Writing for People is Writing for SEO
As an engagement marketing firm, we love content. News pieces that keep your brand top-of-mind. Blog posts that establish your authority on a subject. Videos that show and tell your story. Content is great!
However, Content for the sake of content? Well that’s just bad business.
Let me explain. You know that idiom, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?” Well, the same applies to content. If you put all this time and energy into creating a piece of content but no one is around to consume it or into making content findable without giving it a worthwhile reason to be found, is it effort well spent? Not so much.
See, traditional advertising and marketing tell us that we need to tell a compelling story, pull at the heartstrings of your audience or affirm your brand’s authority in your vertical. While digital advertising and content marketing is more focused on search engine optimization (SEO) and how easily audiences can find and consume it.
I can tell you now that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. While achieving both of these ends isn’t easy, it can be done without sacrificing technical proficiency or good copy.
The Importance of SEO
SEO tactics are constantly changing because the major search engines are consistently updating their ranking algorithms. This isn’t going to change. The importance of search engine optimization is easy to see, though, when you realize that just last year over half (51%) of ALL website traffic across the internet came from organic search. To that end, the average traffic share generated by sites listed on the first Google search results page was 91.5%. That means that more than nine out of ten people, on average, will only click on a link if it is on that first page of results.
While good SEO is vitally important to your overall content marketing strategy, it’s really only half the story.
The other half is, well, the story. A good story draws you in and makes you crave more – whether that happens on paper or online makes no difference. Not only does storytelling for content marketing provide a point of meaningful connection between your customers (or consumers) and your brand, it establishes authority inside your vertical through firsthand authorship of the content (that “thought leadership” buzzword you’ve heard tossed around for the past decade or more).
Simply put, telling your brand’s story faithfully, engagingly and well is the best way to pique the interest of your audience and give them a reason to learn more about you.
The Art of Blending Writing and Search Engines
If you were writing for websites a decade ago the task of telling a good story and getting substantial SEO return at the same time wouldn’t have been an option. They were looked at as two wholly separate outcomes. To rank highly you would stuff your content with so many keywords that it would be virtually unreadable. Today, search engines are a lot smarter (thankfully). We can now write stories that engage and the intent will flow out to the search engines.
In fact, you’re playing a dangerous game with Google if you do try to employ keyword stuffing tactics into your writing. As search engine AI gets more human, so must your copy. So be cognizant in crafting compelling copy that comes from a place of expertise but delivered with a clear, credible and human brand voice.
If there’s one takeaway you get from this blog, it’s this: SEO in 2018 is more about intent than individual keywords. Craft and create your content before concentrating on what the search engines want to see technically. Start with a good story, then go back and add the keywords and related terms and phrases that you want the page to be found for intelligently and without changing the intent of your copy. The result will be a story that both search engines and your customers can – and will want to – find.