How do I find middle ground between content and SEO as a copywriter?
We often discuss SEO strategies. For sure, Google gets human and is not impressed if you repeat keywords. As a copywriter it is my job to take care of good and interesting content. Is it a balancing act? Where can I find medium ground between content creation and SEO; or both?
Hi, In any statements and mesures that Google deals we can see that content is really a turn on point. It´s a fact that websites that has good posts into their funpages or blogs are relevance to search engines. Your medium ground is your own good sense when you are including keywords, ask yourself if you really will read your article, or stop at the second or third paragraph. Never think about your reader as an ordinary people, this is your first and best parameter!
Great responses here. I have two things to add.
Remember that return links count in SEO. If people are linking to you, that improves your ranking. The advice to write good reader-oriented content ties right in to this. If the content is good and worth sharing, people will share it and link to it.
Research the "thou shalt not ..." side of SEO, too. There are key words and phrases that will get you flagged as spam. Sometimes these can be innocuous words and phrases, so be on the lookout. Using "free" too many times is one example. There are many more.
I'm not an SEO expert. But one thing I've heard a number of times seems to make a lot of sense from a communications standpoint, as well as an SEO perspective:
Make each page on your site about ONE THING ONLY. Focus each of your articles on one key idea. This way, there's no confusion for SEO, no confusion for your audience, and no confusion when promoting your content in social media.
It's the biggest issue I've experienced with clients over 30 years as a communicator. It's a tendency to want to say everything all at once, rather than making one relevant memorable point.
You may have noticed that many of your favorite brands, web sites, movies, books, advertisements or articles share the same thing in common: A single takeaway that sticks, even as the less important details fade from memory. What works on the human brain will also work well for SEO.
Hi, it is a balancing act, bu in a sense, but bear in mind that the "Great Content" is defined as a myth by some very hard-core SEO people. Google checks user behaviour as a "Human" factor, but here comes the tricky bit, if click-through is key(as some claim) the content needs to be visible to be clicked, so content on page one will naturally get more clicks, so it will not happen by itself progressively for high competition keywords. The so called "Great Content" that ranks on own merit is likelly to rank by or via long tail keywords or keywords that are not very competitive, which is obviously worth exploring, but it is key to use good SEO. The good news is that you do not need to so to speak sacrifice the good copy for the sake of SEO if you do it right. So Great Content + Great SEO = No Need To Compromise
You need to decide whether you want to be a traditional copywriter or if you want to employ keyword strategies into your general writing style, in my opinion.
Moreover, with clients, clarify what their expectations are on keyword targeting in their copy, explaining the difference from simple good writing and production versus seo copy writing in which you adjust your writing style to accommodate certain terms.
Keep in mind, search engines are so much better today than 5 years ago. And so there are plenty of ways to optimize content for search engines without compromising the quality of the content itself.
For me part of the answer goes against what you do for a living, written in the best possible way of course!
You might consider that content comes from a subject matter expert intimately involved with the subject. This person could be the owner, the inventor, someone who sells it, stocks it, travels to conventions to see it, etc. They have skin in the game. They love it. They participate and that is largely their basis for writing content.
SEO, on the other hand, is words for pay. You are a "worker" in the seedy underworld of words. You write what people pay you to write. You stand on the corner looking for your next customer and if they pay, you do what they want. You are a subject matter expert in words, but your heart has no interest in what ever "act" you are being paid to do.
People, aka readers, consumers, enthusiasts, they look the other way when they see an "act" being performed by a "word worker". To them it is embarrassing and a sad comment on the world, something to be shunned and dropped and forgotten.
Content on the other hand, has them leaning in, memorizing the author's name and looking for more. They WANT more content, stuff, story - whatever you want to call it. This "stuff" is authentic and comes from a source the reader sees as credible. It doesn't come from someone writing to obey a formula, it doesn't come from someone being paid to perform yet one more "word act".
and yes I stand on the corner looking for the next client, but I also have a core set of subjects that interest me and that I work in as well, so I have the pleasure of writing content based on something that I love to do, sell, and create.
Don't compromise. Google's single drumbeat over the past few years has been to create quality content. This is what great marketing communicators have always understood. It is where old-school meets new-school. Write for the ready with relevant, and compelling posts, articles and stories. Forget about SEO...until you have a gem of a content piece. Then DO consider some finer SEO points including Meta items, and internal linking. Quality writing trumps SEO machinations every time.
Great question and excellent responses. As most of the responses suggest, concentrate on content and the rest will take care of itself. I've always done it the way @Michael Moore suggested - a few keywords in the right places, A few keywords (cover density in the right places) and make the content engaging...
A few points need to be stressed:
1) Don't use keyword phrase as an anchor text in an incoming link where the targeted page has the same anchor text in the URL. It's considered spam.
2) For all you know don't forget that 80% of readers look at headline or post title to decide whether to read the rest of the post. It's much like people judging a book by its cover. Needless to say you have to use catchy headlines.
3) Length of post does matter. As things now stand, a post ought to have around 1500 words (opinion varies) or even more for better ranking.
4) The days of 'you write it and they will come' are truly over since long. You have to beat your drum at every opportunity, mostly in the social media like tweeting selected portions of your post time and again (extending up to several months).
5) You must write often. In my opinion this and the next point are the most important ones to consider. When you write 'often' the stress is rather on following a schedule (like every Tuesday and Friday for example), than following an erratic pattern.
6) You must write well. You'll be amazed by the quality of articles that come out these days. The saying goes...the more you read the better you write. In other words, try writing well-researched pieces and don't hesitate giving references to other articles.
Summing up, SEO has evolved a lot over the past years. It's time to move out of the keyword-link-alt-tag mindset since they alone won't help you much.
My concern is the question is set up as an either / or.
I would suggest that content is king and that finding good content is the goal of SEO.