50 Shades of SEO – Is Search Engine Optimisation Dominating Your Content Marketing?

Obsessions often start with an innocent desire, but then quickly become all-consuming and destructive. This is definitely true of B2B marketers’ passion for search engine optimising their websites to the ninth degree. Yes, inbound leads from prospects already in buying mode are now far more likely to come in via your website than your annual industry tradeshow, as buyers rely on Google to sift through information to research and shortlist vendors. But inexperienced or offline focused marketers are sometimes manipulated into doing shameful things to their marketing content that they would not have dreamt of doing if an interactive marketing expert or web master had not told them to do so.

While SEO is a fundamental part of today’s b2b marketing plans, it is the content that matters most, as it effectively fuels your SEO efforts, engages your website visitors and provides the context for your keywords.

50 Shades of SEOIn the relationship between SEO and content marketing, content should be the dominant partner calling the shots. But with website-generated revenue often being attributed to SEO and PPC rather than the content consumed by prospects, it’s easy to be led to believe that marketing content should be submissive to SEO. Here are the top signs that your content marketing campaigns may be being perverted to suit someone’s penchant for making all things subservient to SEO:

Sign #1: Submission
The H1 title tag is crucial for SEO, and there is widespread agreement that keywords in page titles will boost your search engine results pages (SERPS). At the same time, the title of any page needs to appeal to the reader, be well written and relate to the content of the page. If you are being asked to stuff page titles with SEO keywords that are unrelated to the page content, you should take this as a warning sign your content is being (mis)used to satisfy the needs of SEO. The reason this is negative is because keyword stuffing is not only uncomfortable, but also counterproductive and will be punished by search engines. That’s because Google wants you to provide quality content to readers, and search engines do not like to be manipulated. The safety word you need to use to make this this type of domination stop is ‘quality’ – the quality of the content is more important than the number of times a keyword is featured per page.

Sign #2: Controlling Behaviour
Similar to the above, but taken to the next level. Specifically, some organizations now employ (or outsource to) web writers, who rewrite copy to optimise the content for search engines. This is all well where search optimisation is the main success criteria, but aren’t we forgetting the reader? You should write for your target audience, not for Google. And who knows your reader better: You or a web writer? Final sign off on all content should be with you. If that’s not currently the case, you need to start to say no and set some boundaries.

Sign #3: Unrealistic Expectations
SEO practitioners sometimes forget how much time and effort it takes to produce great content. If your SEO partner demands unrealistically high volumes of content and applies the (proverbial) whip when it’s not forthcoming, it’s a sure sign that they see themselves as the dominant party. To satisfy their unnatural appetites, they may also suggest a role play of sorts, which sees them producing content which has no marketing value whatsoever apart from link building and search engine optimisation.

If you have not encountered this before, read this article which explains all about auto-submitted content, paid for links and the dreaded blog spam comments: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/non-seo-bad-link-building/106009 

You should steer clear of these tactics as they will most likely not aid your SERPS, and may prove embarrassing, too. Submission, controlling behaviour and unrealistic expectations are three warning signs that someone is trying to dominate your content marketing to satisfy their SEO needs. There are additional signs (feel free to share them below), but thankfully there’s no need to devote a painful trilogy to this topic!

Apologies to everyone who thought this blog post was in any way related to that 50 Shades of Grey movie trailer!