Lee Odden

Optimizing the Right Content for the Right Audience

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO


Last week I posted about situations where search engine optimization isn’t for sales and it sparked some interesting discussions. Most SEO efforts are directed towards lead generation and sales, but prospects and customers are not the only audiences for web content.

Fundamentally, SEO is about making the search engines’ job of crawling, indexing and ranking content easier, more useful to searchers. Companies publish many types of content to many different audiences. Most SEO efforts are oblivious to anything but leads and sales because marketing is the cost center paying for the SEO consulting.

Recently I’ve been educating public relations and corporate communications professionals at conferences like PRSA Digital Impact and Media Relations Summit on how SEO can be used specifically for news content. The intended audience are journalists and bloggers not consumers looking to buy products.

For example, here is a typical process involving SEO for lead generation where the intention of the searcher is to find products or services and they are presented with features, benefits and a call to action. The desired outcome of that interaction is a sale or a conversion and the searcher becoming a customer or a lead:

With news content, the target audience isn’t really people looking to buy products, although few companies would turn that traffic away from their press releases, media coverage, etc. Rather, the desired audience would be industry analysts, journalists and bloggers who are looking for sources, subject matter experts for stories they’re researching/writing. The desired outcome is not a sale, but to be selected as a topic, contributor or interviewee for an article/story published in the media.

The additional outcomes (potentially) include a relationship with the journalist for future story considerations and the journalist/analyst/blogger now having a new, trusted resource.

It’s an important distinction to make, optimizing the right content for the right audience but many companies and their SEO consultants tend to focus on content that can convert directly into revenue. This is a reasonable expectation but there are other types of content, communications and audiences that affect the bottom line like increasing the likelihood of getting media coverage. Valuations on each piece of media coverage can vary from $2,000 to $20,000 depending on the publication.

Other right content/right audience opportunities for corporate web sites include: careers and jobs content, customer service content (as mentioned in my previous post), investor relations and even corporate charitable programs. Optimizing those kinds of content not just for the sales generation opportunity, but also for the specific audience will enable the company to gain far more value out of their SEO investment.

I’ll be talking about this kind of focused content optimization specifically for news content at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. “News Search SEO” which will be moderated by Dana Todd of Newsforce and includes co-panelists Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR and Lisa Buyer of The Buyer Group. Be sure to attend this session because it’s all new information from all 3 panelists you won’t want to miss.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Great post. I need to expand the direction I give in my webinars to include this ‘audience’. The majority of people I speak to daily want their press releases to find customers but there are some who could grasp this concept. I will make an effort to get away from the booth and attend the session, I know Greg and I have spoken to Lisa but I still need to meet you. Looking forward to it.


  2. Thanks Mario, looking forward to it. See you in a few weeks.

  3. Just wonder whether there is any easy way of distinguishing whether a person is looking to buy something, or just browsing for finding something interesting to read. I.e. list of keywords 🙂

  4. I agree with you Lee.

    I am constantly amazed at SEO companies and how narrow-focus they are in terms of what you just described. Sales and marketing often want tactical control over specific conversions to dollars… while PR and executive teams have the strategic thought to realize 2 to 3 levels of detachment.

    About half of my own articles result in direct communication with a journalist or key decision maker that I didn’t have access to before.

    I think your second diagram needs to be combined with the first slightly. In diagram #2, “trusted source” and “media relationship” need to have the “searcher” pointing to them and then they need to point towards “customer”. The media relationship and trusted sources are were a good portion of searchers turn to before purchasing.

  5. @Lee: I love what you speak of regarding targeting classic PR nodes like investor relations. It’s nice to see meaty content like this offered.

    It IS very easy to focus on obvious fresh meat when guiding clients. After all, obvious cash-money-ROI is what they’re most inclined to push for. The approach you advocate for in this post and the preceding series takes a long term outlook.

    I am interested on where you get the 2K-20K number and if you would share any specific case studies regarding same.

  6. Excellent post, Lee.

    The simple illustrations work well.

    This can bring many “a-HA!” moments to intelligent clients (I’ll be sending this link to a number of clients who are so fixated on a specific result, even if it’s barely a blip on the radar, but massages their egos or provides substantially more valuable results).

    Nice work. I wonder if I can get McInnis to pick me up in his little tail dragger Pilatus for the show…

    To Marty: When you get a moment, order up some Media Kits from any given market that buys space in national magazines/newspapers. A single page in Hospitals & Health Networks ranges from $15,060 to $12,650.

    Here’s an industrial safety mag. Color rates top $4,300 per page.

    OK, ok, here’s one you might even know: Time Magazine:


    An ad, even with good design and good copy, is not as credible as an article with your client front and center. A well composed, relevant and timely press release will drive this thought leadership positioning.

    What’s thought leadership worth, in a major industry publication?

    Lee, you’re being conservative.

    Thanks for the cool insights.
    Mark Alan Effinger

  7. Doh!

    Here are the Time magazine Rates for 4-color ad space:

    Page $ 255,840
    Spread $ 511,680

    $51 per 1,000 potential viewers.

  8. Lee – great way to illustrate how these target markets can be segmented. It’s easy for clients to lose the focus of the media when writing press releases these days. What gets lost in the strategic thinking is the fact that if one journalist finds you in search, that can mean a possible story online or offline and equate to yet another search result reaching many more eyeballs and let’s not forget the credibility factor of editorial coverage.
    Look forward to sharing more of this at SES San Jose on our very optimized PR panel!

  9. One of our clients falls into both categories of targeting (searcher and researcher). They provide medical devices that can only be obtained with a doctor

  10. Excellent examples Mark, thanks. Advertising models are the most common value comparisons for PR efforts.

    I’ve also read Forrester making some interesting valuations that way as well concerning publicity as a result of blogs at about $5k a pop. The review of Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s blog in Josh and Charlene’s book Groundswell is where you’ll find that.

  11. Thanks Lisa, it should be a great and illuminating panel – looking forward to Greg Jarboe’s storytelling and the results of your survey.

  12. Thank you for a very good post. SEO should begin from defining clear and measurable goals for the site. It doesn’t have to be always sales oriented. To make it easier to understand, we can think of a customer buying cycle. Always ask yourself where customers are in the buying cycle: are they doing general research on a category of products (e.g. mp3 players) or they already purchased a main product (e.g. ipod) and they are looking for some gadgets to go with it (e.g. ipod case). SEO consultants should bear in mind this important distinction and optimize the site to target right audience.

  13. Interesting post Lee as segmenting users becomes very important for SEO.

    But How do you custom make content for that kind of a journalist who is primarily looking for content but ends up becoming a customer?

  14. Ankit, you start by creating and optimizing news content, information that is structured to be of use to a researcher, moreso than a buyer. Devoid of aggressive call to actions and deep with useful, unbiased info, facts and various media useful for someone who would use the info as a source in a story.


  1. […] Optimizing the Right Content for the Right Audience […]

  2. […] will be in good company sharing the panel with search industry experts, Lee Odden of TopRankMarketing, Gregg Jarboe, president of SEO/PR, and moderator Dana Todd, CMO of Newsforce,

  3. SEO is a PR function too | Online PR technology trends | Sally Falkow | The Leading Edge says:

    […] Lee Odden points out that SEO can be used specifically for news content. […]