When You're Tempted to Fret about SEO, Do This Instead
SEO is undeniably important. But with frequent changes in standards, professional opinions, and search engine algorithms, it can quickly become a source of stress for the small business owner, firm, or solopreneur.
Thankfully, most website platforms contain built-in features that assist with SEO. For instance, Wordpress includes a free plugin called Yoast SEO, which guides the user through SEO-boosting steps like including back-links, tagging headers, inserting alt text on images, utilizing subheadings, and more.
Nonetheless, the digital world is crowded. And for small firms or businesses attempting to build up their content, the quest to stand out in a sea of words can feel like a losing battle.
Fortunately, search engines are starting to rank content based on quality and depth of topic rather than certain SEO tricks, like post length or the frequency of keywords. In other words, engines like Google elevate content that is constructed with the end user in mind – quality content that provides value to readers. Alternatively, search engines have demoted “keyword stuffed” articles, which intentionally repeat certain words or phrases in an attempt to fare better in organic searches.
Of course, keywords matter. Tags and back-links matter. Images matter. Length matters. But these are all just a very small part of the greater whole, a context that involves components like the quality and clarity of your writing, its relevancy and depth, and above all, its value to your audience.
Say what you need to say, and let it be clear, concise, and relevant.
The Google algorithm will change. Expert opinions will change. Trends will change. But you can never go wrong with quality content crafted with your audience in mind. If you write with the right intention – always to educate and inform your audience, to add value – you’ve won. On the other hand, trying to chase an elusive SEO ideal will end up frustrating you.
As such, make quality your end game. After all, your mission is not to please a search engine. Your goal is to serve your clients, to provide a valuable service by equipping them with knowledge.
As a former litigator, I’ve worked with a range of clients, from individuals injured in accidents, to startups, mid-sized companies, and large corporations. I have counseled executives on how to manage their accounts and explained the doctrine of contributory negligence to bereaved family members seeking to bring a wrongful death claim. I understand that at the end of the day, how my website fares compared to others is not nearly as important as educating and helping these real people: flesh-and-blood humans with stories and challenges and numerous questions. Because of this, I write content for the real people who will be reading it - not for the search engines that will be ranking it.
Your content plan should follow this same principle. When writing, don’t worry about stuffing your posts with keywords or feverishly researching the latest SEO trends. Instead, think about your clients, and write for them.
Here are a few tips to help you foster a healthy mindset shift in your own content marketing plan.
1. Compile your clients’ FAQs.
I recently heard a prominent copywriter state that the best content "is in your prospective clients’ heads." Keep a running list of questions your clients commonly raise, and be sure to note the frequency of these questions. For instance, if in the last month five different people asked you whether a civil judgment can tie up someone’s 401k, write a blog post addressing that question.
Bonus: Once you've published the post, send the link to all of the individuals who asked you about the topic. Encourage them to pass it on to their friends and colleagues.
2. Take a poll.
When in doubt, ask your audience what they would like to read. Create a survey or poll and send it to your clients via your email list. Alternatively, share it on social media and invite people to respond. No one is better equipped than your own clients to tell you what type of content would be most useful to them.
3. Think about what you’ve learned and share it with your audience.
The practice of law is an ongoing learning process. If you recently learned about an important piece of case law, for instance, share what you learned with your audience. If you found it interesting they likely will, too.
4. Eschew comparison at all costs.
Resist the temptation to stalk another firm’s website or blog content. While it can be useful to see what your competitors – or colleagues – are doing, it can also needlessly distract you from your own marketing goals, particularly if you are comparing apples and oranges. For instance, if you are a two-year old, two-attorney firm, don’t compare your website to that of a Top Ten law firm with hundreds of lawyers and a sophisticated marketing department. This practice will drain your time and energy, and does nothing to improve your own processes.
Cultivating a client-centered mindset can help you permanently ditch any stress over SEO. Stay focused on your goal of informing, educating, and adding value to your audience, and your content will rise above the rest.
Questions? Feel free to reach out!