“Should you write for people or for search engines?” The question comes up time after time in the world of internet marketing.
But the real question is: “Why not both?”
Excellent writing and SERP ranking are not mutually exclusive. In the primitive days of search, you were able to rank with low quality content by gaming the system.
Since then, Google has greatly refined its formula. Under the new rules, your content must be exceptional to do well in search.
In the past, you either wrote for people or you wrote for the search engines. Now, doing one means doing the other. If you’re writing for real people, you’re also writing for Google.
Thus, there’s no excuse for letting SEO ruin your writing. If optimization is lowering the quality of your website, you’re doing SEO wrong.
Don’t let myths and outdated practices make your writing subpar. Your online success and even your reputation hinge upon the caliber of your content. Churning out junk is simply shooting yourself in the foot.
By mastering these 3 principles to phenomenal SEO copywriting, not only will you rank higher. You will convert more, build your reputation, and feel greater pride in your work.
#1. See the Big Picture
The biggest SEO copywriting mistake is over-optimizing. Inexperienced SEOs stuff keywords anywhere they can fit them—even when doing so makes sentences clunky and awkward.
Drastically high keyword density is a tip-off to readers that the article in question is nothing more than a rank-quick SEO scheme. SEOs who don’t know what they’re doing worsen the situation by repeating the same single keyword phrase throughout their content (without variations).
There’s a reason so many people write this way. They’re practicing the methods of an era in which on-page SEO was a more important factor than it is today.
Before, you could have paragraphs of nothing but your keyword pasted multiple times over. With some cheap mass-produced links, such content would actually rank on the first page of SERP results.
Nowadays, on-page SEO and keyword density don’t have the same weight they once did. Acquiring quality (not spammy) backlinks from authoritative, niche-relevant domains is the most important ranking factor.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ignore keyword placement. But try publishing a perfectly optimized article. Then let it sit and watch it never even break the top 100. You’ll then realize on-page SEO isn’t everything.
On the other hand, front page results everywhere are filled with content that only sparsely includes the ranking keyword phrase. The key is the quality of the backlinks pointing to these articles.
The first step to better SEO writing, then, is to keep a full perspective on what’s truly important. Don’t ruin perfectly good copy for the sake of an obsolete method.
Instead, write like a human being and then do outreach to strengthen your backlink profile.
#2. Focus on User Experience
One of the most inane justifications of over-optimized content is that such writing isn’t meant to be read, just to bring in traffic.
f your SEO tells you that, ask him this question: “What’s the point of driving people to my content if they’re not going to read it?”
When you see him struggle to give a reasonable answer, you’ll understand the futility of this practice.
If users don’t consider your post relevant or read-worthy, they navigate away. They don’t click on your conversion pages, become subscribers, make purchases, or share your content.
Directing visitors to a page they’re not even going to read is like buying a roadside billboard for a restaurant that doesn’t exist. It’s a waste of your time and money.
While the culprits of this form of writing claim to do it in the name of SEO, the reality is they only hurt their sites’ odds with the search engines.
Nobody shares unreadable garbage. That means no backlinks. Without quality backlinks, your articles have no hope of getting to the top.
And if your content isn’t readable, visitors don’t stay for long. As your engagement declines, the overall effectiveness of your site goes down.
Don’t bother making content no one will reads. Spend your time carefully planning out content of value. Make it useful, readable, presentable, and shareable.
By thinking of your readers first and creating a pleasant online experience for them, the resulting backlinks and social signals will increase your rankings.
#3. Don’t Obsess Over Word Count
Many SEO “gurus” perpetuate myths about ideal word counts. They say that if you reach a generic number like 500 or 700, Google will magically give your content an extra SEO “push.”
While it’s true that there’s a correlation between higher word count and higher rankings, it’s important to know why this is the case.
A longer article usually means more research, more details, greater value. When the content is high value, people naturally share and link to it.
The long word count in and of itself is not what makes content high-ranking. There are plenty of short articles ranking for highly competitive terms that are nothing more than a brief paragraph and an infographic.
Writers who obsess over word count wind up ruining their content with filler and keyword cramming. Their articles meander, going off into directionless tangents for the sake of reaching a generic number of words.
The result is poor writing. In pursuing an imaginary benefit, word count-obsessed SEOs lose the real benefits of quality content.
The ideal word count is whatever is needed to properly and concisely convey the message you want your readers to take home. Whether that means 500 or 5,000 words depends on your niche, your audience, and your article subject matter.
Don’t sabotage your SEO efforts. Real SERP success comes from writing unique content that real people enjoy enough to want to share.
By avoiding the myths and focusing on the activities that really matter, you can rank without letting bad SEO ruin your writing.