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In Pursuit of SEO, Don’t Forsake Quality Content

Jessica Payne (4)By Jessica Payne

There’s a rush right now to pump out content for the sake of “good SEO” and it’s making PR pros lazy. The proliferation of apps such as Instagram, Tumblr and Vine has made it easy to publish bite-sized content instantly for a global audience. So has the return of app-free promotions on Facebook, which promise more content more often. But it seems as if the PR industry is forsaking producing valuable content for pure volume. Has the pursuit of an optimal Google result forever clouded our judgment when it comes to delivering the right content to the right customer?

What are the standards we hold to ourselves—as communicators—when it comes to counseling clients on content?

Don’t get me wrong. I live and breathe social media and advocate leveraging easy to- use platforms to engage, publish and provide access between organizations and their key stakeholders. And it’s never been easier.

I’m a huge fan of media rich environments and can’t wait to see what image enabled Facebook comments will do to amplify brand pages and communities. Content should only further enhance this kind of experience.

1. Remember the “value” imperative. There’s merit in using new social media apps and integrating them into your ongoing content strategy. You optimize experiences and engage new audiences that way. It makes sense and is increasingly measurable. But there first must be a vetting process for new tools and platforms. And where’s the preproduction? Slapping up forgettable content in a so-called “series” or boiling down a CEO’s keynote in six seconds may do more harm than good.

2. Measure twice, cut once. It’s times like this that I think about the days before digital—the hours sitting in an editing bay to produce B-roll that we’d then rush to distribute via satellite, courier or even snail mail. Weeks (sometimes months) of prep for a segment lasting maybe five or 10 minutes would suddenly come together in one bleary-eyed evening and distributed to the world (or local media). Digital creative suites have made the production process more streamlined, but the axiom—of getting it right the first time—shouldn’t change. Duplication cannot replace sophistication when it comes to content. Invest time in the production process.

3. Integration doesn’t mean superfluous proliferation. The PR industry has become more integrated than ever—and even in this on demand digital world, preproduction in real-time is a must. As we produce more content across more platforms, it’s imperative that we challenge ourselves to evaluate the right format, question our content and put in the legwork to ensure that we’re creating content of value, not just churning out a high volume for the sake of SEO. Choose only platforms that make sense.

4. We must raise the bar on content. We’re communicators and storytellers, charged with ensuring that our clients’ messages reach the right audiences. That PR axiom hasn’t changed, and in a world of real-time content, neither should your approach to content strategy. If one can prove memes and humor have grown a community and drive desirable outcomes, then they should remain key elements in the overall content strategy. If not, chances are the community will seek something else and find another destination to find what they are looking for.

5. Break something. Whether you’re building a website, rebranding or developing messages for the next fiscal year, testing is critical. If possible, use third party focus groups to garner feedback. You’ll undoubtedly uncover valuable insights—just be ready to pivot and adjust if need be. Leverage social networks and forums to give key stakeholders a chance to weigh in. They’ll appreciate being part of the process and chances are your content will resonate as a result. Break it. Fix it. Then break it again, and so on.

Slow down. Analyze your own behavior (likes and dislikes) of engaging with brands online—whether positive or negative. Nobody likes bombardment of useless content. Think about what makes content shared quickly and forgotten, versus that post or tweet you’re still thinking about days later. Ask yourself what made it memorable. Ditch the lazy approach and follow these five steps to ensure your content strategy stays rooted in best practices.

This article originally appeared in PR News.

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