Messages are more important than keywords

We all want our content to be on the front page of Google’s search results. And for good reason, 71% of Google searches result in a click on a page one listing. In our quest, we learn about SEO tactics, and how our content can include keywords and phrases to make it possible for our audience to find us.


What we sometimes forget is that messages are different than keywords. They’re the key thoughts you want your audience to remember after reading your content. They’re the power bits of the stories you tell. Their focus is on audience insight, rather than search result orientation.

Writing keyword-rich or keyword-optimized content is a junior technique to use for your content marketing. It used to work. Ten years ago. Now, we should be focusing on messages instead.

Messages in content are also known as:

  • Main points
  • Highlights of a story
  • Your “interpretation”
  • What you remember

Google knows about content that tries to game the system. If you get caught using too many black hat SEO techniques (such as stuffing your content with keywords), your website can be penalized. It’s possible that Google could even ban your site from appearing in any search results!

How do we go about SEO then?

After all, it isn’t unrealistic to want to be on the front page and it’s not impossible either. The answer is messages.

Consider how Google thinks. They want to provide the best experience for their users above anything else. This means providing the best content related to what their users are searching for, rather than what others are optimizing for.

Take a minute to think about some content that you enjoyed, that you were interested and engaged in. I bet it contained powerful messages that led to a great experience. You remember it still now! This is what Google wants to provide to their users.

When we look at SEO tactics, we categorize potential optimizations into two categories: on-page and off-page (what happens on vs. off your site). And there is significant debate on which optimizations matter.

For on-page factors, the navigation, speed, and ease of use of your site matter. If Google can’t crawl your site, they’ll have a hard time indexing it. And, if your site is low or visitors have trouble viewing it, Google would also see this as a bad experience.

But, the biggest on-page factor is the content itself – never forget that!

Off-page factors include your content’s activity on social media (shares, likes, retweets) and other websites that link to your page. We get real activity by having awesome content! If you think about content you share, you enjoyed it, or it got a reaction out of you. The messages spoke to you.

If you repeat effective messages, they convert followers to customers.

A big part of communication is consistency. By repeating your messages, you can reinforce the main themes of your campaigns. It helps your audience form thoughts about your brand on top of your content.

And, if you’re the best at getting messages out that your audience enjoys through awesome content, your followers will share your content, and Google will return the favour. Boom! Full circle.