Search engine optimization is probably the part of the online marketing process that is least associated with creativity, since it typically involves a sort of brute-force approach to adding content, generating inbound links, and otherwise “out-doing” your competitors. But, as with any part of business and marketing, creativity has its place in SEO… you just have to know where to look for it.
Here are three ways a little “out-of-the-box” thinking can help you achieve better rankings on Google, Yahoo, and Bing:
1. By using your imagination to think of new keywords
Here, in a nutshell, is the way most businesses go about finding keywords for the new website: either by brainstorming a few ideas, or looking at the terms and phrases that have gathered the most search traffic in the past. That’s not a bad starting point, but it isn’t always the most effective way to find keywords, either.
By applying a little bit of imagination to the problem, you can often find more specific keywords that have less competition and speak more directly to the type of buyer you want to target. Or, you may be able to come up with something that attracts searchers who are farther along in the sales cycle, so you can steal orders from your competitors.
In fact, although it takes a little bit more effort and promotional work, you may even be able to invent a handful of new keywords for your industry. If you can do that, and get people searching for them, then you will have created a search term niche that’s easy for your company to dominate.
2. By thinking of ways to attract traffic and publicity
In traditional media, “publicity stunts” are typically thought of as a bad thing, and they don’t often work. In Internet marketing and search engine optimization, however, the goal is always to drive traffic to specific landing pages. You don’t necessarily have to accomplish that with the same keywords and phrases that everyone else is using.
As with inventing keywords, thinking up ways to attract publicity – or just generate a “buzz” among a certain segment of your customer base – takes a little bit of creative thinking. Still, it’s worth noting that lots of marketers and lots of different industries have made a splash with viral videos, jokes, top 10 lists, free product giveaways, and a number of other promotions.
What each of these has in common is they don’t just bring visitors to your site and get people talking about you, but they invent new search terms and phrases (like “XYZ company funny ad”) that can only lead back to your site. It’s not pure SEO, but does that matter if it works?
3. By paying less attention to keywords and releasing content that’s truly original
In most industries where search engine optimization is competitive, you notice that a visible trend starts to take shape pretty early on: One company builds up a lead over the others on Google, and the others start to imitate their efforts, solidifying their places as the second, third, and fourth options (and so on).
That’s not a bad idea, if you don’t mind competing for second place, or want to try to “out-muscle” the leader with new content and complicated SEO schemes. But what if, instead of trying to go through them, you just went around?
What we are talking about here is almost sacrilegious to the search community, but there isn’t any law that says the content you release has to have keywords in the titles and subheads, a certain search-friendly length, etc. In fact, going against the grain a little bit could be a good way to stand out in the crowd, not to mention pick up some of the “long-tail” search traffic that’s becoming more and more important.
On some level, you’re always going to want to pay attention to the keywords in your content, but you don’t have to focus on them exclusively, especially if some of your words and phrases are being dominated by competitors. Why not think a little creatively and see if you can draw in a different crowd?