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No, I'm NOT speaking out against SEO, I just think that most people spend too much time thinking about it, when in reality all the search engines are doing is trying to serve up what people want, you should follow suit. Just take a look at Google's recent updates and you will see that they are penalizing sites that are over optimized and who have poor content. Know what that tells me? Create content for your intended audience!
Start thinking in terms of social blogging. That is, think about being social more than the actual blogging. The term social blogging is thrown around a lot, blogs and social networks both being web 2.0 they kind of go hand in hand. But, I don't want you to think of it that way, I want you to think of social blogging and blogging as being two different things all together. Think of blogging as articles (magazine, newspapers and what not) and social blogging as a way to engage and create dialogue with your audience. Why? How else will you know what content they want to consume? How else will you know what their looking for? Remember, in order to please your visitors, in order to attract the right type of person that want's to buy your product or service you must first know who they are and what they want. So ask!
3 Questions That Need To Be Answered To Attract The Right Audience
Answering those questions will aid you in writing the type of content that attracts the right type of people to your site. Don't worry so much about keyword density, nofollow, image tags, relevance, title tags, and all that other stuff, it will come. What I mean by that is if you write compelling content that engages your audience, the type of content that your audience is looking for, then the traffic will come, as will the back-links and paying customers.
Blasphemy? I don't think so, SEO has it's place, it's just that too much emphasis is placed on it and as a result your content is playing to the search engines first and your audience second. All I'm saying is that it should be reversed; audience first, search engines second.
Know Thy Audience
Sometimes that's easier said than done. Do some market research. Remember that if you're targeting a diverse group that you will need to write content that speaks to a diverse group. For instance, in my posts on PersuasiveSocial, I try to bring up many different industries as examples. I've written about barber shops, print shops, car dealerships with plans to bring on many more. Also, since my core topic is social media I branch out and talk about other things that support social media, such as customer service. I've been told that customer service has nothing to do with social media and I have to chuckle, I mean, how do you plan on getting your customers to talk about you in their social graph if you give them nothing to talk about?
If you're a local business find out what your audience is interested in, what they do on the weekends and what values they hold dear. What social objects are they most interested in, that is, what is your audience interested in that is talk-worthy, influences them to want to tell others, and brings people together? Is your audience mainly men or women? Knowing these things will help you to write the type of content that speaks to the right people, that causes them to act.
If you can learn to become one of US, instead of just one of THEM, you will have a bond with your audience that will not easily be broken. What are you waiting for? Who is your audience and how can you write content that caters to their needs?
Social Media Strategist
Social Media Editor, ADM