Today, there are really two purposes of website content:
*To communicate with search engines
*To communicate with website visitors
The problem is, search engines and site visitors speak different languages.
And that right there is the paradox. If you write it solely for the search engines, you may get better rankings but visitors will bounce off your site before they can read your second stuffed keyword. If you write just for visitors, it’s likely nobody will find your site to read your beautiful verbiage anyway.
It’s a delicate balance communicating with search engines and people at the same time, or in other words, mix good, persuasive writing with the right SEO keywords. Talented writers can do it seamlessly, however, without sounding like they speak a foreign language. Here are 7 steps to writing good SEO copy that doesn’t suck:
1. Solve Your Audience’s Problem
Whether it's creative, engaging or whatever, everything written on a website should essentially be a solution to the visitor’s problem. First you must know your prime audience and what problem they want solved, then show how you will solve that problem.
2. Write as if SEO Does Not Exist
Get the message across first. Communicate to humans first. Write it powerfully and simply without the shackles of keywords. This will make a more compelling message that punches the visitor in the face. Afterwards, it’s easy to insert the right keywords and links.
3. Consult SEO Specialist, Do What He/She Says (Mostly)
Keep that guy or girl in the loop. The SEO dude (or dudette) has done the research, knows what keywords will drive the right traffic, what keywords should be linked to what page, etc. You can be creative to fit in most of those suggested keywords. After you write it, make sure the SEO specialist approves.
4. Sacrifice Keywords for the Good of Art
Most SEO now depends on getting the right links. If keywords are making it TOO clunky and awkward, you may be forced to get rid of them. Otherwise the visitor will think you are a robot from the Philippines. If the SEO guy has problems, tell him to build more links.
5. Sacrifice Art for the Good of Keywords
Sometimes there are keywords that must be in the copy or h1 tags. Those big, money making keywords take precedence. This is the delicate balance where a writer and the SEO specialist have to come to terms.
6. Use Right Format, i.e. “h1”
Your main headline should be written using the h1 tag and should include the main keywords you would like your particular page to rank for. If you're really serious about SEO-ing your page, the keywords in the h1 should essentially match the keywords in the title tag for the page (If you're curious about what a title tag is go here). Also, here's a post about other basic on-page optimization tips, which include stuff about h1's and h2's.
7. Beware of Spammy, Blackhat
Keyword stuffing, duplicate content, cloaked content – all that stuff is bad news. Despite having the search engines put you in the doghouse for it, users hate it too. That stuff is bad for your image from a marketing and PR standpoint, and I don’t even need to talk about how that stuff negatively affects website conversion.
Do you agree with these steps? Have any other advice for writing SEO website copy? Please comment.