This is a guest post from Geoffery Mullings, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder at The Blinker

As fast and as accurate as new technology allows us to be, there’s still little to replace a deep understanding of who it is your product serves, and how you can serve them better.

That came to mind when an acquaintance approached me with an idea that seemed too good to work. He assured me that our NYC news site, The Blinker, wasn’t reaching potentially the most amount of readers it could, and he had just the solution we needed.

It’s no secret, we need to reach more readers – it’s a problem common to start-ups and experienced publications alike. But his solution was questionable: for a nominal fee, he promised to get our news site in front of hundreds of people daily. How? Well, through the wonders of SEO marketing, he confidently claimed, it would only be a matter of time before his program had us placed as a top ranking website on search engines.

The power of SEO to bring your product to the consumer is undeniable. We’ve used SEO strategies very successfully, but the idea of suddenly just having “hundreds” of readers didn’t sound complete. I had to ask questions.

Finally I realized the catch, or better yet the flaw in my solicitor’s thinking. He understood a firm’s need to reach consumers, but he didn’t understand the need to reach valuable consumers. To him, every publisher just wanted to reach people, and our news site was no different in that sense.

But we wanted more than that, and you should too. Here’s why: reaching hundreds of people sounds great on the surface, but what’s the value of those readers? Generally, SEO could net us 600 additional readers daily, but if they’re all from Wichita, Kansas, what’s the likelihood any of them will engage deeply with a NYC news site, let alone engage our advertisers? How many will revisit us, subscribe to our RSS feed, or follow us on social networks?

A valuable consumer finds value in what you offer, and will either return for more or maximize the utility you give them. They’re not unattainable from SEO, but SEO without a precise idea of which consumers are valuable and therefore worth reaching can waste a lot of time – and money.

You learn in communication to always know who your target audience is, and the challenge is no different in marketing. Understanding which demographic you offer the most value to, in addition to what motivates and threatens this demographic, is an advantage that can only make your SEO strategy more powerful.

A few examples of how we’ve used demographic information to improve our SEO strategy at The Blinker. First, we know not all people read and interact with information the same. We’ve designed our content format and writing style to appeal to our target readers and encourage deeper engagement from readers who find our content through search engines. Additionally, we’ve been able to use our SEO knowledge to facilitate discovery of our publications on platforms commonly used by our target consumer. Although both tactics have improved engagement depth on the website and earned us more loyal readers who believe in our core values, many more strategies are at your disposal.

SEO is powerful, but so are some of the fundamental strategies of marketing and communication, especially having a deep understanding of your target audience or consumer. With both you can go beyond simply reaching potential consumers and into discovering valuable consumers and alerting them to your value with high efficiency.