Last week in this space, I posed the musical question, "Are You Optimizing for Search Engines or for Customers?" Then, on Friday, I continued this theme in my talk at Search Insider Summit by focusing on the choice between search engine optimization vs. customer connection. One reporter summed it up as "search marketers need an attitude adjustment," which might be true, but I want to go a bit further.

I want to be clear about the choice here. It's not a choice about whether you optimize your Web site for search or not. Clearly, you need to use those techniques. What I am asking is whether you are only using those techniques and nothing else.

In my talk Friday, I posed a list of things to do for improving your search marketing campaign:

  • Discovering the most popular keywords.
  • Using those keywords in your copy.
  • Conducting link campaigns to get links to your pages.

That's not terribly controversial advice, but suppose you had a somewhat different list:

  • Discover what your customers want.
  • Provide the information they need.
  • Create information so useful that other sites link to your pages.

President Clinton Shakes my Hand

Image by Litandmore via Flickr

The lists sound almost the same. Almost. The difference is in the attitude. The first list is a bunch of ways to optimize your site for the search engines while the second list is a way to connect with your customers that goes beyond technical search activities.

Again, it's not a choice between optimizing your site and not optimizing it. It's a choice in how you spend your time. If you only think with an optimization perspective, you're likely to miss the ways you can be helpful to your customer that don't fit neatly into search optimization. Home Depot has posted hundreds of how-to videos on their Web site and YouTube, knowing that by answering customer questions that they'll increase sales. Does this tactic help their search rankings? Yes, but that probably was not the primary motivator.

Think about how you can connect with your customers with better content that truly helps them by answering their questions. That content will be found by searchers, too. It's likely that some of those customers will stick around and buy from you.

April 20, 2010

Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.

Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.

Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.


I think it is fair to say by helping customers you are helping search engines. With videos and images search engines might need little bit more help but overall both should be treated the same. Make sure your customer is taking care of and in return search engine will take care of you.

Definitely write for your customers / users.

I've seen a thousand one articles written purely for their (perceived) SEO benefit. The result, more often that not, is just spam.

"Are You Optimizing for Search Engines or for Customers?" - This is not question really, your optimizing for search engines because you want traffics to your websites and you need customers.

I've got some tips "Traffic = Money" =)

Best way is to write for your users and customer and keep yourself as customer and check whats delivering

One more thing that you can involve your team to read and comment

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Search Engine Optimization vs. Customer Connection