Don't Substantially Optimize for SEO Instead of the Reader

Michael Marchese
August 12, 2020
focus on your audience and your reader first, and then apply SEO to your content

Don't Substantially Optimize for SEO Instead of the Reader

Michael Marchese
August 12, 2020

The best thing you can do as an organization is to focus on your audience and your reader first. Then apply SEO to your content afterward as a supporting mechanism. Don’t just optimize for SEO instead of the reader.

Creating content is about more than trying to game search engines for visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPS). An integrated and comprehensive content marketing program should be equally balanced between SEO and readability. Essentially, you can’t optimize for SEO instead of the reader. There’s no point in getting people to come to your site, only to have them leave because the content is not on target, on message or of value to the reader.

content marketing program should be equally balanced between SEO and readabilityHow does SEO fit within a content marketing program?

SEO should be employed as an adjunct to the content creation process. This means you should build your editorial calendar based on your target audience and the messages you want to convey. Then you should apply one or more focus keyword phrases to those topics that marry well with them.
For example, say I want to write an article about ancient Roman coins and specifically focus on Emperor Commodus. I would gear it toward my particular audience while talking about this emperor and the types of coins that were created under his rule. I would not start with the keyword phrase nor would I stuff the article with keyword phrases. That would destroy readability with my audience.

Over-optimizing for SEO hurts you in the end

In my example, the focus keyword phrase that I could potentially use would be “Commodus Sestertius,” “Commodus denarius coin” or something very closely related to the actual topic. There’s no point in trying to add keywords that are far afield from the subject of the content you’re writing.

How does over-optimized content negatively impact your content marketing campaign?

measuring traditional media buyThe next step is including those focus keywords and related phrases within the article in a way that doesn’t disrupt flow or hurt readability. Chances are that the keywords are already within the content, negating the need to add them again.
We’ve seen some crazy examples of customers going to the extreme with keywords. In fact, we’ve seen keyword phrases present 10 or even 20 times within a 500-word article! That’s nuts! As you can probably imagine, the result is SEO over-optimization, which destroys any chance of making the article readable and valuable to the audience. Frankly, this tactic is not going to work.
Search engines have become more sophisticated over the last couple of years. If you only optimize for SEO instead of the reader, search engines can very quickly detect these types of anomalies and either deindex the page or, worse, penalize the entire website.

In summary

When implementing your content marketing strategy, don’t optimize for SEO instead of the reader. Take a minimalist approach to SEO, and focus on areas that don’t impact readability, like meta titles and descriptions. Even here, however, you need to write them in such a way that they raise your SEO visibility and attract the audience to visit the page.
Doing much more starts to cross the line from an excellently written post into an over-optimized and potentially penalized piece of content.

Your content marketing program should be narrowly focusedNeed help?

If you have a content marketing program or are planning one, download our e-book 100 Mistakes Businesses Make When Starting, Optimizing and Scaling Content Marketing Programs.
This e-book will walk you through the mistakes of hundreds of other companies and the challenges they faced in implementing their content marketing programs. To learn more about how Tempesta Media can help you streamline your content creation process and deliver quality content at scale, contact us today.

Michael Marchese

Michael Marchese

Michael is the founder and CEO of Tempesta Media. He is responsible for corporate strategy, executive team leadership, and overall business operations across all the company’s segments. With over 25 years of experience, he has held various strategic and operating positions. ​​As a recognized expert, he has served on numerous committees for the following industry associations: SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization), IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau), CGA (Casual Gaming Association), and the MMA (Mobile Marketing Association).

Our Mission

Tempesta Media is the performance-based content marketing solution specifically developed to drive revenue for your business.

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