The Secret to Search Engine Optimization: It’s About the Content, Stupid!

success Works logo That’s the key word from veteran SEO expert Heather Lloyd-Martin

SEO is not about creating a website sausage overstuffed with key words and phrases. It’s all about creating relevant and compelling content that transforms you into a thought leader who can become a trusted provider That is ultimately how you convert visitors into buyers

Of course, this is gospel for me and many content marketers. But, it is still poorly understood by many marketers and SEO practitioners who swear that cramming a ton of “search engine friendly” words and phrases deemed into every nook and cranny of your website will place you high on the results page.

So, I was both encouraged and inspired by Heather Lloyd-Martin’s recent post. She has been helping clients get great search results for more than a decade. Since Heather does search engine optimization for a living, it’s wonderful to hear her say that it’s ultimately all about the content.

As Heather writes in a great post on Success Works:

SEO copywriting “techniques” – as they are commonly understood today – represent a bastardized version of copywriting that’s not good for customers, not good for users and serves up pure schlock.  I am tired of seeing top-Tweeted posts that say you should “include your keyword at least 15 times in your copy,” or “put all the keywords at the top of the page so the search engines can see them.”  I am beyond miffed when I hear prospects say, “I want you to write a bunch of pages for the search engines. I don’t want people to actually read them.” The amount of misinformation out there is enormous.

Heather then adds: “What’s sad is that people are accustomed to keyword-stuffed, overoptimized copy as “normal” SEO copywriting. They don’t know that good copywriting is seamless and benefit-driven. That savvy SEO copywriting, in the brilliant words of Lisa Barone, is supposed to entice, entertain, engage and educate.”

She concludes with a suggestion that warms my heart:

Instead, why don’t we, as marketing professionals, embrace the term “SEO content marketing.”  The term “content marketing” implies an ongoing process – not a one-off Web page written for high rankings. “Content marketing” implies that there is a strategy behind the process. And it’s also more encompassing.  “Copywriting” often elicited thoughts of “sales-oriented writing” – while “content marketing” could mean blog posts, articles, press releases – even Twitter posts.

As Heather makes clear, content marketing should be fundamental to any search engine optimization program. She gives us yet one more, very important reason to start implementing your comprehensive content marketing strategy today.

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  1. Posted August 14, 2009 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much, Newt, for profiling this blog post. I just finished presenting at Search Engine Strategies where I talked about SEO copywriting and content marketing strategy. It’s both encouraging and depressing to hear people say, “Oh, you mean that writing good content is MORE than just keyphrases?” Then again, kudos to conferences like SES that help spread the word that *quality* content is what counts – not random pages designed exclusively for search engine positioning.

    Thanks again!

  2. Newt Barrett
    Posted August 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Heather, it was my pleasure. All too often, I have clients and prospects who think some magic combo of keywords will rank them #1 on search engines. So, I was delighted to see your vindication of the importance of content at the core.

  3. Posted August 14, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Newt, content is still king. It always has been. It may be harder than heck to create it, but those who do reap the rewards.

    As a real estate agent business goes through slow and busy spells. My slow spells are about content and it’s paid off 1,000 fold.

    I’m so glad I’m a nerd sometimes. :)

  4. Posted August 25, 2009 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks Newt for this post. This quote explains the value of content and also the value of those who can offer the quality of content. Fiorenza “That savvy SEO copywriting, in the brilliant words of Lisa Barone, is supposed to entice, entertain, engage and educate.”

  5. Newt Barrett
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Fiorenza, thanks for taking the time to comment. Great content isn’t easy to create but is well worth the effort.

  6. Posted August 26, 2009 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I think we all agree that it is always about well written and credible content in terms of the user experience and value provided by the website. However as long as the search engines are programmed to look for certain things within that content in order to deed it “relevant” then as SEO experts we will need to find the blend between serving both masters. Searchers don’t serendipitously just find our beautiful prose. While e-word of mouth and other viral sharing can help, the fact is that most people find the content they are looking for via search. And for those who are not necessarily looking for your specific content, no matter how well written, without the use of keywords and SEO writing techniques, your ability to get that content into more hands is limited.
    As the search engines get smarter (semantic search, Wolfram Alpha, Bing’s “decision engine”) and individuals start engaging more in influencing search results, perhaps the standard SEO writing guidelines will become less important. But for now, there are things that SEO Experts do to increase the likelihood that your site and your content, good or bad, will be seen and this has value to web content owners working to get more exposure to their websites.