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Teaching cats to bark: How to fix the broken conversation between content and SEO4 min read

A successful digital content strategy combines the technical perfection of SEO with the unbridled creativity of strong content. To achieve this, you have to have two very different types of people working on your digital strategy – those left-brained SEO specialists on one side and the right-brained writers, graphic designers and other creatives on the other.

Getting these two groups of people to work together is a bit like trying to get dogs and cats to communicate. Both animals use their tails to send signals – but depending on the animal, a wagging tail can mean “I’m so excited to see you!” or “Back off because I’m about to scratch you to pieces.” Content marketers and SEO specialists have similar issues – often, they’re both working toward the same goal for the business, but they’re coming at it from two very different perspectives.

I have years of experience getting creatives and SEO-types to cooperate. It’s something I do in my daily job managing our content team as well, and I have recently spoken about the issue at the iMedia Brand Summit in the Gold Coast.

The theme of the summit was “It’s Not Broke, but Not Everything Is Working”, which was the perfect segue to talk about how communication often breaks down between Content and SEO teams, and how that can be fixed by:

Hiring the right people

When bringing on SEO experts and content specialists, you need to do more than just ask “Does this person know SEO inside and out?” or “Is this person capable of writing?”

When it comes to SEO experts, they need to also be effective communicators and educators. They need to know how to best filter out over-technical information to provide creatives with the essentials (and only the essentials) of SEO.

For creative hires, focus on finding the writers who are eager to learn more about SEO in order to make their writing more profitable in today’s climate. Screen out potential hires who have an affixed negative opinion of all things SEO – they are out there, and deadly for your content strategy.

Equipping writers with user-friendly SEO tools

Google Ads is the enemy of the creative brain. It’s designed for SEO and PPC experts, not content creators. Instead, provide your writers with user-friendly SEO tools like:

At Croud, we use bespoke content creation templates that include reminders of SEO best practices throughout, so that our content writers will always have optimisation top of mind.

Valuing storytelling just as much as you value keywords

Too many people think they can get away with underpaying their content writers because “writers are doing what they love!” This is simply not the case – no one is excited about writing your landing pages, even people who want to be writers for a living.

On top of this, it’s quite common for marketing managers to put SEO over creativity, because it’s easier to see the ROI on SEO. However, you risk alienating your audience if you don’t put creativity front and centre – finding a blend of the two is the key to success.

Google won’t punish you for being creative or anecdotal or weird with your content. But your audience will punish you for being boring.

Ensuring managers let the experts be the experts

Here’s a familiar scenario – a CEO who doesn’t have a creative bone in his body has some ideas about your content strategy. Or maybe this seems more familiar – your CEO is constantly complaining that she “Googled a keyword and didn’t see our business.”

This kind of input is endlessly frustrating for both content creators and SEO experts, and they come down to the same problem – decision-makers don’t trust their SEO and content professionals to do their jobs. You’re much more likely to see success if you let SEO experts advise on best practices and content creators showcase their creativity.

Need some more guidance on how to perfectly blend your SEO and Content objectives? I’m always happy to have one-on-one conversations with brands looking to take their content to the next level – contact me.