The Dilemma of Unique Content vs SEO

Unique Content and SEO: Enemies or Dynamic Duo?

Having done SEO for over a decade, I sometimes notice how certain sites rely on SEO excessively in their content creation. This aggressive approach can actually result in bad search experiences for users. Let see why it happens, and discuss several techniques that creators can use to make their content more visible in organic search.

Multi-Query Searching Experience Is Bad for Users

Have you tried searching for a recipe on Google recently? I bet your first search resulted in a list of similar recipes hard to choose from.

In my case, I searched for “bbq lamp chop recipe” and got a ton of basic recipes (ranging from 25 minutes to the whopping 1h 45 minutes). While searching, I never provided more details about my recipe need. So I made the change and made Google work harder for me by feeding it with a lot of new information. I told Google I had a gas grill, I had a lamb rack that I wanted to cut into chops, etc. So my simple quest for a lamb chop recipe turned into an “interoggation”. I did finally get a couple of recipes matching my detailed query after refining my search 5-6 times.

Then I started asking myself “What’s happening? Why does it take so long to find a “bbq lamb chop recipe for a propane grill”? Is my situation so unique Google is not able to give options faster?

When I started checking the recipes I believed were the best, I asked myself again: “Did I find this recipe because the creator was good at SEO and targeted the right primary and secondary keywords?

With this long personal example, you’re already seeing the issue: is what’s best for SEO the best choice for the user?

The Growing Reliance on Organic Traffic

Organic search traffic is the lifeblood of most websites, with many sites receiving over 60% of their traffic from this source. So, it’s no wonder that content creators and site owners are all vying for Google’s attention.

At the same time, Google’s responsibility is to give the searcher the best search results. Even though Google may be failing at this task at times, it’s still doing a better job than the second best search engine.

What’s the scoop? To do its job even better Google needs more unique content. It is simple: Google wants to give its users the best search experience possible. Unique, high-quality content keeps users engaged and coming back to Google to search more. [Then Google is able to monetize this behaviour, but it’s beyond the point of our article.]

From E-A-T to E-E-A-T

You’ve probably heard of Google’s E-A-T principle—Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. Well, Google recently added another “E” for Experience. Because experience adds a layer of relatability to the content. It’s not just about being an expert; it’s about understanding what the user really wants to know. By introducing this change, Google is pushing content creators to do a better job that goes beyond keywords and regurgitations (in hopes of pleasing Google’s gods).

Google’s problem is that it needs more unique content, but it needs to fend off a flood of SEO-optimized content, which is not in line with the E-E-A-T requirements. We should also admit that Google is not always doing a good job if we’re seeing a proliferation of similar content in search results. Sometimes it feels, it’s like an echo chamber out there. Users are exposed to the same tips, the same advice, over and over again.

Why Similar Content Pushes Google to Change

So what are we seeing happening in search results? I will continue using recipe sites as my examples below.

Uniformity Over Uniqueness

Users are facing similar-looking and sounding recipes when they do their first search. Why is it happening? The creativity and uniqueness that could set a recipe site apart are often sacrificed for the sake of SEO optimization.

Clicks Over Quality

As Google’s algorithm focuses on metrics like click-through rates and time spent on a page, Google may focus on the content with enticing titles and pages that have more ways to keep users on. While the CTR and time on page can be indicators of engaging content, they don’t necessarily reflect the quality or accuracy of a recipe.

Revenue Over Reliability

Site owners may have financial motivation to bring more traffic to the site because they monetize their content with advertisements or affiliate links. This can lead to a focus on quantity over quality, as more posts mean more opportunities for clicks.

Lack of Facts

Not all recipe writers are actually good at recipe development as they are at SEO techniques. This can result in recipes that look good on paper (or screen) but haven’t been adequately tested. That’s actually bad for the user trying to use the recipe and getting disappointing results.

AI’s Unreliable Contributions

AI is great in helping out with a lot of mundane tasks. But what AI-generated content does is a huge boost in content creation based on the already untested and SEO-overoptimized content.

Relating back to our example with recipes. The best SEO-focused recipes are now taken as a benchmark and twisted into new AI-generated variations. The final result is the same: 1000s more recipes with the same untested taste and bad texture.

Emulating Top-Ranked Content

Google’s algorithm encourages content creators to emulate what’s already ranking well. This perpetuates a cycle of similar content and makes it hard for truly innovative or high-quality content to break through.

How to Get More Visibility for Unique Content

Creative content and SEO

I don’t have a perfect solution for content creation, whether these are recipes or anything else. But I know for sure that there are creators out there who are able to create unique content and do a little more from the SEO perspective. I don’t want to harp on the idea “get more experience in your field” as there are other practical ways to make your unique content stand out. So, what would a person with some SEO background, like yours truly, recommend?

Keyword Storytelling

Don’t renounce on keywords. Keywords should not be used as “stuffing” in your content [no pun intended], but rather indicators of what people search online. Use your target keywords naturally within a compelling narrative. For example, if you’re targeting “best vegan brownies,” weave a story about how you stumbled upon this amazing vegan recipe. This way, you’re satisfying SEO while offering something unique to your reader.

Rich Media

Incorporate videos and visuals are relevant to your content. This technique not only enhances user experience but also keeps visitors on your page longer, which is a positive signal for SEO. But also make sure that the videos and imagery are relevant to your story and add more value to it.

User-Generated Content

Encourage readers to share their own tips or experiences in the comments section. This is an old technique, but it does create a community around your content and can also provide you with more ideas for new content.

Deep Dive with a Twist

Offer in-depth, valuable information that answers common questions (which is good for SEO). But add your unique insights or controversial opinions to differentiate your content.

Use Tools or Calculators

If applicable (and if you can), create a unique tool that helps your audience. If we go back to our recipe examples, you could create a personalized meal planner for your readers. This is a unique offering that can also be optimized for SEO.

Update and Refresh

Keep an eye on your top-performing posts. Update them regularly with new information or insights, and re-optimize for current SEO standards. This keeps your content both fresh, insightful, interesting, and SEO-friendly.

Final Words

Digital landscape is ever-changing, and Google is always one step ahead of content creators. Google is not just looking for well-crafted content; it’s pushing for something more—unique, experience-driven content, because this is what drives users back to use Google search.

It’s not an either-or situation between SEO and unique content. Think of it as a dynamic duo, a tag team that makes your content not just visible but also valuable.

SEO can help your content get the spotlight it deserves. Metaphorically speaking, SEO gets your foot in the door, but it’s your unique content that invites people to stay, explore, and become part of your community. It’s not the ideal scenario, but rather the reality of successful content creation today. So go ahead, optimize for those keywords, but never forget to infuse every line, every paragraph with your own unique touch. Because in today’s world, that’s how the game is played.

Like this article? Don't hesitate to share it:
Scroll to Top