SEO can seem to present a conundrum of sorts for business owners.
On the one hand, you know that you need your blog to engage readers, to pull them in by the droves so that your business will grow. On the other hand, you know that you need to improve your search ranking for specific keywords to get any web traffic at all.
The question is, “Is it possible to do both? Is it really possible to create content that blows your readers away with its relevance and sheer genius, while still satisfying that most elusive of beasts, the search engine algorithm?”
The short answer is, “Yes.”
The longer answer is that readability is actually crucial for search engine ranking, because Google rewards sites that have lower bounce rates.
However, in order to get visitors to your site in the first place, you do still have to be strategic in using keywords and SEO best practices to make sure your site gets found by those looking for it. Writing SEO content is all about balancing those concerns, so we thought we’d dish out a few SEO content writing tips here.
1) Focus on great content.
It’s really pretty simple.
Blogher’s “These 5 SEO Best Practices Will Be Hot in 2016” notes: “Google now increasingly rewards quality content. There is less focus on keyword saturation and more focus on whether or not the content is really relevant to the search query. So you need to continuously create top-notch content that uses proper, relevant queries that your ideal audience uses in search engines.”
When you are crafting your content, ask yourself questions like:
- Is this something I would read if I was not its writer?
- Is someone who finds this content likely to stay and read most or all of it, and think about it five minutes after it is read?
- Is someone who reads this content likely to share it with another person?
If you can answer “Yes” to these questions, you are on the right track.
2) Leave stuffing to the birds.
There are few things more annoying to a web visitor than reading a blog stuffed to the gills with keywords, like this gem of an example: “When baking an artisan bread, be sure to read the directions on your artisan bread recipe card, and put your artisan bread in a warm oven to enjoy your artisan bread later.”
While most writers would never stuff quite that many keywords into a sentence, the repetition of keywords simply for the sake of having a certain number of references to the keyword in your article is irritating to your reader. This is the exact opposite of what your blog is intended to do. Plus, Google can now spot it and punish your search ranking for it.
Consider working multiple variations of your keyword into your content to avoid being repetitive or unnatural. Not only does this help you potentially get found for more variations on your keyword, it also makes for a smoother reading experience.
3) Marry keywords and content together intelligently.
While keyword stuffing is a bad idea, it is still important to consider the way search engines find your content. The trick is to use your keywords and phrases in a natural, unforced way that complements the content you are writing.
Moz’s “Can SEOs Stop Worrying about Keywords and Just Focus on Topics?” discusses this theory of using a hybrid approach to keywords and content, saying: “In a smart combination of these techniques, we can get great results on both sides of the aisle.”
For instance, taking the earlier artisan bread example, a reasonable article for baking artisan bread might contain the phrase “baking artisan bread” in the title, the introduction, once or twice in the body of the article (depending on length) and once in the conclusion.
At the same time, your article should include real value to the reader by explaining clearly and concisely how to actually bake artisan bread. In this way, you start the golden SEO cycle: the search engines will bring readers interested in your keyword to your site because you’ve used it strategically; those readers will be happy because they’ve found helpful, relevant content; those readers will stay longer, decreasing your bounce rate; and the search engines will see your decreased bounce rate and further elevate your ranking.
Plus, your web traffic metrics will look great.
4) Consider a multi-media approach to SEO.
Google algorithms weigh user experience heavily in their search rankings. As users increasingly prefer multi-media content like graphics and videos, it is reasonable to assume that using a multi-media approach will garner better search rankings in the long run. Multi-media content also allows you to use keywords in a more unobtrusive way, creating a win-win situation for your search rank and your web visitor satisfaction.
It is possible to write great SEO content without sacrificing readability—in fact, SEO and readability go hand in hand. Above all, make it a priority to consider the experience of your reader as you write. When you do so, you will find that your keywords flow more naturally and your content will serve its purpose of engaging and delighting your audience.