Content Creation

Knowing When You Can’t Win With Rankings: What You Can Do


May 8, 2013 (Updated: February 8, 2023)

We all have dreams of attaining placements on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for a specific term or phrase, but the truth is you can’t always get what you want. Some times when people in my industry deal with clients this is one of the hardest concepts for them to understand. I know many in-house SEOs and marketers have a hard time explaining that to their managers as well.

Reality Check

The truth is that most websites just don’t have the authority to get all the rankings they want. There are times when there is no way you are going to beat big sites with lots of authority for certain keywords and phrases. So the best thing to do is just admit it to yourself, get over it and start getting creative.

However, for sites that have some authority you could possibly get to where you want, but it could take a lot of work and sometimes a very long time. So what do you do in the meantime?

Focus on the Long-Tail

You may not be able to get on the first page of the SERPs for “Chicago Pizza”, but you might be able to for “deep dish Chicago pizza” or “east side Chicago Pizza”. Obviously the terms are not the same, but you aim for related long-tail terms and you keep working on your site to meet your goal of reaching your prize term.

Give the Search Engines Some Meaty Items

With content marketing you can let the search engines know very quickly which terms you are targeting and what your site is focused on.  So here are some quick examples of what you could do, based on the “Chicago pizza” idea (remember you should be focused on the long-tail while working on your goal for a particular “prize keyword”):


  • 10 Elements of an Authentic Chicago Style Pizza
  • The History/Popularity of Chicago Pizza
  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pizza

Blog Posts

  • Instructions for making Chicago Style Pizza at home
  • Recipes for Chicago Pizza
  • 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chicago Pizza
  • How is Chicago Style Pizza Made?
  • What is the difference between Chicago Pizza and New York Pizza?
  • 10 Ways to Make Pizza A Healthier Food Choice for Your Family (mention places in Chicago to pick up things like fresh or organic foods and link to them)
  • Why People Love our Pizza
  • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pizza (Use the data from your infographic)
  • (FYI – The data from many blog posts can be turned in to infographics and used in email newsletters! Recipes can be gathered into an ebook when you have enough.)


  • Behind the Scenes: The Chicago Pizza Making Process
  • How to Make Chicago Style Pizza At Home
    • Recipes and Instructions
    • 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pizza (Use the data from your infographic and your blog post)

So you see that if you took some time to create some completely unique ideas about pizza and Chicago and then add them to your site you are clearly letting the search engines know what your site is about. The search engines don’t know unless you tell them. Google has specifically stated that they want unique information for their users; give them what they want.  It will pay off in the long run.

***IMPORTANT: There is SEO work that is needed to reach many of the tougher keywords goals, but creating content is helpful with this process. Your SEO company or consultant can give you some direction on what type of content they want you to make to help them reach their goal.

Many Benefits to Creating Multiple Forms of Content

You can create unique and helpful items with content marketing while working towards your prize keyword goal (that may or may not happen). The good thing is that the content you create is also going to be helpful for marketing, web traffic, social sharing, link building and engagement with your online community.

Whenever you create content it should meet more than one goal that you have.  One goal might be rankings and another may be more followers on Facebook. Always be thinking about which forms of content can work on more than one goal.

Don’t Give Up, Just Get Creative.

Bottom line, we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes we do, but we don’t get it without hard work. With content marketing you have the ability to work towards hard goals while also focusing on the long-tail. You can also create items that work on your ranking goals, but also meet a need or want of your audience. These creations can then be used to share on social and give you an opportunity to engage with your targeted audiences.

When you create different forms of content the items can be used over and over in different ways. Don’t ever give up, just get creative and see what happens. I always say failure is NOT a bad thing; it is a learning opportunity. Test and retest and find what works for you.

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May 8, 2013 (Updated: February 8, 2023)

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