Google is a living God, and we are faithful followers. If we please Google with good SEO, we will get rewarded.
You want to write content that is appealing for your audience, not for the search engines. You want to use words that resonate with your readers, not keywords that will get you better positions.
So where does SEO fit in your content marketing? There is a sweet spot between ranking in Google and keep your audience engaged. The confusion comes from mixing two stages in your funnel.
Users searching for “How to build a tiny house on wheels,” are more likely to click on a result that says “How to build a tiny house on wheels“, from buildingtinyhouses.com. That’s a no brainer. However, if you are a log cabin builder blogger, your audience -your current customers- might not be as much attracted to read a generic “How to” article about something they don’t care.
If you are writing SEO-keywords driven content, you are working on the “acquisition” stage. People who never heard about you, but people could be interested in your site. These SEO articles are your business card, your first intro to these strangers.
For your existing audience, you want them to move forward in your funnel, you want them to go through the “conversion” stage. Whether is buying your book, attending your course, or whatever is that generates revenue for you. For them, you need to write content that addresses a problem they have, something that will keep them engaged.
Google might not like it, but if your audience does, you are working towards building the most important asset: permission to keep sending them new articles.
Go beyond keywords; focus on customer-relevant words.