Humans Vs. Search Engines: Which Side Is YOUR Content On?
SEO content marketing has been, and remains, one of the most effective strategies for companies wishing to get their brand out there and seen by the masses. However, well-meaning companies can easily lose their way when creating SEO content, becoming absorbed more in the clever techniques that exist than in the creation of valuable content.
It’s a balancing act to be sure, and one that you will have to perfect if your content strategies are going to be successful. When the concept of search engine optimization was first introduced, many websites went overboard, stuffing as many keywords as possible into their content and completely neglecting the user experience their readers would have. It’s an understandable mistake, but not one that should be ignored.
Acknowledging the Consumer
Fortunately, according to a survey recently conducted by CMI, more and more company and website owners seem to be aware of the need for quality content. Indeed, 18 percent of those surveyed responded that content should be all about the readers, while 37 percent felt a balance between user experience and search engine friendliness was important. Another 27 percent wanted a mix of SEO and user experience, with a heavier shift toward the consumer. Together, more than three quarters of the survey group understands and acknowledges that without a focus on the reader, optimized content is essentially worthless.
Assessing Your SEO Content
Are you one of the 77 percent whose goal it is to provide high quality content to your readers? If not, you could be losing valuable marketing potential, along with a large portion of your audience. Does your content:
- Consistently maintain a keyword density of 2 percent or less?
- Provide useful, valuable, and unique information to the reader that is easy to read and comprehend?
- Focus on one main idea at a time?
- Suggest that the reader take further action rather than shouting at the reader to “ACT NOW!!!”?
If your content doesn’t provide a positive response for each of these points, you may be more focused on search engines and selling than on the human element of the equation.
Certainly, there are exceptions to the rules: it’s ok to have a higher keyword density from time to time if your keyword naturally fits into the content. In fact, those are the ideal times to take advantage of your keyword. It is when your keywords are obviously forced into your content above and beyond the amount of times they should be that you start to turn your readers off to your site.
Making the Transition
If you do assess your SEO content and find that you’ve been trying to placate the search engines a bit too much, don’t panic. Everyone makes mistakes. The real mistake comes from failure to learn something from those errors and improve. Your content may not be quite as bad as you think, or it could be worse. Either way, you’ll need to:
- Revisit every piece of content you have on your website and look at it with fresh eyes. Try to envision yourself as a consumer and ask yourself what you don’t like about it from that perspective. Sometimes this can be difficult to do, especially when you are close to the subject, so don’t be afraid to call on a professional marketer or writer for unbiased help.
- Reassess your keywords. Do you have a small group of keywords that you consistently use throughout your website and content, or do you choose a new keyword for each piece based on trends? Your readers want consistency, even if it’s not trendy, so pick a theme and stick with it. You may have to rewrite some pieces or throw others out altogether, but remember that it is all for the greater good.
- Forget SEO every now and then. If you have a good amount of high quality content on your site already, once piece of content every few months that doesn’t have a higher keyword density isn’t going to hurt you. In fact, your readers will likely appreciate the fact that you are focusing on their needs and wants so much that they will be more apt to share your content and come back for more.
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it until it sinks in: search engines do not read your content. Consumers do. Search engines do not purchase your products and services. Consumers do. Remember that when creating your content and you’ll do just fine.