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Lee Odden

Content Strategy and the Dirty Lie about SEO

By Lee Odden     Content Marketing, Online Marketing, SEO

SEO Content StrategyA recent comment on Online Marketing Blog in response to advice on Content Marketing Optimization states: “Why not write less and give more to gain credibility …  reach the audience and the rest will follow?”    It makes sense to create great content that people will interact with and share, growing visibility over time naturally. But that’s a superficial and often naive approach to content marketing.

Here’s the full comment from Kal:

“I find a lot of content is wasted! You see the site ranking and click! All you see is garbage and you know it is written for the search engines and not for the reader, researcher, consumer or the surfer.”

“Why not write less and give more, then for sure you will gain credibility and credits. The problem isn’t being able to reach the first page, but reach the audience and the rest will follow.”

Who to blame for SEO ruining content? No doubt, there’s  too much content created purely for SEO. You could blame SEOs for that. You could also blame Google for ranking it so high and you could also consider the companies that hire SEOs who want higher rankings – fast.

The dirty SEO lie. The reality is, that the “less is more” argument with content strategy works great when you don’t have to worry about where the traffic to the great content will come from.   This is part of the “dirty lie about SEO”:  That great content attracts its own audience and that SEO ruins content.

Promote and optimize – and they will come. Should content have purpose, be coordinated, planned and measured? Of course.  The missing link from this kind of advice is the importance of attracting readers to the content and being accountable to the marketing performance of that content.

Content must be accountable. Since most content strategy work is more focused on messaging, workflow and managing purposeful content and NOT on sales, strategists don’t often value the built-in traffic generation capabilities of SEO.   Most consultants are inherently biased towards their own expertise and without a holistic perspective or checks and balances, the client’s objectives will not be served properly by over emphasizing SEO or by dismissing it.

The answer? Content SEO talent. There are many marketers that refuse being herded into this channel, that great content requires advertising to attract traffic to it.  The most talented content marketers I  know are thoughtful about efficient content, messaging and workflow. They are also capable of incorporating SEO best practices within a content strategy so all the great content can be discovered via multiple channels including social media and search engines.

A disservice to clients. If you have great content, the question of attracting relevant traffic to it has to be considered.  Not many tactics are more effective in doing that than being where customers are looking.  Suggesting a company slice their website content in half or to expire older content without considering the impact on the ability for that content to attract buying customers via search is a gross disservice. It’s just as bad as a SEO agency suggesting a company create hundreds of junk, keyword stuffed pages just for the purpose of attracting search traffic.

Great SEO, social media and content marketing is a win for all. Poorly executed SEO isn’t any more helpful to customers than amazing content that no one can find except via advertising. A combination of quality SEO and Social Media Marketing can drive substantial attention to quality content. We call that Content Marketing Optimization. Adding advertising to that mix is fine but its not the only way to reach audiences.

What do you think? Do you think SEO ruins content? Do you think great content will naturally grow traffic to itself? Can Content, SEO and Social Media quality help marketers realize the best of both worlds: great search & social visibility plus engagement with quality content?


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