SEO: You Have to Know Your Search Engine to Understand How to Optimize – Content Marketing

What is Black Hat SEO vs What is Content Marketing

To understand content marketing you have to understand Google. You have to KNOW what your potential customer is looking for on Google, how many customers are there, and what words you have a chance of competing on. You have to KNOW GOOGLE to know what content to write and how to market your business with that content.

SEO is getting short shrift these days. The other night in a tech hangout we were discussing SEO and several people were speaking against the relevance of it as a practice. One rather passionate man said, “If your content is good then you don’t have to worry about SEO. SEO is dead. Influence is the thing now.”


And the self-identified SEO expert in the hangout was quick to reply, “Pure SEO is just about the search engine, the organic results, the SERP.” (SERP: search engine results page – or “how do we get our company to the first page on Google?”)


It seems like the noSEO guy was against “keywords” as irrelevant. The the proSEO girl was saying “keywords were everything.”

They are both partially right. But the problem is most likely in the definition of SEO. In SEO-girl’s mind SEO meant pure focus on SEARCH results. And she was very knowledgable about the tweaky search strings go coax very helpful information from Google about backlinks, anchor links, and other stuff.

For noSEO guy keywords mean black hat SEO techniques for loading pages with keywords and phrases just to get a high ranking on Google.

I was trying to jump in and make my case for the new definition, or rather the reframing of what we were talking about to be Content Marketing.

  • You have to be aware of the SE search traffic for specific topics if you want to write content that has the most “search-ability”
  • You also have to write great content to show up in the internet sea of spam, plagiarists, content scrapers, and poor writers.
  • Keywords and “phrase matches” are ways of identifying if people coming to Google are looking for your subject
  • Writing without SE knowledge unnecessarily dilutes your content’s findability

And through authoring great content, with great keywords and great find-ability, you might write something that begins establishing your reputation as a go-to person on your special subject.

Let me give you a recent example. I write about social media a lot. And when I put up posts I hope that people will find the information helpful and actionable, meaning that they can take some positive action as a result of reading the information I have provided. So let’s do some SEE (search engine exploration). Using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool here are the results for the term social media.

Do you talk about "social media" or "social networks"

Okay, so how can I use this information to make my posts more juicy for google search and more attractive to information seekers?

The first thing I notice is the words “social” and “network” are a lot more popular than “social” and “media.” So if I were making a pure SEO play I would simply make sure I use the phrase “social networking” and “social networks” in the Title, the URL, the H1 and H2 content, and create a lot of direct links from the phrases to other content on my blog. If we were to take it to the Black Hat practice we would load sentences with ALL of the TERMS that show up, to make sure we are found by any of the variations. Only problem is, Google is getting better and better at identifying and removing spammy SEO pages and demoting the sites that practice Black Hat “keyword stuffing.”

From a Content Marketing perspective, where I think this Search Engine Volume result from Google is so helpful, is in knowing that people prefer the phrase “social networking” over “social marketing.” If the title of my post lends itself towards that “networks” and “networking” I might use those words a bit more frequently.

Easy. Know the search volume, do some searches yourself on your subject matter. The DO optimize your SE content (a single WordPress plug-in will probably provide 90% of what you need to include for SEO). And DO use the more popular phrases and words if they are interchangeable with less popular words. And then, the most important and challenging task: WRITE KILLER CONTENT!

Footnote: Fast Company reported recently that using the word “marketing” to your posts and tweets resulted in a 5% increase in clicks, ReTweets, and Likes.

Related Concept: And for reference you will here PPC often in this “search” space. And while this isn’t the post for the full explanation, Pay-Per-Click advertising can give you very quick insight into what “keywords” will really work for you in the non-PPC or “organic” search space.

John McElhenney

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