It’s a popular opinion to think that SEO is an enemy to pure, unadulterated, quality content. Many will tell you that the two can’t exist side by side. Let’s explore why some people believe that SEO ruins content and acknowledge a few valid points, and offer some counterpoints.

  1. SEO-laden content is clunky and unnatural.
  2. By focusing on search engines, users’ needs are neglected.
  3. SEO pollutes content with stilted phrases and unoriginality.

Clunky, Unnatural Content

We’ve all read content that flows like a series of search terms pieced together with conjunctions. What do we do when we find it? Usually we bounce. It’s not delivering anything of value to us and we know that immediately. Why would we stick around for content that clearly wasn’t written for us, but for the search engines?

Correction: This is a valid criticism of SEO, but what a worthwhile search engine optimizer would point out would be that good SEO will strive for well-written, informative content as opposed to hackneyed pieces of keyword copy. This is SEO that takes longevity and value into consideration instead of immediate, but temporary boosts in rankings.

Users’ Needs Are Neglected

Websites are ultimately for the users, but this is easily forgotten when there’s a middleman in charge of directing those users to your content. You will quickly learn to start writing for the middleman rather than the user. As a result, your content may miss the mark when your users finally find it.

Correction: Always have your user in mind when writing content. You should have a customer profile prepared that hypothetically answers targeted questions you would ask your ideal customer. Your content should speak to this customer, not middleman-Google. Otherwise that disconnect to your users will result in lost opportunities to make a sale or score a lead.

Uninformative Content

Blogger David Diamond states in criticism of search engine optimized content, “…websites are optimized to be found in Google search results, they’re not designed to provide any real information. The goal is to get you to fill out a form, not to help you make a purchase decision or learn.”

The error in this statement lies in the fact that the goal to “get you to fill out a form” won’t succeed unless the content does offer something of a value to the user. A profitable customer is an educated customer. Bad content fails to convert, and website owners and optimizers are learning this. So is Google. Google’s algorithms are changing to account for quality content over quantity of content.

Correction: When you begin a piece of marketing, web, or blog content, consider what story you’re about to tell. Consider the pain points you’re addressing and the solutions you’re communicating. Consider literary devices you might use to illicit a logical, emotional, or ethical response from your readers. Writing effective content is an art form that requires an understanding of what persuades us as human beings to take action or adopt certain opinions.

What are your greatest issues with the misuse or misinterpretation of SEO?


Diamond, David. “SEO is Killing Content Quality.” (December 12, 2014.)