Businesses now see content creation as the most effective tactic to achieve important search engine optimisation (SEO) goals. However, it’s also proving the most difficult SEO tactic to execute, research reveals.

The study from Ascend2, which involved the questioning of 256 marketing influencers, showed that 57% of firms believe content creation is the most important part of their SEO strategy, but a similar amount (48%) found it to be the most difficult.

We can attest to content creation being a time-consuming endeavour, but it doesn’t have to be as painstaking as some brands are making it look – you can be thorough without having to spend a whole week crafting a piece of content.

Trash laptop

Content creation needs to be a rapid process

It’s easier said than done for some firms, it seems, with 76% of the companies in Ascend2’s survey executing all or part of their SEO tactics using external resources.

It’s no doubt a wise move on those brands’ behalf. Content marketing is a hugely competitive marketplace these days – more high-quality content is being produced than ever. If you don’t make good on a time-sensitive topic as soon as the idea passes your lips, another firm will.

If you’re beaten to the punch by your competitors, it will be them that get all the shares, all the engagement, all the links, all the SEO gains, even if your content on the same subject is more meticulously crafted. More often than not, it’s ‘who gets there first, wins’.

That doesn’t always sit too well with us; we like to think that it’s the more well thought-out commentary that ends up getting all the love online, but that’s just not the way it works out in reality.

Messed up

All online content benefits from being the first

It’s not only brand content that works in this way – any online content, be it from brands or publishers, is under pressure to be the first of its kind.

Take a look at the reviews for the new JK Rowling film ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, for instance: Peter Bradshaw’s review, filed in the Guardian on the 13 November, has generated over 8,000 shares, while Wendy Ide’s review in the same newspaper, published on the 20 November, has garnered fewer than 200 shares.

It’s little surprise, then, that Bradshaw’s review is the top result when you search on Google for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Guardian review’, while Ide’s review has to make do with the second page.

Ide’s review might be a better, more considered piece – having seen this film this weekend, I’d be inclined to suggest this was the case – but as far as Google is concerned, it’s not the best content of its kind.

Fantastic Beasts

For those that want to achieve their SEO goals, it really does pay to be first.

So, the questions brands have to ask themselves is: do we have the resources in-house to turn a piece of content round in the space of a couple of days (max)? If not, it might be time to outsource your content creation.