Write for People AND for Robots: How to Craft Content that Works for Your Customers and for Google

Luke and C3PO

SEO content that we can all agree on

If you’ve been around the SEO spacedock a time or two, you may have heard that “content is king.” This fun little alliterative statement serves as a useful reminder of the important role that fresh and unique content plays in establishing a strong online presence.

The difficulty that many would-be content creators run into is that there are really two audiences that they must be aware of at all times: people (website visitors) and robots (search engines). These audiences use very different methods of processing information, making it all too easy to write for the one while ignoring the needs of the other.

Despite the challenges, SEO works best when your content works to keep both of these audiences happy. Search engine-optimized content can lead people to your site, and people-optimized content can convince them to stay there. Ideally, everything you write—website copy, blog posts, social media shares, etc.—should work for both.

Write Great SEO Content in 10 Easy Steps

  • Step1: Write a clickable headline– The headline is the first thing that both readers and robots see. Make the title as compelling as possible, and work a keyword or two to the search engines know what your content is about. You can entice more readers to click by promising, either explicitly or implicitly, that your content will improve their lives in some way.If you want examples of some excellent titles, you need look no further than our own SEO.com blog:

    These two headlines use specific details to create a sense of urgency and invite website visitors to read more.

  • Step 2: Make good use of keywords – Putting keywords to good use in content does not mean over-stuffing or creating spammy articles. Use your keywords a few times near the beginning of your content to let the robots know what the page is about, but make sure they sound natural to the real people who will actually read the sentence.
  • Step 3: Be useful – Readers crave useful information, and SEO-friendly content gives it to them. Useful content can take on a few different forms; it may be entertaining, educational, newsworthy, or informational. Useful content adds to your customers’ lives, answers their questions, and encourages them to share what they’ve read.For an example of extremely useful content, check out our three part series explaining Pinterest. This series serves to answer many of the questions that readers have about an extremely timely topic.
  • Step 4: Insert some personality – Nothing drives readers away faster than boring copy. People enjoy writing that is conversational and entertaining. Write as if you were talking to a friend. Try to make yourself and your product likeable.
  • Step 5: Avoid jargon – Every industry has buzzwords and phrases that only an insider would understand. Don’t annoy or confuse your readers by using a lot of technical terms, acronyms, or pointless wordiness. Write so that your meaning is clear and to-the-point.
  • Step 6: Format for scannability – Very seldom do people read every word on a webpage. Make your content user friendly by using plenty of subheadings (keyword-optimized h2 and h3 tags), lists, and text formatting to draw the eye and emphasize important points. Top ten lists and how-to articles work extremely well.
  • Step 7: Differentiate yourself – Stand out from other websites by posting unique and original content. If you’re writing in an overly-saturated industry, try developing a niche topic or creating a unique voice.
  • Step 8: Use multimedia – People and search engines love multimedia. Insert photos, charts, videos, infographics, and graphs into your content to illustrate what you’re trying to say, and use SEO-friendly markup to let the search engines know what they’re about.
  • Step 9: Longer is not always better – Say whatever you have to say and then stop.
  • Step 10: Build authority – Create content that is relevant to your readers on a regular basis. If you do this, both people and search engines will come to regard you as an authority on your subject, and whenever they need information about it, they will turn to your website first.

Carefully crafting SEO content that works for search engines and for people can lead to more website visitors and, ultimately, more conversions. These steps can help you whether you’re selling business software or secret plans for a certain weaponized space station capable of blowing up an entire planet.

What is your advice for how to keep the people and the robots happy? What techniques have you found to be the most valuable?

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9 Comments

  1. Rob Skidmore says

    Very insightful. Every SEO blog I read talks about the importance of great content. Few of them talk about how to write it. It is refreshing to find a more practical approach. 

    • Holly Cordner says

       
      Thanks. Using proper formatting really makes a big difference in both usability and SEO.
       
      By putting relevant keywords in prominent places like headings and subheadings, you make it easier for users to quickly grasp what your page is about.
       

  2. Holly Cordner says

     
    Absolutely—just adding words to a page and calling it “content” won’t do much to help your website out at all. I’d recommend that you take a look at some of the other posts that we’ve written on this subject to get more ideas for how to write excellent content.
     

  3. William says

    as u said longer is always not better….
    i makes me confuse because most of the SEO articles tell that SEO is nothing but text and google favors large sites…please explain

    • Holly Cordner says

      Since the ultimate goal of the search engines is to direct users to relevant and useful content, there’s really no “magic number” when it comes to word count. You should say what you want to say as clearly and succinctly as you can without resorting to pedantic prose. On the other hand, if you feel your topic requires more space to cover thoroughly, then you shouldn’t feel obligated to try to cram everything into a few hundred words. You may want to experiment with different lengths for your onsite content and blog posts and see which is best for you.

      Of course, the longer your article, the more attention you need to give to making it people-friendly by providing plenty of breaks in the text and visual cues for what each section is about. Making your article “scannable” and using multimedia to underscore your arguments are absolutely essential.

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