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The Great Content Battle: Search Engine Optimization vs. Creativity

Entrepreneurs wear multiple hats, which means failing to take on critical responsibilities could land you in hot water. Are you in charge of marketing your startup? If so, are you part of the 55 percent of marketers whose top marketing priority is content creation?

Your startup’s blog won’t do anything but take up your valuable time if you don’t optimize your articles. However, too much dependence on search engine optimization (SEO) could hurt the creativity of your content. What gives? When it comes to SEO and creativity, which one wins?

SEO vs. creativity

Regularly blogging is a great first step to drive traffic to your startup’s website. But is it more important to have articles that are optimized or ones that are creative?

Read all about the importance of SEO and creativity below to help you decide which is king.



Importance of SEO when blogging

Search engine optimization is the process of driving organic traffic to your site by increasing your web pages’ visibility in search engines like Google. SEO also helps with building website authority.

In short, SEO helps your blog posts get noticed.

Without SEO, your articles may only be seen by avid followers of your business, blog subscribers and people who find content when you promote it (i.e. those who see your social media posts).

But when you optimize your articles, you have the potential to reach the millions of people who use search engines to find how-to articles or answers to burning questions your content addresses. The more visible your articles are in search engines, the more traffic your blog pages and website are likely to get.

Increase the chances of getting your articles noticed by optimizing your:

  • Content length
  • Header length
  • Visuals
  • Content text (include the keywords your customers are searching for)

Arguably the most important part of an SEO strategy is finding and including relevant keywords in your article. When you start typing into a search engine, do you notice that it autofills questions or statements for you? These are popular keywords.

Use tools, like Google Adwords or SEMrush, to see what people are searching for relevant to your industry. Intersperse them throughout your articles (but don’t go over-the-top) and include them in your header and meta description.



Importance of creativity for blogging

Proponents of creativity over SEO think that prioritizing keywords and length are too restricting. And sometimes, you may want to write about a topic that doesn’t currently rank highly in the search engines. Basically, creativity keeps viewers on the page. A creative article captivates your readers, which can lead to higher marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).

SEO alone won’t improve marketing KPIs like:

  • Blog subscribers
  • Bounce rate
  • Social media followers
  • Time on page

Creativity, on the other hand, can encourage more people to sign up for blog and social media updates. And, creativity fuels readers to stay on your page, increasing your time on page and potentially decreasing your bounce rate.

Creative articles set your small business blog apart from your competitors and the hundreds of other posts out there.


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5 tips for blending SEO and creativity

Some startups focus on SEO while others lean into creativity. But what if you can have both? When it comes to SEO and creativity, your content cannot have one without the other. Check out the tips below to successfully balance SEO with creativity.

Do some research

To blend SEO and creativity into your content, start with topic research. You may scour the internet for great articles related to your industry to get some ideas. Find out what similar companies are writing about for inspiration.

You could even reach out to your customers to find out what they would want to read about. What are some customer pain points? List out topics that could address these.

Once you have a list of potential topics in mind, it’s time to do keyword research. Make sure that your topics have relevant keywords. Use these keywords in your article title and throughout the body, but don’t stop there. Use your creative side to support the keywords.

For example, if your keyword or phrase is “ways to cook chicken,” your article title could be “10 Mouthwatering Ways to Cook Chicken.”

Fill in the gaps

Writing about what’s already out there is inevitable. But sometimes, you can use the keyword research you’ve done to take an article in a new direction.

Fill in the gaps of what’s already been done. Add your own creative spin on a keyword-focused article by giving different tips, talking about lesser-discussed topics, and letting your startup’s brand personality shine through.

Have a personality

For creative and optimized articles, have a personality. Use keywords as a springboard to talk about your past experiences and give unique insight into topics.

Talk about your startup’s story. Detail what made you want to become an entrepreneur in context with the keyword-focused article topic. Discuss setbacks you faced or ways you ensured your startup’s success.

Just be creative, and find ways to tell your story without forcing it.

Focus on user experience

Whether you’re writing about a unique topic or a popular one that draws in thousands of search results per month, you need to ask yourself one big question: Would you willingly read this article?

When balancing search engine optimization and creativity, make sure your article isn’t just a string of keywords.

Give your article some life by working with the keywords and incorporating them into a more appealing title or article.

Emphasize user experience, which is what people experience when reading your articles. To help with this, write to your audience (avoid “one should” at all costs), show off your personality (as discussed above), and include some visuals.

Add imagery 

Although you might be able to spruce up content with wit and eloquent wording, you might still be left with a dull-looking article if you forgo visuals.

Add some creative, like images or text boxes, for visual appeal. And if you think your article has too much keyword emphasis and not enough creativity, display the information with an infographic. Not to mention, adding creative images (or even videos) also boosts the time viewers spend on your page.

When it comes to SEO and creativity, you can have both, as long as you strike the ideal balance.

Originally published June 14, 2019.

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