Content vs. SEO? Always Put Your Audience First!

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Feb 12, 2013 | Social Media & Online

In marketing circles today, there is much discussion about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and techniques for optimizing your social marketing’s ranking performance. Much is made of the focus on key words and phrases to create the greatest boost for your company brand. SEO clearly has an important place, but if your keywords and phrases are not woven effectively into a story that is of interest to your customers and provides tangible benefits to their lives, the best of SEO performance can be of little value.

Content is King

Rather than writing for SEO, your first priority should be to speak to the needs and priorities of your target audience in a way that is both educational and interesting. Valuable content is “Job One”, your top priority. SEO techniques can then be used to assure your content is viewed by as many members of your target audience as possible.

Sonia Simone co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media addresses this issue in her podcast, Put the Audience First.

When asked about the role that SEO should play in one’s content marketing efforts, Ms. Simone says, “Search engine robots—the last time I checked—do not have credit cards to buy.” As she puts it, “Focusing on SEO means privileging the spiders over the people you’re trying to reach.

“You can make the search engine robots very, very happy, but if you’re not doing something for your audience, it has absolutely no business value,” she explains. “For this reason it makes more sense for us to look at SEO as a function of content, rather than content as a function of SEO.”

Content Builds Your Audience

According to Ms. Simone, the primary consideration of content marketing is often “building an audience.” “Content marketing,” she explains, “is creating something people want to read or watch or listen to in order to build a sustained audience over time, so they will pay attention to you when you’ve got something to offer in terms of a pitch, an offer, a product.”

Audience Builds Your Business

To build an audience with your content, the former needs to be able to find the latter, which is where SEO plays a role. Still, no matter how helpful Google can be, Ms. Simone says, “Build your business and your content like you do not care what Google thinks. “Sometimes Google just decides very capriciously that there’s something that smells funny about your site and they’ll stop sending you traffic. “So, she concludes, “your content needs to work with or without Google.”

Implications for Senior Living Providers

First and foremost, create great content for your audience! Make it relevant, educational, interesting and actionable. The better your content is, the more effective it will be. But it’s only half the battle. For your content to really work for you, it must be seen. That’s where SEO comes in. Content and SEO should work “hand in glove”. Just remember to give the “hand” first priority, i.e. valuable, customer-focused content!

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