Can content creators and SEO experts get along?

Sooner or later, content marketers will experience the periodic spat that erupts between content creators and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals.

Content creators claim that SEO interferes with their ability to write creative, attention-grabbing headlines. SEO consultants claim that content creators are wrong to believe creativity alone will draw readers to one’s web content.

Who is right? My answer: they are both missing the point.

Witty, pun-laden headlines can coexist with seemingly dry, SEO-optimized, headlines. These two ideas are not opposing forces. My job as an SEO expert is to facilitate information — to provide a clear path from your potential search engine audience to your content.

If your audience is coming from search engines, and you know they will benefit from a provocative headline, then consider a technical solution that could satisfy both needs:

* Emphasize the attention-grabbing headline visually through an H1 header tag while displaying the SEO-optimized headline below that with an H2 header tag.

* Use the SEO-optimized headline in the title tag.

While my suggestion may not be the optimal solution from an SEO standpoint, it will allow your content to be indexed in the engines the way your audience will likely search. Doing so will also provide the desired emphasis on the fun headline your readers may know you for.

Allow me to break this down in a similar analogy.

Many restaurant and entertainment sites love Flash to a point where they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot from an SEO perspective. While there are ways to keep a Flash-dependent site crawable to the search engines, the best way to keep your site SEO-optimized is to not use Flash and to create a static site in HTML.

Do you see what I wrote? Did I tell all Flash sites that they should switch everything from Flash to HTML? No. Did I say it was impossible to have a Flash site indexed by the search engines? No.

There is always more than one way to employ SEO skills to attract visitors while understanding the unique nature of each business.

Of the many rules I’ve learned over the years of working in the SEO world, I believe these three “golden rules” resonate especially:

* SEO should not dictate business rules.

* SEO should always provide value to your audience.

*  There are no absolutes.

Great content can and does rank perfectly fine outside of the best practices of SEO. A seasoned SEO consultant will suggest ways to draw in an audience while keeping an eye on the “golden rules.”

SEO experts will always suggest best practices but see obstacles as opportunities to flex their creative SEO muscle. — Derek Thopy

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