Content Optimization vs Content Creation

Seth Godin had a pearl of wisdom in this morning’s blog post entitled “The non optimized life.”

While Yahoo was optimizing their home page in 2001, the guys at Google were inventing something totally new.

That’s one reason I resist the temptation to optimize this blog for traffic and yield. I’d rather force myself to improve it by having the guts to write better posts instead.

Being an SEO, the first thing that strikes me about this post is whether his use of the word “optimize” refers to search engine optimization or not.  I believe his use of the word may possibly include the act of search engine optimization but it doesn’t specifically mean that.  In his post, the word optimize really means improve.  If you swap out the word optimize in the portion I’ve quoted above with the word improve, you’ll see the meaning and intent of the statement remains the same.

But at the same time, I’m forced to consider the reality that “optimizing a site” as it relates to search engine optimization is really the act of modifying what has been created with the intention of improving the likelihood that the content hosted there will perform better in organic search engine results.

But in the spirit of Godin’s main point — it is better to create content than to optimize it — I ask myself which side of that coin do I want to be on?

My answer is one doesn’t get to make that choice.  Imagine an iPhone app developer who didn’t care if her app showed up in the App Store (I personally don’t think that person actually exists). I’m pretty confident that the To-Do list of every app developer includes the following two lines:

  • Create app
  • Get app included in the App Store

And if you’re in the online content creation business, your To-Do list ought to include a variation of the iPhone app developer’s list:

  • Create content
  • Ensure content can be found in search engines

Search engines are powerful content distribution mechanisms. If you care at all about distributing your content to the places where people are looking for that content, then SEO should be a natural part of your process.  You don’t have the luxury of choosing between optimization and creation.

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