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When To Use SEO – And When Not To Bother

We’re often asked by clients to include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) elements – such as SEO keywords, headers and meta data – in the content we create for them. 

But do you really need SEO for all of your content?

To find out, we asked SEO guru Anthony Barone to dish the dirt. As director and general manager of the London office of award-winning SEO agency StudioHawk – and frequent Proof Content collaborator – Anthony knows his way around the world of SEO.

We’ve combined our content-marketing know-how with StudioHawk’s SEO expertise to create a guide to when your content needs SEO and when it probably doesn’t. 

Do I need SEO for my website?

If you want anyone other than your mum to see your website, then SEO is absolutely vital for your website.

But before you even bother thinking about SEO keywords, titles and the rest, you need to focus on the ‘technical SEO’. 

Anthony explains: “If your website is technically poor, Google can’t understand it, so it won’t know how to find anything on it. The foundations need to be there in order to get the value of SEO. That means, for example, ensuring URLs are all working and indexable, that you have a good site map that you’ve submitted to Google and that your website’s structure is easy for Google to understand.

“Once the technical stuff is all sorted, then you definitely need to focus on SEO content. Without doubt, the two biggest things almost any business should focus on are a technically strong website and great SEO-friendly content.”

What about SEO for downloadable PDFs, e-books and white papers?

You’ve created a brilliant lead-gen download or maybe it’s a white paper that showcases your in-depth knowledge of a subject area. Do you need to utilise the best SEO content practices for this – keywords, H1s and the rest?

The answer is… maybe! 

Anthony explains, “If you don’t want Google to find your document – maybe it contains exclusive insights you only want your premium customers to see – then no, you don’t need SEO for it. So let’s say you’re attaching the PDF to an email and sending it directly to your mailing list, and you have no intention of publishing it anywhere else. In that case, it would be a waste of your time to optimise that document for search as SEO only exists to help Google and other search engines find content that’s available on the internet.

“But if your document contains information potential customers might like, then it’s a shame to hide it. So what I would suggest is that you upload it to your website, apply the best SEO principles to it, then you can maximise the value. Or you could create a blogpost or landing page for it, then apply the SEO to that with a link to download the document.”

Should I use SEO keywords in my social media posts?

In most cases, no. 

But sometimes, maybe! 

While search engines can now crawl some social media posts, these rarely appear at the top of search engine results.

The better way to use SEO for social media is by reverse engineering it. Anthony explains, “When you write a blogpost on your own website, that’ll help your SEO, which you can then amplify via your social media channels. You are essentially then leveraging those social media channels to draw people into the website. The more eyes on your page – and the longer they stay – then the better Google thinks that is. 

“Ultimately, that means the best way to use SEO for social media is by writing great articles with the correct structure and natural keyword placement, which is relevant and insightful – and then sharing that post on social media to get people to come back to the original article.”

Should I write blogs to improve my SEO?

Absolutely. And at the bare minimum, aim to make the blogposts’ title and URL SEO-friendly by including a targeted SEO keyword. 

“The single most important thing for your blog is to ensure it provides real value to the reader. If it doesn’t, then no amount of SEO magic is going to make the page a success. Your blog is your soapbox to showcase your expertise, insights and authority in your industry and on a topic,” explains Anthony.

“On a tight budget? In all honesty, if you could write just one blogpost a month of about 1,000 to 1,500 words that answers a question your target audience has, then you will help your business. Consistency is key – for search engines and your customers – so stick with it and you should start seeing results within a few months.”

As far as how to use SEO for your blogposts, you can look at this one as an example.

We’ve targeted “SEO content” as our primary keyword, went for “When To Use SEO” as a page title and H1, and have included a clear heading structure and internal links in the article.

We chose those elements based on SEO research from Anthony’s team. Combined with the fact our website’s technical SEO is good, and as long as we keep publishing content on the website, then this blog post should start ranking for those keywords within a few months.

What about SEO for press releases, email newsletters, infographics, podcasts and videos?

If you’ve not guessed the answer by now, then here it is: if these are not going to live as written content on your website, and you don’t want Joe and Jane Public to find them, then there is no point in doing SEO.

But in all cases, you can turn these non-SEO pieces of content into marketing materials that would benefit from SEO.

“You could take the transcripts from your podcasts and videos, then take the key points and quotes and turn them into a blogpost, in which case, you do want SEO for your content. And if your press release might be of interest to your customers as well as media, create a news page on your website, and adapt it for that, which would then be best served with SEO,” explains Anthony.

To sum up, if it will appear as words on a website that you want people to visit, it needs SEO. But if not, then save your SEO budget to spend on better-quality content.

Want more SEO-content advice?

StudioHawk is a dedicated SEO agency focused on one thing and one thing only – getting your website to the top of Google. More importantly, as far as we’re concerned at Proof Content, not only do they know what they’re talking about when it comes to SEO, but they’re genuinely lovely people to work with.

For great content – the kind that makes you look good to your customers, answers their questions and makes them want to come back for more – then you need Proof Content. We’re the word nerds who know how to weave in that crucial SEO naturally. Let’s chat.

When to use SEO in your content

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