This may sound like a silly question, but the answer is counter-intuitive. Audience is something every good writer takes into account, and an SEO content writer has not one but two major audiences to consider.
SEO writer audience #1
The first audience should be fairly obvious: people searching on search engines. People rarely read past the first page of Google results, so clients want their websites to show up on the first page. Furthermore, readers concentrate on the first few results at the top of the page, so the higher the client’s site ranks in the results, the better.
SEO writer audience #2
The second audience is less obvious: the search engines themselves. In addition to grabbing the attention of live readers, a site must grab the attention of search engines. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other engines use complicated algorithms to decide which results to show first, so a client’s site must appeal to those algorithms. It has to attract the search engines themselves.
This audience may be even more important than the first, since the search engines choose which sites to show lives users. The search engine must be attracted before there is even an opportunity to attract the live reader.
Should I write for the people or the search engines?
This last point has led to a proliferation of rather poor SEO writing. Disregarding actual live audiences, some authors put out drivel that looks good to search engines but bores readers to tears. Some use article spinner software to recycle the same article into multiple pieces barely different from each other. Others stuff keywords into grammatically meaningless gobbledygook. Finally, some lack the English skills to put a decent sentence together, producing a strange, foreign-sounding muck.
I don’t believe in writing only for search engines. There are always two audiences: electronic and live. Writing that only exploits the algorithms might attract search engines and get traffic to the site, but those readers won’t stick around. In fact, they’ll probably leave and never come back, adding the client’s site to their mental blacklist. Thus, disregarding the live audience is a short-sighted strategy at best. At worst, it’s a form of Internet litter.
Always remember the two intended audiences of an SEO content writer’s work: the search engines themselves, and the live readers the engines help attract.