When developing a content strategy, one of your goals might be to improve SEO and get your brand in front of target audiences.

We’re here to challenge that.

As Brafton’s Director of Content Marketing Colin Campbell said: “Saying content is for SEO is like saying food is for chewing.”

Let’s break that down. A part of eating food is chewing it, but it’s not the end goal, right? The end goal is nourishing your body, and, well, staying alive. For content marketing, blogs, videos, graphics and the like are aiming to improve SEO and increase brand awareness. But that’s not, or should not be, the ultimate intention. The main target of your content is to boost your customer base and revenue.

For companies and marketers aiming only to enhance their SEO, the focus should move away from making SEO the ultimate goal. It should instead shift to using content to reach the ideal business outcome of increasing profit and turning leads into customers.

SEO is an activity, not an outcome

Much like chewing, SEO is an activity that marketers partake in, but overall, it shouldn’t be your end goal.

Colin explained that many companies, and often the SEO partners they work with, put too much emphasis on the technical SEO aspects. They look at SEO as the strongest selling point of a content strategy.

“We tend to talk about SEO as if it is a ‘money in, rankings out’ situation, and it isn’t,” he said.

Being too far removed from a company’s balance sheet and cash flow has made SEO more a part of the process of improving ROI rather than a step that automatically translates into monetary gain. It’s for this reason that marketers need to instead turn their attention to creating content that demonstrates value and brings in more business.

SEO is an activity, not an outcome.

How does content fit into this approach?

Content is not for SEO, nor is it a tactic that can stand on its own.

Sure, companies and marketers should think about their SEO efforts, but if you are creating content just to improve your bounce rate, organic traffic or other marketing buzzwords, you’re stopping too soon and aren’t keeping your eye on the bigger picture.

Still not convinced? Maybe another analogy from Colin will make it clearer:

“It’s like going to bat with the goal of getting on first base,” he explained. “Sure, you want to get on first base, but that’s not the entire point of going to bat. You want to make it back to home base.”

Don’t be afraid to expect more from your content marketing strategy. The goal is to bring value to your company, whether in the form of more lead conversions or better ROI. Centering solely on developing blogs, graphics, video and other pieces of content only for the purpose of SEO won’t get you to where you need to go. Content does its job fully when it’s an integral part of a clear and consistent strategy that improves a business outcome.

"Saying content is for SEO is like saying food is for chewing."

Refocusing your content strategy

So how can marketers shift their focus from content for SEO to content for the business outcome? It’s important to take a step back and ask yourself questions about your content and SEO efforts.

Say for example you plan to launch a blog series about a new product. Ask yourself the following to drill down on the ultimate goal:

  • Why do I want these blogs to rank for SEO? (The answer is most likely so prospects will see them.)
  • Why do I want prospects to see these blogs? (So they learn more about your company and product offerings.)
  • Why do I want them to learn more about my company and products? (So they will convert to leads.)
  • Why do I want them to convert to leads? (So they will turn into customers, which is the ideal outcome.)

Additionally, Colin recommended honing in on the available data that shows you how your content strategy has resulted in increased revenue and monetary gain for your company.

For example, did the bounce rate of your content decrease, which in turn meant prospects spent more time on your site, and led to a boost in conversions, and then brought in more business? Diving deep into the data and following the path to better ROI ensures that your content strategy provides a more tangible result for your company.

Let’s take it back to the original analogy. Sure, SEO may taste good and give you something to chew on, but if you’re spitting out your food, you’re not getting the full benefits of what you’re chowing down on.

Tressa Sloane is the Sr. Manager of Editorial Development in Boston. Born a Southern belle, she now resides in the chilly (but wicked awesome) Northeast, and when she's not learning everything she can about content marketing, she's obsessing over Elvis, Auburn football and France.