Awards Season is upon us - in the Film/TV industry. The Academy Awards are this weekend and in my past life, I'd be busy watching lots of free movies as a voting member of some guilds and discussing who was nominated, who should win, and who got snubbed.
The discussions about who got left out of the nominations are always lively. Nominations are often subjective because there's no real way to compare actors/directors/writers/crew in an Apples-to-Apples way. It's all based on the voters of certain guilds.
Some movies are made for big box office numbers, like the Marvel movies. Others are made for the Awards circuit. Before you start shooting any film/TV show, the creative team needs to answer who the target audience is.
When it comes to SEO, sites and content can be compared to each other in an Apple-to-Apples way because it's one source, the Google algorithm, that's doing the comparing. There's no other source that the Google algo will go to and ask "Hey, what do you think of this content and site?"
The Google algo looks at the sites and content, compares them, and ranks them according to all the factors the algo takes into consideration. It's "by the book" and a mathematical equation.
But when it comes to humans reading the content and browsing the site for how good they are, we come back to a subjective way of looking at things.
The Ahrefs video referenced below takes a look at 3 writers who charge $0.02, $0.15, and $0.40 per word to see if price = quality. The range of answers is interesting and diverging, because they all have different backgrounds and perspectives.
This all brings me to the question - Who is your target audience when creating content - Google or Users?
I say you create kickass content for the Users first. Create content that's better than all the ones on the first page of the SERPs. Then you can optimize for Google.
If you create good content, Google will come.
Don't think that you need to play to Google's algorithm as your primary target audience, while sacrificing things like readability and user experience. No one knows all the ranking factors of the algorithm, so no one can fulfill the algo's criteria to consistently be #1 in the SERPs.
As Google continues to regularly update their algorithm, it's only going to get better at recognizing good content vs bad content. The good content will then rise to the top.
Maybe there's some loophole or algo issue that has a bad piece of content at the top of the SERPs today. Take solace in knowing that it won't last long.
Good content will win out in the end.