“Well, The Guardian comes up in the number 1 spot when you type your main keywords into Google. I’d recommend we write about less competitive topics.”
If these words – or any variant of them – come out of your copywriter’s mouth, fire that copywriter.
The idea that you should avoid writing about certain topics because you’ll never ‘compete’ with the big name sites that come up on top for your keywords is as short-sighted as it is misguided.
Here are 7 reasons why:
1) This logic goes against the point of content marketing
Content marketing’s purpose is to ensure that your brand is a go-to, trusted source of quality, reliable information in your niche. By asking your copywriter to avoid writing about popular topics just because there’s competition out there, you’re reducing the chances of anybody bothering to read your content, let alone share it with their contacts.
2) Search is semantic now
The days of repeating a narrow set of keywords throughout your copy and waiting for your website to rise to the top of Google are long gone. In fact, the whole notion of a keyword has changed since Google released its Hummingbird algorithm in 2013. This algorithm is specifically designed to go beyond the words people use to understand what they mean, enabling them to receive much more targeted and relevant search results. Google’s intention is to analyse each query as a collective whole rather than just serving up content that happens to match individual words.
Just as Google has changed, so have users. They no longer just type one or two words into Google and sift patiently through the results. Queries are getting longer, and they’re being phrased in much more natural language. Someone looking for information about car insurance is just as likely to search ‘where can I get the cheapest car insurance for my Skoda Fabia?’ as ‘car insurance brokers’.
With an infinite number of potential variations on relevant search queries, the only solution is for copywriters to write extensively across a broad range of relevant topics, competitive or otherwise, and to use plenty of related terms alongside their core set of keywords.
3) Your customers are not just on Google
Google does not represent the only route to your content. You are probably also driving traffic to your site from your email campaigns, social media pages, PPC advertising, YouTube channel, event marketing, client referrals and so on.
Ignoring the needs of these audiences in favour of chasing a top spot on Google for a tangentially-related keyword would be a very bad move indeed: your clients, prospective clients, brand followers and communities on social media are all more likely to engage with your content than somebody landing on your site for the first time from Google.
Think of it this way: by avoiding so-called ‘competitive’ topics, you’re actually just failing your existing audiences in favour of chasing a new one. A far better strategy is to consider what kind of content suits each of your audiences and channels, then create an editorial plan that covers all your bases. For example, you might decide that an in-depth guide to wedding planning won’t get you very far in the Google rankings, but would be a brilliant piece to invite your social media followers to download. You might then create a fun Buzzfeed-style listicle to offer up to the Google Gods.
4) You shouldn’t ignore what people actually want to read
Let’s get one thing out of the way: just about every topic and every angle has been covered extensively already. Avoiding ‘competitive’ subjects won’t leave you with a clear path to search engine success – all of your less competitive search terms will still return many thousands, even millions, of search results.
The best thing your copywriter can do is take inspiration from the topics people care about. Where are the pain points? What are the problems your audience needs to solve? Use this as the starting point for your editorial plan.
Even then, you’re unlikely to uncover a brand new topic. The key is to write insightfully, and to try to go beyond what other sources have covered, as this is what will earn links and shares – writing about the same topic as a competitor isn’t a problem, but failing to add a unique view or expertise most definitely is.
5) A guaranteed number 1 spot on Google doesn’t exist (sorry black hat SEO guys*)
Let’s say you take the (bad) advice of the copywriter who wanted to write about less competitive topics, and you gain that coveted number 1 spot. Let’s even say you’ve managed to find a less competitive but still relevant and interesting topic that is driving good quality traffic to your site. It’s not a home run. A high profile site can still read your piece and decide to write their own, and they can knock you off the top spot.
(*If your SEO person/agency promises you this, fire them too. Only Google can guarantee a top spot on Google – and they tend to shy away from doing this, for some reason.)
6) Competitive topics mean high quality content
Competition is what drives us to succeed in business – and in this case, it can drive you to create better content. Better content means better quality traffic, more leads, and more money. Simples!
(As luck would have it, we recently published a piece filled with ideas about how to create content 10 x better than your competitors’ – enjoy!)
7) You just need to say something new
You’ll have gathered by now that we think your copywriter should not be afraid to write about competitive topics.
Just keep in mind that when your copywriter is creating content on an already competitive topic, something new needs to be added to the existing discussion. Don’t repeat points that have already been made or rehash other articles you find online. Apply your own insight, back up your information with sources and become a credible, industry-leading source of helpful information.