Do you crave to write what you want – without worrying about keyword research, Google, or positions?
I get it. There are times when following the Google rules and optimizing content feels…boring.
Sure, you know following SEO writing best practices is important. Still, you wish you could break free and write what’s on your mind – not what Semrush (or another keyword research tool) tells you is a popular keyword search.
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Granted, having a set SEO content strategy in place is crucial – you can’t post whatever you want willy-nilly and still expect to position for your money-making keywords.
It doesn’t quite work that way.
But, there are times you can throw SEO out the window and write what you (or your client) want.
Here’s when it’s okay.
Some authors – even on a business blog – write personal transformation stories designed to motivate, show the author’s “why,” and showcase the person behind the brand.
Often, these stories are raw, transparent, and powerful.
For instance, I wrote this post about climbing out of my comfort zone and how bouldering in the Grand Canyon helped me realize I was capable of so much more.
Or, this post, which I wrote to remind readers they ARE a real writer – even if they’re new to the game, haven’t gotten paid much, or don’t have a huge Instagram following.
Could I have added keyphrases to the posts? Sure. Looking back, I see some opportunities to add a keyphrase like [how do I know when I’ve made it as a writer].
But, at the moment, writing an optimized post wasn’t the goal – it was sharing my story and motivating my readers. I may play with the post someday to see what I can do, but I’m pretty happy with its un-optimized status.
In a perfect world, subject matter experts would follow SEO style guides, research keywords, and write carefully structured (yet authoritative) articles designed to position well.
Yeah, it doesn’t work like that.
Many times, especially in highly technical companies, SMEs write what they write – and they aren’t interested in learning SEO writing best practices.
As SEO content writers, this can drive us a little nuts because (1) we want ALL content to be optimized, and (2) we’re afraid readers won’t be able to find those highly useful (but unoptimized posts.)
But here’s the thing…
Often, SME content is so highly technical that it almost doesn’t need optimization (other than a good Title and some subheadlines.) That’s because the topic is so specific that it could easily be positioned for long-tail search terms – something only the target reader would type into Google.
Is it ideal? No. Is it workable? Oh yes.
In fact, an SME from a company I worked with sketched a diagram on a Starbucks napkin, took a photo, and wrote a blog post explaining the napkin diagram. The article wasn’t optimized or fancy-looking. Heck, the featured image was a napkin! But it was still one of the company’s most trafficked blog posts.
Not every post needs to be buttoned down and serious – even on a B2B site.
For instance, I wrote this post years ago showcasing 14 SEO writing tips – in Haiku.
Was the article a blast to write? Yes. Does it share worthwhile SEO tips? Also yes. It even has backlinks (which wasn’t the goal, but it’s fun to see people citing the post and creating their own Haiku.)
Have an SEO writing strategy in place. Although this seems like a basic tip I already mentioned in this article, many site owners will STILL write whatever they want, thinking, “Google will figure it out.” Nope. That’s not the case. Yes, you can break the SEO writing rules – but you’ve got to know those rules to break them.
Keep your non-optimized content reader focused. You could write about the upcoming election and why you’re rooting for a particular candidate. But if your blog is about holistic pet care – and you’re ranting against a political party or stance – you may lose readership. Before you publish one-off content, ask how it fits with your overarching content theme. If it’s too far out there, you may want to save that content for another platform.
Track how the content does in Google and social. You may create a post that goes gangbusters on LinkedIn and drives leads…but gets zero Google positions. Or, you may find that the post written by the SME is driving unexpected long-tail traffic and gets cited on different blogs. Driving scads of Google traffic monthly is just one success metric – but it’s certainly not the only one. When you expand your definition of content success, you may find your content is doing better than you thought.
(And if you’re a freelancer or work in-house, helping your client navigate their SEO strategy and optimizing what you CAN optimize is an extremely valuable skill set. Especially for those clients who complain that SEO writing steals their creativity and they prefer to write what they want.)
So yes, feel free to shake it up – after you have a set strategy in place. That ensures you maintain (or build) the positions that drive profitable site traffic – while still having the freedom to have fun with some content.
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