A hot air balloon being dragged down by a giant anchor

Content and SEO are complementary marketing efforts. Good content makes for good reading, and if you can optimize that good content to please Google as well, then you’re in business. The content part, though, is pretty darn important.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 57% of marketing executives say on-page content development is the most effective SEO tactic. Is there a point where SEO optimization can hinder your content marketing efforts? With this question in mind, we’ve asked content marketing experts what good SEO practices are, and when they could potentially hold back a brand’s marketing efforts. Here are some tips they shared. 

Content Length

“First, your content needs to be long,” suggested Chloe West, content marketing manager at Visme. She believes 2,000-2,500 words is ideal, but the minimum should be 1,500 words. That’s because shorter posts have less keyword ranking potential and are harder for search engines to understand the context of the text.

Keyword Placement

“Second, you want to include your keyword within your permalink, article title, meta description, intro, various H2s and in your conclusion, as well as whenever relevant within your content,” explained West. But you need to make sure you don’t “keyword stuff,” you should always use keywords naturally.

Relevant Links

Third, it's a good idea to link back to several other blog posts when they're relevant to your content,” said West. These links are crucial for showing search engine crawlers how your content relates to each other. In addition, by linking to authoritative websites, it can make your content seem more credible to search engines as well

3 Common SEO Pitfalls 

While the SEO best-practices are great to follow, they can often get in the way of offering value to your target audience. Here are some tips for avoiding SEO limitations.

1. Putting Keywords Before Quality

Keywords are crucial, but they shouldn’t get in the way of answering your customer’s concerns. “Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the research and data for relevant keywords to your business,” West explained, “and miss out on the opportunities that your customers are actually looking for.” That’s why she recommends creating a content strategy that combines high search volume keywords with less optimal keywords that your specific audience is still interested in. Producing content for both types of keywords ensures you keep both your audience and search crawlers happy.

2. Over-Optimizing Blog Posts

There are an endless number of ways to optimize blog posts, but some tactics can degrade the value of the content. “[Blog posts ] can’t be overly optimized for search bots; readers won’t want to read your robot-speak,” said John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, “but it does need the right level of optimization to ensure that the search engines understand how to rank your content.” You need to find the right balance for producing compelling, yet still SEO optimized content.

3. Only Pursuing Large Keywords

“I think the risk with keyword research is that it's tempting to only go after the really big, super high volume keywords,” stated Mason Stout, SEO specialist at  SeniorLeaf. These are not only extremely competitive, but they’re usually top of the funnel topics that don’t often lead to conversions. “Most content writers probably don't care about going after the long tail keywords that only get 10-20 searches a month,” added Stout, “when these are the terms they should be focusing on.” Narrower topics are often more relevant to your target audience and more likely to resonate with your readers. That means you shouldn’t lose sight of your audience.

How Can Brands Scale Their SEO Efforts?

“When you are creating a lot of content,” Stout said, “it can be challenging to do SEO on all of it.” Following SEO best practices, and avoiding the common pitfalls, becomes challenging to achieve at scale because it’s often time-consuming and teams aren’t in alignment.

One of the main challenges is that producing a large volume of content usually requires multiple writers and different teams. “In these situations,” Stout suggested, “I think it is helpful to have one person who takes the lead on content research and keyword research.” They can find keywords that will grow your business, but also help train your writers on SEO best-practices for producing content.

“Finally,” Stout concluded, “I don't think it hurts to give your content to your SEO team to look over and make any kind of recommendations before publication.” When it comes to content marketing in 2020, it’s all about finding a balance between producing content that will rank well and that your audience loves.