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Optimizing the Right Content for the Right Audience

Posted on Aug 7th, 2008
Written by Lee Odden
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    Last week I posted about situations where search engine optimization isn’t for sales and it sparked some interesting discussions. Most SEO efforts are directed towards lead generation and sales, but prospects and customers are not the only audiences for web content.

    Fundamentally, SEO is about making the search engines’ job of crawling, indexing and ranking content easier, more useful to searchers. Companies publish many types of content to many different audiences. Most SEO efforts are oblivious to anything but leads and sales because marketing is the cost center paying for the SEO consulting.

    Recently I’ve been educating public relations and corporate communications professionals at conferences like PRSA Digital Impact and Media Relations Summit on how SEO can be used specifically for news content. The intended audience are journalists and bloggers not consumers looking to buy products.

    For example, here is a typical process involving SEO for lead generation where the intention of the searcher is to find products or services and they are presented with features, benefits and a call to action. The desired outcome of that interaction is a sale or a conversion and the searcher becoming a customer or a lead:

    With news content, the target audience isn’t really people looking to buy products, although few companies would turn that traffic away from their press releases, media coverage, etc. Rather, the desired audience would be industry analysts, journalists and bloggers who are looking for sources, subject matter experts for stories they’re researching/writing. The desired outcome is not a sale, but to be selected as a topic, contributor or interviewee for an article/story published in the media.

    The additional outcomes (potentially) include a relationship with the journalist for future story considerations and the journalist/analyst/blogger now having a new, trusted resource.

    It’s an important distinction to make, optimizing the right content for the right audience but many companies and their SEO consultants tend to focus on content that can convert directly into revenue. This is a reasonable expectation but there are other types of content, communications and audiences that affect the bottom line like increasing the likelihood of getting media coverage. Valuations on each piece of media coverage can vary from $2,000 to $20,000 depending on the publication.

    Other right content/right audience opportunities for corporate web sites include: careers and jobs content, customer service content (as mentioned in my previous post), investor relations and even corporate charitable programs. Optimizing those kinds of content not just for the sales generation opportunity, but also for the specific audience will enable the company to gain far more value out of their SEO investment.

    I’ll be talking about this kind of focused content optimization specifically for news content at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. “News Search SEO” which will be moderated by Dana Todd of Newsforce and includes co-panelists Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR and Lisa Buyer of The Buyer Group. Be sure to attend this session because it’s all new information from all 3 panelists you won’t want to miss.