Large-scale websites by their very nature demand a large-scale content development effort. One big challenge is figuring out how to populate such a site with properly optimized content. This requires training the content development team.
Some people refer to the practice of developing optimized content as SEO copywriting. SEO copywriting is actually a term that I don't care for much. There is too much of an overtone of manipulation, and it can set you off on the wrong path.
Why? Because too many people get "SEO" in their mind and lose sight of the other, more important goal: creating a good user experience.
Giving up on user experience in a bid to get more traffic is a poor tradeoff. You end up with a bit more traffic in the short term, perhaps, but you end up with a site that is less linkable, and that probably has a lower conversion rate. This ends up being a way to potentially goose your business in the short term, but hurt your business in the long term.
It Isn't One or the Other
Viewed holistically, your content can serve both goals. You can have usability and better SEO results, provided you approach things in the right way (and train your writers accordingly). The first step is to realize what an incredible asset keyword tools like Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery can be to your overall marketing efforts, not just SEO.
Let's rewind the clock a bit to the days of marketing before the Internet. The key for marketing managers was to get inside the heads of potential customers. Television, print, and radio were used to reach millions of users, in order to reach a much smaller set (less than millions) of potential customers. Once you reached them, your message needed to resonate.
Imagine if we could give the marketer of yesteryear access to keyword tools. Suddenly, they could research the terminology that their potential customers use for similar products or services. They could see the actual words they use.
Then they could turn around and use that terminology in TV, print, and radio campaigns. Think that would resonate better in the minds of prospects? You betcha.
Now let's move back to today, and the future. This aspect of understanding the vernacular of your prospects is where usability and SEO meet, i.e. you don't have to trade off one for the other. If you think about your content development as an opportunity to communicate with your customer, and keyword tools as a way to improve that communication, you're on the right road.
Training Your Content Developers
In a large content development effort, it's useful to train your writers on how to use keyword tools. But in doing so, make sure you teach them how to look at those tools as a way to communicate with potential customers.
Don't pervert their purpose by filling their heads with stories about how stuffing keywords throughout their article will help the business by bringing in more traffic through the Web site. This is a shortsighted path. The writing quality will suffer, which will affect conversion rates and the ability of your site to attract links.
Instead, teach them to use keyword tools as writers, not SEOs or marketers. More often than not, writers want to create content that effectively communicates with the reader. Keyword tools can help them do that.
The other concept you want to get in your writer's mind: they're writing business-focused content, not a Harlequin romance novel. It should be direct and to the point.
One consequence of this is that the main keyword phrase should be in the title for the article. Once again, this is effective communication with the reader, because the first thing the reader will notice is the title, and the presence of the main keyword in that title reassures them that they came to the right place.
Ultimately, this focus on content quality, and keyword tools playing a role in that, will increase your conversion rate and improve the linkability of your site overall. And, as a side effect to all that, it will improve your SEO results.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!