One of my very first jobs in the digital industry was writing SEO articles. Right at the start of my career, I came across the job on a forum and it seemed easy – produce 400 words on a topic I’d be provided with, with a need to include keywords a couple of times throughout the piece (generally in the title, the first paragraph and the last paragraph).
I actually did this for a couple of years as part of my freelance writing work, before I started to get involved in wider SEO activities, and really enjoyed it. Apart from anything, it was easy – I was producing between three and four articles an hour at one point.
And at the time, from a SEO perspective, the whole process worked. You published the content on a third party website, linked back to yours and bingo, Google put 2 + 2 together and assuming your website was optimised for the same phrases, provided you with a boost in rankings for the keywords you were writing around.
Today, for SEO, the basic principle of writing content around suitable keywords and publishing it away from your website is actually still in place. The way the whole thing needs to be approached and implemented, however, is completely different to how it once was.
And just as the title explains, if you’re looking to write a blog post that’s going to have a positive impact on your SEO strategy today, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, you really do need to take your SEO hat off.
The audience needs to come first
When you were writing a SEO blog post 10 years ago, the audience didn’t really come into the equation. You weren’t thinking of who was actually going to be reading the piece, simply that you needed to produce at least a couple of hundred words that included your keywords. It was about the search engine’s requirements, not the user’s.
Google was no where near as advanced then as it is today and this approach worked perfectly from their perspective. They saw content, with keywords, pointing from one site to another – it seemed obvious to them that the linked-to site needed to be pushed up the ranking pages for the relevant keyword(s).
Over the past couple of years, however, Google has developed to such an extent that I genuinely believe the best way to see success with SEO is to consider search engines as human beings.
The main reason behind this is as soon as you begin ignoring the fact Google has certain algorithms in place, you’ll stop trying to think of ways to cheat or get around them. You’ll no longer be trying to determine a specific keyword density or post length, and instead put all of your effort into producing content that is genuinely going to be read, interacted and engaged with.
If you’re writing for your audience, you won’t miss the SEO principles
What often concerns people in the SEO industry (or people who are simply trying to succeed with SEO) with this approach is that by writing for the reader, you’ll miss a lot of things that need to be included for SEO purposes. Backlinks, keywords in headings or the inclusion of an image could all be missed, right?
Well, not really, no.
if you’re trying to produce a blog post for your audience, it’s not just about the copy and the way it reads. It’s about the whole experience.
It’s about the images you use alongside the copy to help illustrate your point. It’s about the sources you include and link to to qualify your claims.
And of course, if you’re writing about a topic that’s of genuine use and interest to your audience, it’s naturally going to include suitable and relevant keywords throughout, right from your title to your image alt text.
Plus, it’s all going to happen in the most organic way possible, which is exactly what the search engines are looking for.
Don’t ignore SEO
With all this said, I do think it’s important to say that you shouldn’t ignore SEO when you’re producing content to assist with your SEO efforts. The main point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re struggling to see continued success with the content produced as part of your SEO strategy, it’s likely because you’re thinking too much about the SEO aspect and not enough (if at all) about your audience.
Of course you need to include keywords and links, and think about the level of their inclusion, your links’ title tags and their anchor text, for instance, but as I mentioned above, if you truly have your audience-focused, customer experience hat on and not your SEO one, this really should come naturally.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community