To someone with little or no knowledge of the SEO and internet marketing industries this might seem like a no-brainer. Writing is for humans right? Hasn’t it been that way since we started making marks on cave walls?
With the amount of reader focused writing in circulation today (letters, emails, memos, magazines etc) it can be easy to assume that web content is written with the same purpose in mind.
However, in a bizarre, I, Robot-esque twist; many writers are now gearing their content almost solely toward keyword hungry machines; the all powerful search engines whose attention every internet marketer so desperately craves.
So who should you write for?
The answer – that you should write for both search engines and human readers – may seem fairly obvious, but sadly it’s much easier written than done. The very first thing we must understand is not who we’re writing for, but why we’re writing.
It’s fair to say that many professional bloggers, content writers, article marketers, press release authors and blog commentators write with the sole purpose of improving their search engine rankings.
In the main, this kind of motivation leads to keyword heavy rubbish that has no benefit to a human reader at all, and when we realize why people want better search rankings the real irony of this technique becomes painfully apparent.
Marketers want better rankings to gain more traffic, i.e. human readers. Have you noticed the irony yet? By writing solely for the search engines you may well attract readers to your website, but once they get there they’ll leave quickly, feeling disgruntled and dissatisfied that their search led them to such a boring and unhelpful corner of the web.
The key is to weave the two purposes into your content, like blue and red wiring in circuitry. The first should be geared toward the search engines to get yourself heard, the second should be the point you have to make to your reader once you are being heard.
Writing or SEO is fairly easy; simply include sensibly distributed keywords, relevant headings and prudent metadata. However, trying to do this whilst remaining useful or exciting to readers is a little more challenging -so here are a few techniques to get you started.
Technique 1 – Interest Readers
The easiest way to achieve this traffic inducing blend is by writing about current news topics. Using a keyword rich and logically thought out long tail phrase, write about some breaking news, whilst adding your own opinion or twist.
Looking at trending topics on Twitter or using Google insights are excellent ways of finding out what people are talking about. Devise a long tail title using these keywords (this should provide good rankings in contemporary searches), but don’t just repeat what everyone else is talking about. Think of a fresh and unique angle – in doing so you’ll be providing something interesting for browsers to read once they arrive on your site.
This is a technique which is suited perfectly to blogging or article marketing, but avoid using this when producing press releases – these should be purely factual in nature.
Technique 2 – Instruct Readers
This may be starting to sound like a high school literacy lesson but as is the case in many areas of life, the basics are renowned because they work.
Identify something you’re good at and tell others how to do it. This might be tips on cooking the perfect pie or instructions for assembling a table; if you once had trouble doing it then you can guarantee that others are struggling with it today.
Try to write about a common or recently emerging problem (perhaps a way round a bug in some new software), again using long-tail phrases. This way, you’ll provide timely solutions to problems whilst they’re happening, therefore increasing the amount of traffic to your site
Factual pieces of writing appeal just as much to a human readership as fun or interesting articles. There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a clear solution to a problem online; your readers will be grateful. Include your links, tags and SEO trimmings, but make sure that, when a searcher arrives on your page or article, they find answers to the query they’ve made.
No one wants to search ‘how to respray a car’ to be greeted by an article jammed full of wisecracks and innuendo – they want an easy to follow guide. Some statistics state that 50% of the reasons that people become interested in a company are to do with relevance – a fact well worth bearing in mind when considering whether to write mainly for readers or robots.
Technique 3 – Inform Readers
The Press Release should be handled with extreme caution. When submitted to Google News indexed sites, these pieces of writing can receive a level of attention somewhat disproportionate to the profile of their creator website.
If you come across news that isn’t well known, there may be benefit in writing a press release on the subject. Only do this when you have newsworthy content however, as readers, press release distribution sites and search engines will all shun you if you are discovered disguising promotional content as news.
When writing a release facts are the key, even more so that when writing a ‘How To’ article. Keep keywords to an absolute minimum and be more careful than ever to appeal to readers, even at the expense of the search engines. If it’s newsworthy then it’ll find its way high into the SERP’s without your help, so make readers your priority.
To sum up, there are a few ways to guarantee that you tread the fine line of SEO content successfully. Practice will perfect your abilities, and after a while you’ll be able to gear anything you write to both the search engines and your readership. In the meantime, to ensure you’re writing for everyone that your should be, either –
A. Blog about a trending topic
B. Solve a common problem with a ‘How To’
C. Unearth and proclaim newsworthy content