Writing for the Sake of SEO? Those Days are Over
Remember the days of old when SEO was a fresh, up-and-coming idea and you could use the Google toolbar for your PageRank? This was somewhere between when Oregon Trail was a popular game and JT’s frosty tips were “all the rage.” (If you have to look this up, it’s safe to say you were too young to remember this.)
For the rest of you, don’t bust out your dentures just yet – although this may seem like a long time ago, in the grand scheme of things, SEO really isn’t that old.
To give you a brief history lesson, search engines used to rank websites based on how many times it had the term you were searching for. Circa the 1990s, search engines were mostly indexed by people manually, and websites for companies that had more money typically made it to the top. Sounds nothing like it is today, right?
Making a long story short, thanks to Google, things began changing – and, now, websites are crawled and ranked based on their relevancy to you, the searcher. Now you may be asking: what does this have to do with writing?
It’s got everything to do with writing and content marketing, young Padawan. It’s the reason we write the way that we do content marketing – to optimize and create content that’s relevant to a person’s interests, needs and pain points.
Gone are the days where you could spam keywords or provide less-than-savory information to draw in website views and customers. Writing jargon is no longer acceptable, and rightfully so.
SEO’s Impact on Content Marketing
SEO has propelled companies to begin blogging as a result, it has ignited a spark of useful and carefully curated content geared toward viewers and customers. You can’t just keyword mash over and over and force something nonsensical for the sake of juicing up your SEO efforts.
No, writing now needs a purpose; it needs to be focused, and driven toward a specific pain point for a persona. If you don’t you will be penalized by Google, and, much like Sisyphus, your blog post will have little to no hope of reaching the top of the search engine ranks.
Expectations are Higher Than Ever for Browsers
With cell phone popularity reaching an all-time high, and many depending solely on mobile for the Internet, our attention spans are constantly being cut like a carbon half-life cycle. People mostly just scan website pages (myself included), and need eye-catching elements to grab their attention.
It all starts with great content. If your writing isn’t succinct and informative, readers will gloss right over it and move on to something that will address their pain point(s) quickly.
Of course, depending on your target audience, some are more prone to read than others. Older age groups tend to have a longer attention span so you can take a little bit to get to the punchline while younger groups require fast-paced and witty content they can nod their head to.
That said, try some of these tips to stay focused in your content and not fall into the “write for the sake of writing” trap:
- Appeal to your personas. Don’t force anything. Take a moment to think about your persona. For example, if you’re an outsourcing company, put yourself in the shoes of a business owner you may be writing to. Go through the motions in your head as to what they go through on a daily basis, and write in a way that will speak to them and their struggles.
- Be consistent. The more blog posts you write, the more indexed pages you will get on your website–this increases the chance that someone will find you on a search engine (as long as your posts and keywords are working in harmony with each other, of course).
- Answer, then Explain. Don’t lead the reader on through a slosh of 1,000 words to get to the crux of your question or pain point (most readers don’t even reach the bottom of blogs, according to a HubSpot study). Offer context to the title, and take a no-nonsense explanation. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun with it, but make sure you’re staying on topic!
Get Out There, Blogger!
Do you use social media and write statuses and tweets? If so, you can write! Here at Viral Element, everyone contributes blogs regardless of their job title. Having a diverse blog with different voices can lend well to any industry’s efforts, and eliminate tapping one person’s reserves for topics and fresh ideas.