It’s a fundamental premise of blogging for inbound marketing. In other words, blogging to drive search engine optimization and lead generation.
- Identify a core set of words and phrases that support the marketing positioning you wish to own.
- Publish posts about topics in which you reference those keywords.
- Optimize each post by including one of your keywords or phrases in the title, meta description and the post content itself.
- Repeat frequently and consistently over time, and you’ll likely rise in search results when prospective customers search on your keywords.
If this sounds smart and familiar, or if it’s a recipe you’re now following, that’s great. As I wrote at the top, it’s a fundamental premise of blogging for SEO and lead gen. It proven to work. And it’s solid, legitimate inbound marketing strategy.
But here’s where it can go seriously wrong:
When you’re so focused on “owning” a narrow set of keywords, and so intent on posting about topics for which your company provides solutions, your posts start to sound artificial. Programmed. Mechanical.
Like one of those wind-up monkeys, banging the little cymbals.
Pounding Away at Monotone Themes
Do you know a corporate blog that looks and sounds like that? I do. I did a quick analysis of the firm’s last dozen posts. I had to squint to identify much of a difference between most of the titles. Made me wonder why they didn’t just combine a dozen posts into two or three. But we know why: Because search engines reward those who publish content frequently.
Will all the pounding away at a few positioning keywords help this firm rise in search rankings? Probably.
But I wonder if it also sends a message. Will customers and prospective customers find value and credibility in the posts? Will they see a service provider truly interested in connecting with them at a strategic level, ready to listen to their objective and challenges? Or will they see a marketer following a formula? Gaming the online marketing system, to a degree. Simply to get found in search.
If you’re taking this approach on purpose, your audience probably will notice. Whether they’ll see it as a positive or a potential negative, well, that’s for you to find out.
Don’t be surprised if our friends at Google notice, too. They have a way of updating their algorithm to reward those who publish relevant, engaging content. Don’t be shocked if they identify, and find ways to foil, marketers who publish content around keywords by rote.
Make Music. Don’t Monkey Around.
How can you keep your blog content from getting too narrow and mechanistic, driven more by SEO than by striving to add value and stimulate conversation within the community you’re seeking to build? Here are three ways:
- Elicit, don’t dictate, topic ideas: If the person who manages your blog is doling out most of the topics to post contributors, that could become problematic. Ideally, you want contributors coming forth with plenty of original insights and perspectives. Ideas which strike them as useful, entertaining or important to share with your audience. That’s how your blog will sound like an orchestra, as opposed to a pounding, repetitive percussion section.
- Focus on people more than words. Are you spending lots of time thinking about keywords and how to weave them into future posts? Make sure you or someone spends even more time and effort thinking about your audience. Write posts that speak to their concerns and interests, let keywords find a proper place, and your blog will be more valuable and engaging.
- Think click through, not just search rank. Climbing the search rankings is important. At some point what you hope is going to happen will happen: Someone, maybe a lot of someones, will click through and read your blog. When they do, what will they discover? A collection of thin, similar-sounding posts that could have been produced by a content farm? Or will they find your people, personality, passion, ideas, questions and maybe even some expertise on display. Varied. Multifaceted. Sometimes even funky.
If you monkey around with blogging, focusing on a narrow set of keywords and posting incessantly on very similar sounding topics, your audience might end up experiencing mostly noise.
And even when it emanates from the top of a search engine ranking, noise is still noise.
What do you think? Does what I’m suggesting fly in the face of smart, efficient content strategy and inbound marketing? Or do you, too, believe value and sense of community get drowned out in the racket when a blogger appears to be posting primarily for SEO?
This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.