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Can A Great User Experience Co-exist With SEO?

By Lee Odden
Expert Author
Article Date: 2011-07-07

My friend Bob Knorpp has a good piece on AdAge this week:"Why Marketers Should Break Free of the Digital Content Trap" about the fallacy of content. He makes some good points about companies going through the motions of creating and promoting content on social channels with motivations of retweets, likes, shares and links over real engagement. I have to agree where he says, "content alone is a dead end for ongoing engagement".

While many savvy online marketers don't see content as a shortsighted substitute for social strategy or simply as a SEO tactic, but a proxy to creating customer experiences, there are even more who do.  Content is a vehicle for discovery, engagement and sharing.  Content is the mechanism for storytelling and if social and search optimization are also involved in a qualitative way to aid in discovery and sharing of those stories - then all the better.

Bob makes great points about the need to think of new ways to approach digital storytelling beyond single dimensions like videos that "go viral" and infographics that spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook. Engagement is indeed more than a click, a share or a link.

In the way that many business bloggers and marketers approach online marketing with an egocentric perspective, promoting messages they want to persuade audiences with vs. empathizing with customer needs and interests, many agencies that create content are more interested in creative self expression over experiences that are truly meaningful to customers.

In our Hub / Spoke and Constellation models for content marketing, we emphasize an understanding of customer needs and behaviors through persona development and attention to variances during the buying cycle. Those insights, combined with ongoing monitoring and engagement, drive content marketing strategy and the creative mix of content objects designed to help prospects have meaningful experiences with the brand.

The content itself is made easier to discover in more relevant ways through search engine optimization and social media optimization. A "Socialize and Optimize" approach to content marketing increases the connections between consumers that are looking (i.e. searching) and discussing (social networking) topics of relevance to the brand solution.

I've said it before, great content isn't great until it's discovered, consumed and shared.  Littering the social web with scheduled Tweets, status updates and blog posts alone is not engagement and certainly not creating the kind of experience that builds brand or motivates customers to buy, be loyal or advocate.

What say you? Can great user experience and storytelling co-exist with social media marketing and SEO?


Check out TopRank Online Marketing Blog for more articles by Lee Odden

About the Author:
Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing and public relations firm in Minnesota that specializes in search, social and online PR consulting and training for companies worldwide. Odden has been cited for his internet marketing expertise over the past 10 years by the Economist, Forbes and U.S. News and contributed a chapter to the book, "Online Marketing Heroes" published by Wiley. For the past 5 years he has also been the editor of TopRank's Online Marketing Blog, a Technorati 100 favorite blog and one of the top marketing blogs according to Advertising Age.

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