Writing online can be tricky especially when you listen to all the experts on digital marketing, SEO, and e-commerce. Do you know if you should write for search engines or people? If you are not an expert in digital marketing, how can you pick and choose the right advice from all these experts? As a business owner, sorting through the slush pile when listening to marketing advice can be confusing.
However, like many other parts of business, the concept becomes clear when you boil it down to the basics. Who are you trying to reach and who is your business providing services for? If you know your target audience and what their needs are, then you are at the right starting point.
Ancient Internet History
There used to be a time many years ago when the internet was newer, when it was necessary to overuse keywords to tell the search engines what your content was about. Posts required multiple mentions of keywords and phrases to give search engines what they needed to match with queries. Those techniques are now black hat SEO – and a website can be banned or penalized with a lower rank – because search engine technology has developed significantly.
SEO in 2018
Search engine technology has become quite sophisticated. Google, Bing, and other search engines can take their clues from context as well as directly from keywords. You no longer have to keyword stuff, you only have to hint. So, we no longer need to write for search engines. We can write to our prospects and customers – real people. In fact, the more personalized and natural your content is, the better.
Writing for Real Prospects and Customers
Written posts, videos, and images are categorized by search engines based on keywords and context. (Remember that beyond Google and Bing, YouTube, Pinterest and other sites that prioritize search results are also search engines.)
When your prospects search for something on any search engine, the results are the best possible answers to the query based on context.
Writing posts, captions for images, or descriptions of videos should be in plain, easy-to-understand language, which real people will read and comprehend.
This concept is important. If your target audience is website owners, then your content should be written in language they use every day. If your target audience is a swimming coach, then your diving techniques video on YouTube should be described in terms used in the sport. And if your target audience is real estate agents, then you should use language they use every day. You get the idea!
Content should relate to and appeal to your target audience.
How to Write for Real People
There are several tips for writing to real people that your marketing director or copywriter should understand. However, if you are writing these posts yourself, you should consider hiring a professional writer instead. While you may be great at dealing with customers and prospects, writing is a different issue. The key is getting your expertise, personality, and emotions to your prospect through the written word. Most people are not experts at doing this.
- Pretend the person is right in front of you. Write to them as if they are standing there listening to you talk. Use language that you would use if they were right there.
- Don’t jazz up your language with excessive industry terminology. If the average prospect for your business would need to look up the term, then leave it out or define it. Don’t lecture.
- Break it down into bite-sized pieces. Bullet points, lists, numbers, headers, and short paragraphs make it easier to read. If it is a description for a video or image, use descriptive words that describe a “mind picture” of the image.
- Mix your keywords (phrases) into the text naturally. Wooden or robotic speech is boring. Imagine your listener yawning.
- Don’t make it too long. Unless you are writing for a scholarly publication, keep your blog post or page to 400 to 800 words. If it is longer, include anchor links to jump down the page.
- Use clear headings for each section. Most people will skim to look for their point of interest.
- Use h1, h2, h3 heading tags to help boost your rankings in search engines. H1 defines the most important heading and should be used once, and is usually assigned automatically as the page or post title. H6 defines the least important heading. Most importantly, if you skip from h2 to h6 within a post or page you break the hierarchy, which is not ideal for on-page SEO.
- Focus on your main SEO keywords for the page or post title, heading tags and URL, the rest should be written for people. Tip: Include your main SEO keywords or phrase in your opening paragraph.
- Link to related and relevant content within your website and outside your site. Link to references for your information if you can. These links add legitimacy to your article for real people and help with SEO.
Track Your Analytics
The best way to find out if your content is getting the traffic from the right queries is to check your analytics. Analytics can tell you where the traffic is coming from and which pages they land on. You can tweak your content until you get the results you need.
Contact us to learn more about creating content for real people.