Is SEO Content Different from General Content – Let’s Start the Debate

Hi Friends, This is my first blog and I think this is the best time to start off one. Today I am feeling so proud and happy to arrive at a conclusion for a long time confusion.

“Is SEO Content Different from General Content”. I think this is a great topic to run a debate with writers and SEO’s. Oh! How many answers can I expect actually?……. I am a victim of such a debate and finally they asked me “What is SEO” “How the content has to be for SEO”? Then I was stuck, my mind was blank and I have to shut my mouth.  Do you know why???

Because it is hard to explain SEO to an amateur.

Oh I lost the point from where I started. Do you think there is any difference between SEO content and general content, If Yes why??? And If No why??? My answer is “NO” but for proving this point I posted a question in Quora and to my surprise I got replies from famous SEO personalities to SEO Gurus. Carson Ward, SEO Consultant at Distilled replied:

Content has different goals, which can include the following:

Direct sales: Obvious – most pages on retailers like Amazon.

Branding: Content that establishes the brand highlights the strength and sticks with the tone of the company. Companies that focus on branding end up with sites that reflect their brand. A fun tone/brand leads to a fun site, where companies like GE and P&G end up with really professional (boring) sites.

Links: The content that generally works best for acquiring links are pieces that writers and editors will cite. It could be an infographic, a piece of research your company did, a news-worthy item, awe-inspiring picture galleries, etc. What works best varies by the type of site you’re trying to get links on.

Social shares: Content designed to be shared socially often offers a “quick fix” of something funny. Also best if interesting, useful, and emotionally

Customer service: Resource and help sections usually accomplish this goal. Content can take the form of video, FAQ, or step-by-step guidance. Sometimes other sections of the site address timely customer service issues.

News coverage: Press materials and releases are the most common form of news-seeking content, but it’s no uncommon to see announcements on blogs, or news-related content that also aims to get links.

Some people still think of SEO content as keyword-packed content written around a specific keyword and variations thereon. That kind of stuff doesn’t work well anymore. For most long tail keywords, there’s already a piece of content out there. Modern-day SEO is about making better, more useful content, and getting people to share it.

“SEO content” in a modern context may be best defined as content that is made to get links. It can also accomplish several of the other goals. For example, content that is designed to get links is often (but not always) also well-suited to get attention on social networks.

I disagree with the notion that you should just create good stuff. That’s only one part of it. You’ll accomplish the goals of more organic traffic if you focus on building content that content creators will want to link to and then seeking awareness with that group.

You can see the entire discussion here.

From his answer it is clear that “SEO Content” is no more a “keyword-stuffed, low-quality, cheap content” and we should not differentiate it from highly “researched content”. This doesn’t mean that Content cannot have any keywords, but it comes in a natural way. The main step in improving the website ranking factor is to ensure that it contains good quality relevant content with keywords placed appropriately and it appears naturally.

Douglas Karr CEO of DK New Media and founder of the Marketing Technology Blog says:

Usage of keywords, platform, speed, hierarchy and page structure are still a means to optimizing content. The issue is whether you’re UNNATURALLY modifying your content to focus on SEO or if you’re NATURALLY producing content that people will share and search engines can read. If we had a choice with our customers – we’d rather they write great content. A fantastic page or post will STILL get ranked for the keywords that someone wants it to. The best case scenario is to do BOTH. We’re not saying abandon good SEO, we’re just advising people to worry about their audience first and optimization next.

In the new SEO world you don’t even need the keywords in the article body to rank for a keyword. The best thing is to write a great post, users sharing it naturally and adding their comments, generating traffic from social networks, the post gets noticed by Google and then Google rearranges its search result page to make space for the new engaging content.

Eg: For the keyword “SEO Guru” the top result on Google is Mani Karthik’s post 25 SEO Gurus You Should Follow on Twitter, even though he used the word SEO Guru only once in the title of the post and it doesn’t appear in the body of the post. Here you can check out what Mani said about this How I rank NO.1 on Google for “SEO GURU” with no SEO!

 

The quality guidelines of Google clearly says:

Quality guidelines – basic principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Everything and Anything we post on our website is for Users and not for Search Engines. The actual competitor in SEO is “Our Content” Vs “Competitors Content” quotes my colleague Ashwin Kumar (@ashwinatwork).

The two videos here talks about how you can create quality content which improves engagement:

Creating great content that performs well in Google search results

  • The video clearly describes how great content helps in SE rankings


Download with Vixy | YouTube Converter | Replay Media Catcher

What is the ideal keyword density of a page?

