Marketing vs SEO

A search engine attempts to identify whether your content is relevant by comparing it to all the other potentially relevant documents for that term.

It has no choice, since it doesn't understand English, French, Chinese or whatever the documents happen to be written in - it just counts words and compares results.

The net result is that a search engine will define "relevant" as something that talks about a subject in the same manner that other sites on the subject talk about it. It then relies on link analysis to sort it out from there.

The good news is that this identifies most spam fairly quickly, and also identifies on-topic documents pretty well.

The bad news is that spam written using pseudo-natural syntax will often pass the relevancy filter, and very well written information that approaches a subject from a different angle than normal, or uses more technical or less well known words to describe a subject may be judged as less relevant, when in fact it might be far superior.

In the case of the far superior content, although it would get dinged as originally being less relevant, the search engine will attempt to take into account human opinion by looking at links. This is why links will often trump content. The search engine is hoping to reward exceptional material it can't understand simply by comparing it to its peers.

This is a built in limitation of using a computer to do search - it rewards mediocrity in the content because mediocrity is easier to measure.

Basically, the larger the data-set, the more confident you are in your conclusion. The largest data set comes from the largest pool - i.e. the "average". Therefore your content is judged based on comparing it to the average, rather than the spectacular. This works well for content that is inherently informative, but not so well for content that is inherently creative in nature.

This type of analysis worked very well back when the searching on the web was primarily for information. However, when commercial sites came along, so did marketing.

Marketing is inherently creative. Great marketing is distinguished by not following the norm. Great marketing doesn't pay much attention to search engine algorithms; it attempts to speak to the consumers needs and dreams.

This is a problem for SEO's and one reason why the best SEO's are generally creative people, not technicians or search scientists. They need to work with both sides of the equation - the technical side gets you rankings and visitors, but the side that speaks to people's souls also speaks to their wallets.

Therefore a good SEO will attempt to compensate for this problem by using one or more methods:

1. First, the SEO will attempt to make the document match the relevancy criteria the search engine is looking for simply by adding in keywords and related terms and phrases. In short, use "natural" writing combined with knowledge of keywords and search engine behavior.
This works most of the time because a great many relevant pieces of content are solid information pieces, not artistic masterworks. You can make solid information SEO friendly while maintaining (and usually improving) the writing. This is where a good SEO copywriter really shines.

The very best can take information and make it speak to a consumers needs and dreams while still being search engine friendly, but it's an art, not a science.

2. If the document can't be changed, or if it would be a crime against common sense to do so (for example, taking someone’s poetry and making it "seo-friendly" would ruin it - it would no longer be the same poem) then you have to be more creative and work with titles, anchor text, linking, and so forth in order to compensate for the search engine's inability to appreciate the work's artistic merits. This requires a more technical SEO approach.

The best ranking sites match a search engines expectation for what a good site should be. The best converting sites match the consumer’s expectations for what a good site would be. The best SEO's understand this and work to accomplish both goals at the same time.


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