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Keyword driven content works great in the beginning for TOFU, especially when you want to start generating traffic for some long-tail questions and problem-statements, or when you want to write general pillar content for highly competitive queries like
What is a Headless CMS? or
What is an API?, however, a purely keyword driven strategy often leads to generic content and fails to showcase any authority or experience on the topic.
Relying solely on keyword research tools hasn’t been the best approach to high-performing content for me. Instead, focusing on conversations and problems discussed with prospects have worked far better, given that the problems and use-cases of prospects tend to be shared by others far more. Sure, I’ve seen drops in overall traffic, but given I consider traffic to be a vanity metric in most cases, it hasn’t bothered me much. That drop in traffic has often been compensated by almost-double-digit growth in content-to-demo conversion rates, and has served as a great reference point in sales conversations.
For example, GraphQL Vs. REST APIs is something that was consistently ranked in the top-3 on Google (2021-2023) and drove tons of traffic for us, but led to <0.25% conversions to signups or demo requests.
In contrast, a highly in-depth article based on a prospect’s use-case on how to set up SEO with a Headless CMS got far less traffic, but since it was a 1:1 match to bigger concerns we faced in the pipeline from prospects, generated 7-8% CVR from page view to demo requests at the time.
While keyword research gives insights into popular terms, it often lacks the nuance and depth needed to truly address what searchers are looking for. Taking a customer/prospect driven content stategy allowed us to grasp their pain points, use-cases, and preferences firsthand, and create content that solved their problems - similar to others who were searching to solve similar problems.
TLDR - I’m not saying all keyword research is entirely useless, but there’s a limit to how far they can go if you want to build genuine authority on a topic or create highly engaging/converting content.