January 19, 2018 What to do when the legal team says ‘no’ to your SEO keywords

By Stephanie Underhill

laptop showing analytics

You’ve written a great piece of content: it’s got a clever headline and is optimised with some winner SEO keywords. You’re proud as punch! And you should be, this is really great work.

But then, just as it’s being prepared for publication, you get the news.

Legal says “no”.

What?! After all the time, effort, and creative genius you poured into this, your legal team is not comfortable with that killer keyword you’ve used. What do you do now?

Understand why

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t get too upset. The legal team probably has a very good reason for rejecting the keyword.

As an example, SEO keywords that contain words like ‘best’ or ‘cheapest’ or ‘good’ may be high-ranking, but in many industries (indeed, in all businesses) it’s a risk to overpromise on your products or services by adding adjectives like this.

Specific industries, such as the financial services industry, have strict regulations governing how you can communicate to customers. The Australian Security and Insurance Commission (ASIC) is a key example of an industry body that sets out clear boundaries on what financial services providers can and can’t say to customers.

The ASIC regulations outline that you can’t give financial advice if you’re a financial services provider (i.e. a bank). Saying that something is the ‘best’ is subjective, so it’s essentially giving advice – while it may be true for some people, it won’t apply to everyone.

Seek a solution

You have two options if legal rejects your SEO keywords:

Option 1: Rethink your approach

Maybe you can still use the keyword, but in a different way. For example, rather than writing copy like ‘we are the best copywriting agency’, you could re-adjust your positioning of the keyword and write ‘the best copywriting agencies will often…’.

Subtle changes can mean the difference between overpromising and providing valuable content, without the hard sell. You could go back to your legal team and justify this approach as a way of still using the keyword.

Option 2: Try something else

There are always other keywords. If legal is really uncomfortable with that keyword, try something different. Maybe instead of ‘best copywriting agency’, use ‘copywriting best practices’.

Remember, SEO keywords aren’t the be-all and end-all

If you find yourself coming up against legal push back, understand that the legal team is just doing its work and protecting the company. And keep in mind, SEO keywords don’t necessarily make-or-break a piece of content. While they can help you target certain search phrases, Google pays much more attention to your page’s user experience than you think, so meeting your customer’s needs should be your priority – more so than keywords.

Before you put up a fight for your impressive, strategic keywords, ensure your content is achieving its goals by meeting the reader’s needs first and foremost. Focus on creating a great experience by offering valuable, engaging content. Your chosen keywords shouldn’t be obvious in the content, and the reader shouldn’t be able to notice that you’ve carefully crafted targeted keywords into the piece. Keywords should only ever be working behind the scenes, while your content itself is out on stage telling the story.

At Avion, we write content for a range of businesses, from national corporations to small startups. We understand the benefits of SEO, and how to balance this with user experience to produce content that’s genuinely valuable and meets regulatory requirements. We often work with legal departments, and understand what they look out for. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you.