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Is Writing With SEO in Mind a Bad Thing?

Should You Keyword Stuff Your Content?

"Keyword" spelled out in letter blocks on a table

I guess I'm odd. I actually like writing. I used to hate it... a lot. I remember struggling to write papers in college and look at word counts, page counts and figuring how to double space and use larger fonts to hit those required page counts. Yeah, it was a drag and I know it's also a drag for lots of people.

Content is usually the thing that makes a website design project drag on and on. The website is ready but just needs content, so it sits until the content is produced. Anyone who has put together a website knows this. Mapping out and planning content is crucial.

Since not only people read your website - search engines do, you have to satisfy both audiences. You mainly write for people, of course, but there is a way to do that and satisfy the search engines as well and it has to do with keywords.

This article will give you some ideas for writing in a way that will attract search engines to your website so that the content you do produce is content that will produce results.

Should You Hire a Copywriter?

The secret to getting good content done is to hire a copywriter. This is what they do - they write content. They'll do it in the right voice, make it concise, interesting to read and get this task off your plate. They'll interview you and then get to writing. The big advantage to hiring a copywriter is that they are looking from the outside in. They put themselves in the shoes of your prospective clients/customers. This is huge.

If you need help hiring a copywriter, we have several that we work with and would be glad to help you work with them.

Using Keywords in Your Content

I just checked the calendar and it's not 2009 anymore. Yeah, SEO back then was super easy... just keyword stuff an article/page, get links to it and you rank. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Well, Google became keen on what was going on and those days are long gone. What matters now is quality content. So does that mean you can't write with SEO in mind? Heck no! In fact, it'll help.

What using SEO techniques and what keyword research does is guide your writing so that you're writing about what people are searching for. That statement is maybe kind of a mix between "oh, duh" and getting your mind blown. Of course you want to give people content that they're searching for and the way to do that is to do keyword research and incorporate those phrases into your content. No, you don't stuff articles with keywords but still include a few phrases (just once) that people are searching for.

You're actually helping the search engines here, that's all. This contributes to a good user experience and that's perfectly fine to do.

Here's a great article I found today that talks about this:

How SEO Actually Improves Content Quality (searchenginewatch.com)

As a writer, or at least as a person producing content, it’s easy to think you know best. To assume you know what a person wants to read or even that you know who your audience is. However, through SEO we get to actually find out these things and then use them to better our words.

[...]

Another benefit SEO brings to the content process is organization. When you’re writing a book, there are chapters and a natural evolution of information that moves the story along. On websites, the same exists. There is page hierarchy and natural progression of how a user makes his or her way through the website.

The Secret Sauce... LSI Keywords!

How you attract search engines to your website is to use LSI keywords. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing and you can read all about how it works but I'll give you the short answer... it's using keywords in a way that better describe the intent of the article.

For example, a web page about driving could be about driving a car, driving a golf ball on a range, driving directions or even driving games. So, to help search engines better figure out what you mean, you add in LSI keywords. They're basically the keyword phrases people are searching for. We call them "long-tail keywords" because it's usually a phrase of 3 or more words.

You've seen these suggestions at Google and other search engines. They appear when you start typing and they appear at the end of most searches:

Google suggest for a driving school search

Google LSI related keywords

Since Webstix is based in Madison, WI, we see results for "driving school" in this example for our area.

What you do is pick out some phrases here that will naturally work in your article. You should be able to squeeze a few in. If you need more, you can always click on one of these links and then look at the related keywords at the end of those results.

And you don't have to use those phrases exactly. You can change a word or two or add in a word. Again, make your text sound natural... for sure.

If you have an article of 800 words, you might add 3-4 of these phrases. There's really no set rule here. If you can find some that work well, use them but don't go crazy.

These kinds of SEO rules are more common sense and not set rules, so don't follow rules verbatim but use them as guidelines - understand the spirit or reasoning behind them and then apply those concepts.

Figure Out Your Page Structure

Make sure you have a page with a good amount of text. Having 800 words is a good rule. Make sure you use original content (make sure it's not from anywhere else on the web - not even anywhere else on your website).

Have one page per topic. Don't have 3 pages about the same thing. Put that all on one page instead.

If you do have pages with related content, then set one page up as the parent page and the others as child pages of that parent. You do this with breadcrumb navigation on your website, which is a setting in WordPress (Page Attributes):

Page Attributes setting in WordPress

You should also link from the child pages to the parent page. Internal linking like this is good.

Make sure you use images, related videos (if you can) and link out to high authority websites. Doing this gives your content value. Since Google measures how long people stay on a page ("dwell time"), having a good amount of content and video increases that dwell time and makes your page look like a really good result that Google wants to send traffic to (higher rankings).

Conclusion

Plan your content and do research. You can do this with your existing website or a new website/redesign. If you're not sure what to write about, ask your customers. You can do a survey over email or on Facebook. Call them if you have to. Focus your research on what they say and what people are searching on by doing keyword research. We can help with this.

The way you have to think about this is to realize that this is what your competition is doing. They're doing planning and research. Do you think you'll have a chance at outranking them by just winging it or by doing planning and research? This is what it takes now to build and launch a successful website.

We've seen it many times - the projects that have lots of good research and planning really do succeed. They do really well. Not all our clients want to do this but many of them do and it works. You have to do more than your competition.

-Tony

(This article was updated in 2017)

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