Content Creation: SEO vs. Virality

When it comes to content creation, you’re probably thinking about blog posts and YouTube videos. But there’s a bigger picture in terms of who the content is designed for and who creates it.

There are roughly five different areas in this landscape.

These areas are created by mixing two variables:

  • What you’re optimizing for: SEO vs. virality.
  • Who creates the content: Users vs the business itself.

If you mix these two variables, you get five areas:

  1. User-generated SEO-optimized content (UGC): Quora and Reddit
  2. Editorial-generated SEO-optimized content: Ahrefs or HubSpot
  3. Data-generated SEO-optimized content: This stands between the first two. Tripadvisor and some other travel sites are an example.
  4. User-generated virality-optimized content: TikTok
  5. Editorial-generated virality-optimized content: E.g., MrBeast

After creating these categories, think about the best companies that used editorial-generated SEO-optimized content to grow.

Common examples might include Slidebean, Ahrefs, Intercom, and HubSpot.

In each of the company’s shoes, think about the following:

  • Why do they put resources behind the content?
  • What kind of resources did they put into content initially?
  • What do the content team and resources look like now?
  • How do they operationalize the content creation?
  • How can companies pursuing this content-driven growth now achieve similar results?

These are the main takeaways:

  • Start small and play around with platforms, topics, and styles until you find something that works.
  • Define a clear goal, be it traffic, brand-building, or driving sales.
  • Look for opportunity: research topics where users are under-served. Create content that delivers differentiated value. It’s hard to compete for head terms in SEO, but easier to compete for niche terms that are scarcely competed for.
  • The best content will be produced by people who truly care about the business or product. Usually the founder or passionate employees.
  • Think long-term: make sure there’s a clear path to grabbing the fruits of this investment in the future.
  • Be patient, because even the companies listed above took years before seeing the payoff of their content production efforts.

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