As Google constantly works on their goal of making the search algorithm as good as human judgements, SEO is increasingly more about the right kind of content than it is about tech choices or gaming the system. SEO writing is therefore increasingly important.
But what kind of content works well for SEO? Here are five tips that can help you know what you’re looking for when you seek an SEO writer:
- Write clearly.
Here are some magazine ad headlines:
- A few good drops
- Best Decision Ever.
- Soul Surfer
We could go on. The point is clear, though: unless you recognize the ad and remember the picture, you have no idea what these headlines — which are often the only text in the ad — are talking about.
Search engines don’t look at your pictures and they don’t get figurative language or have emotional histories for phrases to resonate with. They take things literally. You can write for brand awareness or for conversion while you’re writing clearly for the search engines, but you can’t forget that you’re writing for robots and still expect to succeed.
- Write well.
Google’s patent application for their search algorithm specifically mentions spelling errors as a factor that lowers rank for a web page. We don’t know all the good-writing factors involved, but we know that poor writing is one of the hallmarks of spammy web pages. Over the years, Google has refined its algorithm to be able to make near-human judgements about the quality of writing.
Google also continues to use links from human webmasters as a factor in ranking websites. They’re trying to get rid of links as a factor because so many people use them to try to manipulate their rankings, but so far, they’ve found that human judgements about the value of a page are still important.
So pointless ramblings or regurgitations of things already found all over the web won’t do you any good. Grammatical errors, poor word choices, and a lack of specific facts will actually do your company website harm.
If you don’t have writers on the team, hire them.
- More specifically, make a point.
Acting on a request from a client, we analyzed lots of posts at one website to find the difference between those that performed well, bringing traffic and ranking well with search engines, and those that did not. The biggest difference was that the high performers had a clear, well-supported point. This is a distinguishing feature of good writing, but only one of the distinguishing features. From the point of view of search engines, it seemed to be the most important one.
If you’re not sure you can tell good writing when you read it, focus on this: is there a point to the post? If not, pass on that writer.
- Use the right keywords.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the use of keywords. Your keywords are the words and phrases people use when they search for your goods and services. We’re working on an online store for an outdoor gear retailer. We know from Google Analytics that their customers look for information on dispersed camping, camping gear, and camping equipment. We can see from Google Trends that many people also look for “camping out,” “national forest camping,” and “glamping,” so it makes sense for us to use those terms as well.
But if we decide to focus on keywords like “webwalking” and “slackpacking” or referred to camping gear as “trail stuff,” we’re not going to show up in the search results for as many people. Unless we want to appeal specifically to the small population of people who are super excited about slackpacking, and we have products just for them, we would be harming the website’s performance.
On the other hand, our websites that sell services for industrial engineers needing help with specific machine parts had better be specific. We don’t mind talking to people who have a general interest in engineering, and it certainly ups our organic search results to have highly authoritative websites, but the people who need our clients’ services are not messing around, and they’re not idly shopping. They need something specific and we want to make it easy for them to find it.
Search engines can’t recognize a graceful turn of phrase, an elegant allusion, or a witty aside. But they definitely know a grammatical error or factual mistake when they see one. A writer who is big on creativity and low on accuracy is not going to help you with SEO — unless you have someone else to proofread.
Here at Haden Interactive, we have a second writer proofread every post. We write a lot of words every day and we work as efficiently as possible, and we’re human. We know that we will make typos. The key is to catch them before we publish.
SEO writing is not about stringing together keywords and making sure you have a link somewhere. If SEO is part of your marketing strategy, hiring actual SEO writers is a good tactic. Call Rosie at 479.966.9761 to discuss your needs.