Search Engine Marketers: Serve The Algorithm or The Readers? – GM 42

In this week’s Grey Matters, let’s talk about why search engine marketers should be serving readers, not the algorithm, in creating content.

Search Engine Marketers and YouTube Algorithm Blues

[0:00] – Introducing this episode of the Grey Matters podcast: Serving the algorithm vs. serving the audience.

  • One of the points that can cause the most stress in a content creator’s business is staring at a content calendar, looking several weeks out, and deciding what content to start producing, to be able to be sending out within a couple of weeks. 
  • When content creators choose the type of content, stories, and messages that they want to deliver, it’s easy to fall into a certain trap. 

[2:12] – The biggest trap that content creators face.  

  • Some content creators focus too much on the key performance indicators that allow them to measure each aspect of their content. 

  • Optimizing content for algorithmic success may not always be in the best interest of the community, especially if search engine optimization, analytics, and keywords take precedence over creating content that’s actually valuable to the community.

[10:09] – Why prioritizing traction may be the wrong way for many creators to create content.

  • As far as views, revenue, subscribers, and interactions are concerned, this approach certainly works. If you follow that model and pay attention to what the YouTube algorithm and YouTube SEO research tell you, you’ll achieve these goals.

  • However, getting down and understanding the challenges that your community specifically faces, and then creating content to serve them, is what you should be doing, if that’s what you set out to do when you started your own content channel. How to get money from YouTube views, for instance, should not be your priority if your mission is to help your audience.

[12:26] – Why it all comes down to intent.

  • Many tend to create content that does not have intent behind it.

  • The intent that many content creators have is growth, is revenue, is impact. For those people, creating content that's based on search results and analytics is the absolute way to go. 

  • But for people whose intent is community building is for people who are creating content with the intent of serving a cohort of serving a following, the analytics aren't always going to be the answer. 

  • There is and will be a time to incorporate the analytics, but it's not at the lead end of the decision cycle. It's at the tail end, once you've already determined on the content that you're going to be creating.

  • Real community leaders should have their finger on the pulse of what's important to their community at any one time. They should be engaging in constant conversation and dialogue with their community, and should be empathetic towards their community's needs and challenges. 

[13:40] – Intuitively having a sense of what our community needs from us. 

  • The first job of a content creator is creating content that serves their community. 

  • The second most important job of a content creator is shining a light on that content, because the algorithm won’t just recognize relevant pieces of content for the community. 

[17:10] – Guide questions for content creation, and the things that should be taken into consideration.

  • The first thing: trends, and staying top of mind. 

  • The next level: understanding past successes in one’s content

  • Being in touch with the community and asking, “What do I feel good about? What about when I start thinking about a topic? What do I get excited about sharing?”


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Reading and understanding your metrics is so important. Measuring your success and shortcomings through Google analytics, or YouTube's excellent analytics is often what separates success from failure.

Not a day goes by that I do not pour over our numbers, gaining insight into what is working and what is not working. 

Analytics is our window into how the Algorithm is working. 

The Algorithm determines how widely distributed our content is. 

Serving the Algorithm just makes good business sense. If you pay attention to what is trending, and the value of that content, you can and will be successful with your content strategy.

But, is it in the overall best interest of our community for us to make serving the Algorithm our prime focus?

I think not!

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