Lee Odden

Optimize for Search, Optimize for Share – #SESSF

Content SEOFor the past 8 years I’ve been a big fan of using content as a marketing vehicle to acquire new customers. In fact, during our agency’s 10 year history, we’ve never had a sales person and have engaged in very little outbound marketing (long before the notion of “inbound marketing” became popular).

The growing popularity of content marketing within the SEO world has evolved from white hat SEOs that would proclaim “content is king” to recent declarations that Google’s Panda updates have now validated the need for quality content. But if Panda is the primary reason your SEO efforts are focusing on best practices content marketing, then you’ll still be at a disadvantage.

This post will outline a critical element of Content Marketing adoption for SEO practitioners who want to maximize the value of their content investments for both improved search visibility and customer acquisition.

Traditionally, SEO has focused on identifying the most popular and relevant keywords representative of a company’s product/services mix. Web pages would be optimized with those keywords and links acquired as signals search engines would reward with improved search visibility.

Web page links are giving way to links from other sources like social streams and sharing. Consumers expect, not only to find what they’re looking for, but to interact with and share what they find in search results.  Content that is solely optimized for search keywords doesn’t account for the importance of content that will inspire sharing.

There are multiple objectives with consumer interaction with content. Of course, converting prospects to customers is paramount. But it’s also important to publish content that is topically interesting and relevant for sharing to inspire links in social streams.

Not everyone is ready to buy and if our content is thoughtful about consumer information discovery, consumption and sharing preferences, it may inspire links and shares that result in better visibility on both search engines and within social networks where the links are shared.

Optimizing for search keywords will always be a best practice. Optimizing for social topics will help content creators include subjects that can inspire readers to share. That means researching social media keyword research. What are the most often discussed topics (on the social web) related to your target keywords?  Producing a list of search keywords as well as well as social topics will help optimize content that is findable in search and more sharable in social.

Content Marketing and SEO are a powerful combination. By optimizing for customers, vs. just keywords, search engine optimization professionals can gain the benefit of top rankings in search results as well as more relevant interaction with the content they click through to read.

Learn more about Content Marketing & SEO! I’ll be drilling down into the details of Content Marketing & Optimization on Thursday, August 18th at 9am during the SES San Francisco conference.

  • If you’re in a content production role, this will be a great way to understand the real value of SEO to boost visibility of your customer-centric content without compromising quality and creativity.
  • If you’re a SEO practitioner or if you have SEO as part of your responsibilities, then this session will provide you with a roadmap to elevating quality content that’s optimized for keywords as well as the customers you’re trying to attract.

Attendees of the Content Marketing Optimization session will also get a copy of our TopRank Guide to Content Marketing to download. Hope to see you there!  Of course, if you really want to drill down into Optimize for Search, Share and many other aspects of Online Marketing, be sure to check out “Optimize” (Wiley).


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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. I’m looking forward to it, Lee, I’ll see you there!

  2. “Optimizing for customers, vs. just keywords” — exactly! This is really the crux of what SEO is evolving into (and should have been about all along). We aren’t “writing for robots”, as they say. At the end of the day, you still want people to read your content and gain some value from it. That’s why Google keeps changing it’s algorithm to place more emphasis on content people like and share (the power of backlinks, juice from social media, etc.).

    Rand Fishkin made a great point when the last Panda update came out, saying that “The job of SEO has been upgraded to web strategist.” It all leads to better content being returned in search — and you can’t get there by simply knowing a few SEO tricks.

    • What’s a little funny about all this is that people like Bryan EIsenberg and others have been talking about optimizing for customers (vs just keywords) for years. It’s nice to see more traditional SEOs recognize the changing nature of the web.

  3. I am fairly new to applying SEO to my sites, and I thank you for giving me some new ideas to acquire customers and links. I especially like the idea of writing quality content which is optimised toward social interaction, as I feel it is only going to become more important. Thank again Lee.

  4. Avatar Chelsey White says

    it is helpful ~

  5. Hi, some great points, i think writing quality content is only part of long hike to seo success for any website, to expand if the erson managing any optimization for a website spends time on keywords, on-site and off-site optimization and generating backlinks but the site has poor content or content that doesnt appeal to their target market then what was the point in doing all that work. Writing quality content which can be taken on by the social circles i think is quite important, if one social folloer finds a website interesting or an article they will always discuss or pass it on, Sorry for going off topic abit.


  6. Avatar Bob Thompson says

    Great post Lee and it helps me get a better understanding of optimization for search.

  7. Hi Lee,

    Great article. Optimize for Sharing was a wonderful take-away for me. I know why I want someone to share my pages, maybe I need a little something to explain why ‘they’ might want to share it. Good optimizing idea. Thank you.