Writing for SEO can help your content reach a maximum number of readers. However, many bloggers wonder if concentrating too much on search engines will ruin their writing.
If you’re not familiar with it, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a set of technical and writing best practices that help search engines find your content, which results in visitors landing at your site. In other words, best SEO practices helps Google and friends help you.
How Important is Writing for SEO?
Does writing without regard to SEO limit your audience? Will writing for SEO ruin your craft?
The answer to both questions is “it depends.”
For a time, SEO writing was bad. Writers and webmasters sought to game the system by stringing together keywords in posts and pages. Thankfully, those days are gone. As Google and its brethren improve their algorithms to provide users with organic results, they reward good, in depth content. Which means that if you’re writing great posts, readers will find you. Period.
Writing for SEO might not be essential if you’re well known enough that readers search for you by name or if there isn’t a lot of competition for your topic. Similarly, if you have RSS subscribers or most of your referrals come from social media, writing for SEO could be helpful, but not critical.
However, for those of us writing how-to articles, it can make a huge difference in traffic. For instance, 90% of the visitors to my memory-sharing site come via search engines. That makes it well worth my time to maximize what I can.
How Writing for SEO Can Impact Style
Following SEO guidelines to the letter can impact your style. For instance, writing for SEO involves repeating a “keyword phrase,” which can be awkward. (Case in point, in the previous sentence I threw in an extra “writing for SEO,” which happens to be the keyword phrase for this post.) Similarly, Google rewards “readability” of about a 7th grade or lower level, which might result in less complex sentences. That’s a tall order if you’re explaining the complexities of DNA triangulation.
How to Maximize SEO without Ruining your Voice and Style
For most of us, it will be a question of finding the right balance. There are ways to incorporate SEO writing strategies while minimizing their effect on your style.
Write for your audience first
There’s no question that some bloggers take SEO too far. In fact, “Writing purely for SEO” ranks as #4 in Copyblogger’s article, “11 Common Blogging Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Audience’s Time.” However, after you’ve drafted an article that provides your readers with valuable content, you can tweak your post to maximize referrals from search engines.
Start with Identifying Keywords
As you evaluate your articles, think what terms readers will use in search engines as well as how difficult the terms will be to work into your article. Once you’ve determined it, using that keyword or keyword string in your title, first paragraph and in the alt-code of an image will help Google ascertain that your post has a depth of information. (If you’re not familiar with alt-codes in images, check out the Using Images and Graphics section of our Resources page.)
Use a Plugin
Though a basic understanding of SEO is helpful, search engine algorithms are complex and are constantly changing. In fact, it’s probably too much for the average blogger to keep track of. If you’re using WordPress.org, you can let an expert walk you through these strategies via a SEO plugin. I recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast. As you can see in the screenshot below, Yoast’s plugin provides an analysis of each post’s SEO. The more green lights you have, the better.
Read More on How to Do It
Look under the Best Practices section of our Resources page; we have several great articles listed.
Originally posted at TheRoadLessWritten.com, this post has been revised and updated for GeneaBloggersTRIBE readers by Team Member Laura Hedgecock, who blogs at TreasureChestofMemories.com. She is the author of Blogging for Family History: How Launch a Blog and Make It Successful and Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life. © 2017