It’s no secret that writing content for SEO has changed dramatically over the past several years.
In the ancient days of SEO, you could get a piece of content to rank simply by using the right keywords and using them throughout your content as many times as you can.
But those days are long gone.
Today, SEO writing is much more refined and complex.
Not only does your content need to satisfy what search engines are looking for as far as keywords and metadata go, but it also needs to appeal to human readers.
That’s because Google is continuously refining its search algorithm with the user in mind. And the more relevant and useful your content is to the user, the more likely Google will rank it well for particular search queries.
In other words –
If it’s not good for the user, it’s not good for Google.
Ultimately, this means that the best way to create content for search engines today is to actually write for humans – your customers – first.
Here’s how to do it.
Know what your customers are asking
It’s not enough to create content for the sake of creating content for your business. If you really want to get your customers’ attention (and build momentum in rankings), then you need to create content that they’re actually looking for. And the best way to do this is to find out what your customers are asking or searching for about your product or service. By doing this, you can create content that’s more likely to engage and convert your customers – which Google will take notice of.
(Tip: Try using Google’s Keyword Planner, Google auto-suggestions, or tools like AnswerThePublic to gain insights on the type of questions and phrases your customers are using. Or better yet, get feedback directly from them via surveys or emails.)
Understand search intent
Knowing the questions your customers are asking is a great start, but it’s not enough. You also need to understand why they’re asking these questions. This is what’s referred to in the industry as search intent. Are they simply looking for more information about your product or service? Are they ready to buy what you’re offering and just need an extra push? Do they need a guide to help them decide? By understanding the intent behind your customer’s searches, you can plan and create content that provides the answers they’re actually looking for.
(Tip: Try to Google the questions/queries yourself and check the results that are showing. Odds are the results are close to the type of content your customers are looking for.)
Use the right format
When writing content to answer your customers’ questions, remember that the way you provide the answers can be just as important as the answers itself. The goal is to provide answers in the most effective and user-friendly ways possible, whether that be through a blog post, an in-depth guide, a dedicated landing page, or any other format. Use the content format that would best provide the answers they’re looking for.
(Tip: Written content may not always be the best ways to provide the answers they want. It could also be videos, infographics, or other content formats. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and determine how you would like to know the answers if you were the one searching for it.)
Write like how you would talk to them
Nothing puts off online readers faster than content that’s clearly written for SEO. You know what that’s like: keywords stuffed everywhere, phrases that sound unnatural or forced, and headings or sub-headings that don’t really make sense. To avoid falling into these common traps of SEO writing, write like how you would speak to them in person. This will help you prevent from sounding too robotic or detached and make you sound more human instead. Remember: Just because you’re writing for web doesn’t mean that you should sound like a computer and abandon the hallmarks of a good conversation.
(Tip: Try to match the language style of your customers, including the terms and phrases they often use when discussing your product or service. As an extra benefit, this can also help you use specific keywords or phrases more naturally in your content.)
Inject your personality
One of the best ways to write for humans is to write like a human yourself. This means injecting some of your (or your brand’s) personality into your content. By doing so, you’re reminding them that what they’re reading was made by a human, too. This will help you connect with your reader better and make your content more accessible and effective.
(Tip: Remember that injecting your personality doesn’t mean appearing unprofessional or careless. It’s about relating to your readers in a human and approachable way. You can be authentic and personable without being unprofessional.)
Use keywords naturally
By now, you probably already know that keyword stuffing is a big no-no in SEO. Not only does stuffing your content with keywords look unnatural, but it just doesn’t read and sound well. Instead, strive to use keywords and keyword phrases as naturally as possible. The good news is that when you’re writing content that answers their questions and queries, the keywords will fall naturally in place.
(Tip: You don’t always have to use exact match keywords in your content. Google is now smart enough to understand keyword phrases and their variations, so you can be more flexible with the way you use keywords.)
Change your mindset to SEO writing
When writing for SEO, many think that they need to choose between writing for humans and writing for search engines.
But that’s simply not the case anymore with SEO writing today.
Instead of this outdated mentality, think of writing for humans and writing for search engines as the same thing.
That’s because the line between them is becoming thinner and thinner with each Google algorithm update. And eventually, Google’s search engine will be smart enough to make that line disappear altogether.
Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz, said it best on Twitter (way back in 2016!):
And while this tweet was published more than 4 years ago, it’s still as true today as it was then – and even more so today!