there’s no reason why you can’t write for your audience and improve your search ranking at the same time. Just keep in mind that people expect you to be a source of information, not keywords. They expect you to educate them and introduce them to new concepts, trends and data, not just the topics they’re already searching for.
If your top priority is to deliver value, your audience will never be left behind.