Are you afraid that writing for search engines will take away your creativity?
Are you concerned that your website’s words will sound fake, almost robotic?
Are you paranoid that search engine optimization will hinder your website’s flow?
Well, stop worrying. And give SEO a go!
Search engine optimization isn’t a bad thing. And copy that is search engine optimized doesn’t have to exclude the reader. Really! Good content can meet the agendas of both search engine spiders and your customers.
How do I know? My name is Susan Greene, and I’ve been a professional copywriter in Florida for more than 20 years. I’ve studied SEO copywriting for the past 15+ years. In addition to reading a great deal of material on the topic, I’ve learned by trial and error. That is, I’d learn about an SEO strategy and then actually put it to use and see how it worked, fine tuning as I went along.
When I give SEO advice, I can speak with conviction because I’ve tested these theories myself. Here then, are six key principles I’ve learned about search engine optimization:
Instead of including multiple topics on one page, I now pick one main subject and explore it thoroughly. I select one or two keyword phrases and make sure to incorporate those phrases into my text, including the headlines, body copy and meta-tags. That type of focus not only appeals to search engines, my readers also get more meat to chew on.
The more information you offer on a topic and the better written that it is, the higher the page ranks on the search engines, which makes sense, right? The search engines’ objective is to offer the searcher the best sources of information for the topic he’s researching. So providing substance, and lots of it, is a good strategy.
If you think the best way to get to the top of the search engines is to repeat your keyword phrase numerous times to the point of it being nonsensical or even just awkward to read, you’re wrong. While that tactic might get you results in the short term, eventually the search engines will punish you for using a duplicitous technique.
Even if you were successful in getting your website more traffic, you’d be disappointing your visitors, who would soon click off your site and go on to the next one, presumably one that offers the information they seek. So don’t fool around; just provide good quality content.
The fact is you’re really not writing for the search engines; you’re writing for your website’s visitors. You can be creative and speak from the heart. In fact, that’s what will make your copy most effective.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore SEO techniques. But consider the search engine spiders to be simply another part of your audience, and including their needs in addition to those of your visitors is simply good web writing.
Just as television writers have to think about ratings and magazine writers must think about circulation figures, you should keep the search engines in mind when writing for your medium, the internet.
Search engines recognize sites that are continually changing and reward them with more frequent visits from the search engine spiders and higher rankings. Your visitors want current information. Continually freshening your site and adding new content attracts new visitors and keeps the old faithful coming back.
Word choice is critical. Don’t use elitist terms trying to sound intelligent. Choose the verbiage your audience uses. After all, those are the keyword terms they’ll use when they search. And once they get to your site, you want to forge a connection, so write conversationally.
As an example, you might think you sound more intelligent if you use the term “climate change.” However, according to Google, every month an average of 300,000 people search for climate change, while 2.2 million search for global warming.
Another example. According to Google, every month an average of 40,000 people search for “low fares” but 25 million search for “cheap flights.” Yes, 25 million! So the website that uses the phrase “cheap flights” will get more visitors and will also forge a better connection with them than those sites that insist on using the more upscale term “low fares.”
Bottom line, a good SEO copywriter writes for her audience, the visitor. Done right, incorporating keywords doesn’t ruin the copy; it actually helps it stay focused on the topic at hand.
Choosing the right keywords is a matter of determining what words readers use. To engage your readers and be effective in persuading them, you must speak their language. Write conversationally.
The best website in the world is virtually invisible if it gets no traffic. SEO helps keep customers coming in the door. However, your #1 priority should always be engaging readers and compelling them to take action in some form. SEO doesn’t hinder that objective one bit.
If novelists want to remain creative purists, and poets want to remain, well, poetic, and give no thought to something as technical as search engine ranking, that’s fine. But for those of us with businesses that use commercial websites to promote our products or services, ignoring the importance of search engine optimization is missing a huge opportunity to grow our success.
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