Should You Write for Google Bots or Your Readers?
SEO copywriter on a mission to help your business generate qualified leads through search
In 2011, AJ Kohn wrote an article
supporting the argument to write for search engines, not humans. He described search engines as a blind 5-year old.
They are unable to see color, gorgeous designs and other aesthetics humans consider when visiting a website. For proponents like this, ranking is more important than anything else.
But here’s what they’re not telling you. Ranking on search engines is super hard, especially when it’s a competitive keyword.
Some websites have a higher domain authority with tons of backlinks. Others have the resources to create infographics and video content, making it harder to rank when you’re just starting out.
But why should you write for search engines? It’s not even a thing!
Gaming the system doesn’t work because Google bots are intelligent and adaptable. They know good content.
Prior to the Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and RankBrain updates, you may have been successful. But not anymore.
How long do people spend reading your blog posts and guides? Do they find your articles interesting enough to share it on social media? Are you writing with keywords exclusively or are you trying to solve a problem?
These are signals that tell Google if your content is useful or not.
But let’s get on with the big question…
Should You Write for Humans or Search Engines?
Some content writers worry about writing for SEO. They focus on search engines instead of people who read the content.
Things like keyword density, content length, keyword placement, LSI keywords, local modifiers, and keyword variations take center stage over readability.
If you take nothing else away from this piece, remember this.
Google wants the best content for every query. It should be easy to read, detailed and solve a problem.
Recent updates to the Google algorithm means Google understands good content better than before. It’s not just about traditional search results. There are new search features enhancing accessibility and usability to improve the reader’s experience.
Google’s ability to generate billions in profit every quarter hinges on its search accuracy. Users conduct over 3.5 billion searches on Google every day. Google is synonymous with search because of the quality of results.
Since Google is dedicated to generating accurate results that best answer a search query, you should focus on creating the best answers for a specific search query. Create relevant content that builds trust and shows your expertise on a particular topic.
Your Content Fails When You Write Exclusively for Bots
Most marketers tell you not to write for SEO but focus on the reader. It’s a misleading statement.
There are thousands of sales pages and articles online negating keywords and search intent to their detriment. The key is to find the balance by creating user-friendly content optimized for search.
Search engines are machines that follow a set of codes created by search engineers. They mimic the reasoning and logic of humans. Hence, what is good for humans is good for search engines.
Do not write only to be seen on Google. Sucking up never works. You might be searchable but high bounce rates and a lack of backlinks is a sign of failure.
How Do You Create Content that Pleases Google and Humans?
1. Understand SEO Copywriting
SEO copywriting is a holistic process. First you do keyword research to understand the needs of your target audience as it relates to the product or service you’re offering.
Choose the most profitable long-tail keywords with low competition. Next, you use the keywords to write content that thoroughly satisfies the intent behind the keyword.
You want to create content that is so good, people link to it and share it across social media and email.
Google displays results based on the relevance of the page and authority. For instance, I currently rank on Page 1 for the keyword “copywriting tools” and I have Google Knowledge Panel for this keyword.
But take a look at the top-ranked pages and their DA score. These sites have a better link profile to boot. This is proof that you can rank on search engines if you create engaging content
even when you have low domain authority.
Every blog post has one goal, to sell by educating. While the authority of a web page is important (in terms of links pointing to that page), relevance and quality are higher ranking factors.
An SEO copywriter understands search intent
and the drivers of decision making. SEO copywriters also know how to use keywords and long-tail phrases to increase your search ranking and drive traffic to your site.
2. Incorporate Keywords Naturally in Your Headline
Adding a keyword to your headline is the first step to being visible to Google and humans. Choose keywords you want to rank for and incorporate them naturally.
You don’t have to place the keyword at the beginning of the title. Google understands what you’re saying just fine.
3. Optimize for Clarity
Writing for Google and humans means being objective and subjective. Do not negate your writing style.
It’s a great way to personalize your content and make it unique. Write in a conversational tone and an active voice. Ensure your message is clear and easy to understand.
For clarity, your sentences must be:
Simple: As a rule of thumb, assume your reader is 10 years old. We understand you are a pro in your niche but nobody cares. Avoid jargon words.
Short: Use short and concise sentences. Each sentence should not exceed 20 words. The shorter your title, the higher the chances of comprehension. Paragraphs should be 3–4 lines. This makes it easy for Google bots and humans to scan.
4. Understand On-Page SEO Practice
Google is always tweaking its search engine algorithms to deliver relevant results to users. Focus on the user’s intent. Google takes cues from all the content on the page including related keywords. It reinforces what your content is about.
Rank Brain prioritizes links. Add inbound and outbound links to your piece.
Links give humans access to more information and help search engines understand websites better.
5. Plan and Shape Content
Plan and conduct adequate research before you write. Determine the focus of your content, the question you’ll answer and the problems you’ll solve.
A content plan makes your copy organized. Planning ahead helps you:
- Identify the best word choice
- Find high ranking keywords
- Understand the intent of your audience
- Study your competition
6. Write with Confidence. Challenge Existing Opinions
Over 4 million blog posts
are published daily. You’ve got the top sites in every niche hogging the first page results. How do you stand out and carve a loyal following of your own?
Have an opinion. People read the same blog post in 20 different ways.
Give them a different perspective. I’ve read content from top authors I didn’t agree with. When I write a piece with my unique perspective, it’s a refreshing take from what is already out there.
7. Create How-to Articles
There’s a direct correlation between the content format you choose and blogging performance. Orbit Media surveyed 1,000 bloggers and found that an overwhelming 77% created how-to articles in the last 12 months.
How-to articles should be a direct fix for a specific problem. Ask questions and create in-depth content that offers a solution. It’s even better when you’ve had firsthand experience with the problem.
8. Ensure Your Content Is Readable
You can’t convince anyone if you lose em before you have em.
A few tips to improve readability:
- Use shorter sentences
- Find the simplest way to communicate your message
- Avoid going off-topic
- Use an active voice
- Remove jargon words
- Break up your copy into short paragraphs
- Use reader-friendly fonts
- Aim for Grade 7 or 8 in your Flesch reading score
Search engines and users want valuable and relevant content based on a specific search query. Write the best piece that targets one keyword and answers one question. If it’s good enough for humans, it’s good enough for Google bots.
Image source: vecteezy.com
Previously published at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/should-you-write-google-bots-your-readers-chima-mmeje/
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