Content vs SEO: Who Wins?

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Content vs SEO: And the Winner is?

A recent podcast on MarketingProfs “ Marketing Smarts” featured Copyblogger Media co-founder Sonia Simone and got us thinking a lot about content marketing. Content vs SEO, who wins what is the new strategy?

Simone says SEO should be a secondary consideration when creating content. The first consideration? Serving your audience. We liked what she said and it is like one of those moments when someone finally puts words to something you knew all along.

We also wonder where SEO fits into the conversation because, as Simone deftly recognizes, SEO is not dead. It still serves a vital function.

So in the Content vs. SEO match up, who wins?

Content vs SEO: The Match Up

In one way, it’s useful not to see SEO and content marketing in competition. It’s more like a relationship on the skids. At first, SEO and content marketing worked together in a partnership.

Companies developed engaging content, optimized some keywords and the search engines, and by proxy, the audience, could find the business.

Then the Internet grew and grew and businesses figured out they could drive more traffic to their website with better, and sometimes sneaky, SEO. Algorithms figured this out too and soon, content and SEO were in competition, rather than working together.

SEO Gone Wrong

What we see as a result of businesses placing too much emphasis on SEO is really bad SEO-driven blogs and websites. You’ve probably seen your fair share of these sites too.

It’s the businesses that churn out mountains of content, regurgitating the same ideas over and over. The business blog has hundreds of post that link back to each other in a never-ending feedback loop of reworked keywords.

These businesses put SEO and snagging top search engine rankings first. Their content may or may not serve their customers, but that doesn’t seem to slow the content mill down. In fact, if businesses find their current content does not result in customers, they’ll just turn out more SEO-centered content.

But with SEO as the only goal, customers will likely find little useful in the content and will leave a site as quickly as they found it. The content serves no purpose. Content vs SEO who wins in the SEO debate? Content.

Content to Build Audience

Simone rightly says all content should first work to build and then serve an audience. And in fact, search engines want you to do this, too.

When content engages an audience, it begins to spread through viral behaviors such as garnering likes on Facebook, retweets, comments on the blog, and even emails.

The current generation of search engine algorithms look for this kind of viral behavior because it indicates the content is doing what it should be doing — engaging an audience in a meaningful way.

So in essence, by ignoring what Google thinks of your content, Google will like your content more. Content vs SEO… Content is key.

So Who Wins? Content vs SEO

Rather than declaring a winner, we’d like to see SEO and content marketing get back to where they used to be, working together in the service of the audience so that the audience wins. And that is the heart of content marketing.

When you build your business, you build a community. You listen to your community to find out what they need and then work to meet their needs. By providing what your audience needs, they will listen to you when you have something to offer them like a new product or service.

Make sure your audience gets declared the winner, the surprise underdog we tend to forget about when creating content marketing. Because when the audience wins, so does your business.

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