Is your corporate ego messing up your SEO content?

Woman writing for ego

Is your SEO content all about you?

A common SEO content marketing mantra is “Write for your reader.”

The challenge is, many companies have no idea what the heck that means. All they know is that they “should write lots of content.” Because “writing content helps get better Google rankings.”

Sure, the ranking benefits of SEO writing are important. I can’t deny that. But let’s pull SEO off the table for a second and ask the question…

Who are you writing for? Your ego? Or the people who can actually pay you money?

Long before Google, experienced copywriters would dive deep – very deep – into the readers’ psyche. We’d figure out what made them tick, what kept them up at night and how we can help solve their problems.

(If you’ve ever watched Don Draper’s client pitches on Mad Men, that’s exactly what he does. He’s a master at knowing what buttons to push.)

But then, SEO copywriting came to town. And companies started believing that the old writing rules no longer applied. It wasn’t about the customer anymore. It was about the Big G.

If you want to create commanding SEO content (and I know you do,) you need to break free of ego-based writing.

Here’s how to tell the difference between the two mindsets.

If you’re writing SEO content for your ego…

– Your top concern is getting Google rankings. Always.
– You don’t poll your readers and ask what they want to know more about.
– You don’t tap into common questions customer service responds to every day and use those topics as blog post ideas.
– Your sales copy is full of “me me me” statements. There’s not a lot of focus on benefits.
– You aren’t reviewing what your competitors are doing and learning from them (gasp – learning from a competitor? How COULD you?) :)
– You don’t care if people engage with your writing. High bounce rates are just fine.
– You write the way you want to write, dammit! You’ve never tried altering your site’s “voice” because that’s not the way you do things.

If you’re writing for your readers…

– You look at your bounce rates and see how you can make the pages even better.
– You can easily talk about your reader profile (or profiles) and the content they like to read.
– You’ve actually asked your readers what they want to read about. And you give them what they want.
– If the site’s “voice” wasn’t working, you’d rewrite the content – even if that meant hiring an outside source and spending money to make it happen.
– Your sales copy is reader-focused, with a very helpful, benefit-oriented slant.
– Although you write with SEO content best practices in mind, your first priority is making your reader smile – not a #1 Google ranking.

It’s time for your company to check your corporate ego at the door. That means going back to the basics and doing what  works – know your readers and give them what they want to read – the way they want to read it.

Next week, I’ll be sharing a little bit more about how to make that happen. Stay tuned!

What are your biggest challenges around in-house content writing? I’d love to read your comments!

Does your company want to create great content – but you aren’t sure how? I can show you how easy it is – really! Learn more about my customized SEO copywriting training.



10 replies
  1. Cela DeLaRosa says:

    Really appreciate this article, Heather! Too often the “marketing message” dictated by corporate is not what the customer cares about. It’s much better to offer customers a solution to a problem than to tell them how great your company is.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      So true, @Cela. Yet, many companies really seem to love the corporate chest-thumping. They think it drives business – when it actually drives people away. That’s definitely not the message they want to send!

  2. Amy C. Teeple says:

    Love this Heather.

    I discuss this with clients all the time. Many of them get it, some don’t. And, of course, some say they get it, but they then rewrite my copy to inject more about them and less about their target market. Many also get stuck on the features vs benefits discussion.

    I love using the We We Monitor/Calculator ( It is an easy way to show clients if they are talking about themselves too much.

  3. Matthew Newnham says:

    Spot-on as ever, Heather! And to really make the copy about the reader, it seems to me the question is, “What is the highest immediate value we can provide our visitors?”

    Here’s what Seth Godin has to say about this: The only reason to build a website is to change someone. If you can’t tell me the change and you can’t tell me the someone, then you’re wasting your time.

    If you get all of this right, if you have a clear, concise point of view, then you get the chance to focus on virality, on social, on creating forward motion. But alas, virtually all organizational sites are narcissistic and (at the same time) afraid and incomplete.

    Answer your visitor when he asks, “Why am I here?”

    P.S. @ Amy C. Teeple: I LOVE the We We Monitor!

  4. craig wright says:

    Yeah, but what about when your audience are into the whole dull, lifeless, jargon-riddled corporate nonsense? Trying to write for those people, or tech specialists for that matter, can quickly drain the life out of you. Some of them don’t want anything creative, and indeed, can feel alienated/annoyed by creative copy. There are robotic, literal and humourless people out there and they need writing too. Unfortunately.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      LOL. That’s so true. There are some companies that are very wary of anything that sounds “marketing-like” – they don’t like it, they don’t trust it and they don’t want it on their pages.

      I have had excellent luck turning some of those companies around…and they’ve later thanked me. But wow. It can be a process. :)

  5. robertbullock says:

    Absolutely. People are “what’s-in-it-for-me” oriented and only take notice when you’ve got something intelligent and meaningful to communicate, that’s relevant and valuable to them. Content creation must be approached from that standpoint. Accomplish that — first and foremost — then you can state your business value proposition.

  6. Shital Bhalani says:

    I tried to keep it fairly basic, yet provide enough information to illustrate my point of strong content and SEO are both critical.

    I do agree that I made a mistake in not describing my B2B website client a bit more. I didn’t want to give to much away so it was obvious how I was talking about, but I could of provided additional details.


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