  • In this video Matt Cutts clearly describes what is keyword density? Is it important in SEO? and how to dispel all the misconceptions.


Download with Vixy | YouTube Converter | Replay Media Catcher

I think it is good if I mention the names of some websites which were affected by panda update initially. Google’s Panda update affected low quality sites.

Google Panda affected article sites

Mainly article websites has been affected by the Panda update of Google because of their extra “focus” on low quality, keyword rich and over optimized content.

Small advice for the writers

Writers: You are doing a great job, spending lot of time in creating quality content. Kudos to you guys!!!  But before going to start off a new project always remember that you are writing to attract and engage users and try to include keywords naturally.

Before concluding let’s have a word about “Content Marketing”. In these days we frequently use the term “Content is King”. Some people took it wrong. They assume that content marketing means generating  lots of content with some even writing 3 to 4 blog posts a day. To me content marketing means generating great content that engages my target users. The marketing in content marketing is also often misunderstood. It is not about just sharing your blog post on Facebook and Twitter. To get noticed your content should be promoted in other relevant websites. Let people discover the content by using services like Outbrain.

Thus I arrived at a clear conclusion on “SEO Content” –

Quality Content + Genuine Sharing + Natural Links + Traffic Signals = WIN = SEO Content.

Hmm, Is my blog post worth sharing ;)

I heartily welcome your suggestions and doubts. Please feel free to add comments…………….

Thanks………….

  • http://www.macsupportcentre.com.au/ Michael

    Yup, it is worth sharing really :)

    • Anju Mohan

      Thanks for sharing Michael :)

  • Shweta Vijaykumar

    Hi Anju,

    This was a really good read. As a content creator/marketer, what I have understood from your write-up is that we can’t call content ‘SEO content’, we can only call it SEO worthy content,
    that too after seeing how the content performed across all these hurdles and not beforehand.

    Thanks.

    • Anju Mohan

      Spot on..!

  • Krishna

    Great post..
    Gives us clear insights in to the need for quality and relevant content that interests readers rather than manually optimize the content to reach the readers!!

    • Anju Mohan

      Thanks Krishna

  • http://iiomm.com/about/founder/ Sudhir Sreenivasan

    Hi,

    I totally agree with the views expressed by Anju. Especially after the Panda & Penguin Updates, there is a different meaning for SEO Content.

    Best,

    Sudhir

    • Anju Mohan

      Thanks for agreeing my point.

      Yes, through Google’s Panda and Penguin updates the meaning of “SEO Content” completely changed and “Google” has started thinking like “Humans” and Content should be for users not for search engines.

  • Nikhil Raj

    Great Post Anju! SEO has evolved. It is not about keyword stuffing any more. It is all about a website providing great user experience. Panda and Penguin and all the other zoo animals look for great content with user engagement to rank in search results. But having great content alone will not help. So what is SEO? Think it this way. SEO is about having a website that can be easily crawled by search engine bots, the website speed, not more than 100 links on a page etc. People won’t read a great content which is hosted on a site that takes 20 seconds to load..! This is why optimization is important. We call it SEO because users want to find good, authority websites on the top of search results. See the end result is to help the user. What they look to find is not some thing that is filled with keywords. Google is also moving in the right path by reducing the weight (Google uses more than 500 factors for ranking purposes) given to backlinks, keyword density etc. The point is search engines will not buy your products/services, but the users will. So make content for the users..!

  • https://twitter.com/liza_seo Liza

    Awesome write up Anju! Gone are the days of stuffing keywords in an article. Yes you are right, the content should be written for the readers and not the Search engines.

  • Bisileesh.P.B

    Great post Anju..!

  • http://www.contentcrossroads.com Revathi Krishna

    Anju – way to go! I am still reeling from the SEO discussion we had last week, and this post certainly clears the air – at least, some of it! So while clients do ask us for SEO content, and send us keywords to include, I think they also mean to say – “I want SEO worthy content, but written well, with creative insights into my product/service”.

    Thanks again for this post. Now for my next question that you can address in your second blog – What replaces SEO? I am even afraid to say that word now!!!

  • Carson Ward

    Hi Anju,

    You gave some great points for writers, and I’d just add one – make sure you’re appealing to an emotion. Whether you want your writers to feel anger over an injustice or passion about a hobby, make sure that you know what you want readers to feel as you write. Thanks for the mention :)

    • Anju Mohan

      Thanks for the comment Carson. You gave one more view point to this discussion.