What Seth Godin can teach you about SEO content

Heart puzzleTell me if this sounds familiar.

The marketing and SEO teams brainstorm the keyphrases, do the research and determine the keywords that represent strong content opportunities. Then, the writing team takes over and writes 500-word articles on “How to find the right cataraft for your trip,” or “Why Pilates reformer classes help people with back injuries.”

This process is technically accurate. But it doesn’t capture the essence of creating commanding SEO content. It’s a piece of the puzzle – but it’s not the whole puzzle.

What you really want to ask is: How can your content help people to change?

This difference struck me as I was reading a comment by Matthew Newman on this blog post. He quoted Seth Godin as saying:

“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.”

Certainly, the “someone” would be your target reader (if you don’t have a customer persona document, you need to implement this step before writing another word.)

But let’s talk about change.  Here’s the reality:

The content you create – whether you are a B2B or B2C – can help your readers make changes they want to make. In fact, the more your content prompts that change, the more successful your site will be.

Deep, yes. But think about it…

Buying behavior is driven by emotion, pure and simple. The unspoken question during every buying decision is how can this product or service help the purchaser:

  • Make more money
  • Feel superior
  • Feel sexier
  • Relieve themselves of guilt
  • Calm fears
  • (And a host of other emotions)

Sure, we say that our buy process is rational and logical. But that’s just what we tell ourselves. We don’t cancel our cable because of FOMO (fear of missing out.) We buy the anti-aging cream because we want to feel young and sexy. We invest in the get-rich-quick scheme because – well – the possibility of having unlimited funds feels powerful.

We buy solutions (not things and not services) that lead us closer to how we want to feel. We want more happiness, less fear and a whole lot of peace of mind.

Commanding SEO content taps into these fears, hopes and desires. Because that’s where the “change agent” lives. It’s not in the readers’ rational brains. It’s deep, deep down.

Rather than writing another dull buying guide, think about your reader. Really think about what turns her on, what makes her happy and what inspires her. That changes the focus from “write another guide” to “help someone make a change.”

The key to this is telling stories – stories you know will resonate with your reader.

If you’re writing about Pilates reformer classes for back injuries, you could share how people are finally living pain free – without drugs – for the first time in years. All they did is take a couple classes a week for three months. Interviews, video and before and after shots can help prompt that change (getting people to sign up for their first class.)

If you’re writing about catarafts, help the person feel the strength and security of the raft as it careens through Class IV Grand Canyon rapids. Pictures, stories and highly descriptive text can make your case (and help someone feel like they can make it through the Canyon successfully.)

It’s all about how you frame your writing.

Isn’t it fun helping people make a change?

Is it time for a change? Learn how my SEO copywriting services and my customized training solutions can help your company.



11 replies
  1. Matt coffy says:

    Best post I have read Ina while on SEO. All this is well known, but tough to pull off in a priced out world. I think the website needs this more than anything.. Most people don’t even have websites with any Emotional content, before the blogs!

  2. Cecil says:

    Hey Heather, Nice post, driven by emotion. You are a good analyst. Keep driving with emotion and sure your persuasion rules.

    Thanks and Keep it on…

  3. Jill Whalen says:


    And a related thing I teach people to think about when writing SEO content is that the person you are writing to was a doing a search at the other end of Google. So you already know that they have a specific need or desire or want, as that’s probably what they used as their search query.

    Then all you have to do is use that information to fulfill the need as this article suggests!

  4. Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    @Cecil – thank yo so much! It was a fun post to write. :)

    @Jill – exactly! People typically don’t search for fun (well, maybe us search geeks do…but normal people don’t!) :) They’re searching for a reason. The key is to know the “why” behind the search and – as you said – fulfill the need.

    Great seeing you on my blog. Thanks for your comment! :)

  5. Blake Denman says:

    Great post, Heather!

    The examples you used for telling compelling stories were great.

    In this age of “content marketing” we sometimes get lost in the true purpose of it.



  6. Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

    @Blake – thank you so much! It’s easy to get lost in the content marketing confusion – you are so right. I’m glad my post served as a reminder of what good SEO content *really* is (and does!).


  7. Syed says:

    Very good post. Thought provoking. It can become quite an interesting task to write content when we focus on making people make a change. The whole writing task now seems challenging rather than dull and boring.


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