Ah, Google. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love-hate relationship with this top search engine. Google’s complex search algorithm likes to keep SEO copywriters guessing. No one quite knows how it works. If they say they do, they are spinning tales. Following Google’s webmaster guidelines can help somewhat, but it is not a complete roadmap for search-ranking success.
When Google first launched, it only updated its algorithms a few times during the early years. Now, it makes thousands of changes every year, frustrating SEO experts frantically trying to keep their clients at the top of Google search results. Why do we even bother, you ask? Nearly 87 percent of global users turn to Google to find what they need. SEO copywriters and web designers feel pressured to play the Google game to get their clients found online. It rarely ends well.
Playing the Google game hurts your brand
For many years, SEO copywriters would awkwardly plug industry-relevant keywords into on-page copy, hoping to attract the favor of the almighty Google. Sure, Google found their content. It may have even rewarded it with the number-one spot on page one of search results for the ranking keyword. The problem is that the content was written for an algorithm and not real people. Real people tend to find keyword-stuffed jargon disinteresting (and that is being kind about it). I have read some truly awful copy online from writers trying to get Google’s attention while forgetting their target audience.
Herein lies the problem of playing the Google game. Your content is unreadable. Peppering your content with industry-relevant keywords might get traffic to your site, but what happens once they are there? Do they connect with your brand in an engaging and meaningful way? Or do they take one look at the nonsensical words that were super appealing to Google (but not so much for real customers) and show themselves the door?
Playing the Google game can hurt your brand. Putting people first is a better solution.
Why you must write for real people
Real people like to have their questions answered. After all, that is why they turned to a search engine in the first place. Maybe they were looking for an auto repair shop near them or checking out reviews for a restaurant. What they were not seeking was content sprinkled with SEO keywords in sentence after sentence that all say the same thing without ever really addressing their concern. Some SEO experts claim it is too difficult to write for both people and search engines. I agree that it is more challenging but not impossible. Storytellers who know how to leverage the power of SEO can do both.
Here are four ways to put people first in your copy that guarantees results.
Put people first, SEO keywords second
Digital content should rank well with search engines, but never at the expense of your target audience. It is entirely possible to craft engaging content that sucks readers in while also tickling the fancy of search engines like Google. What is the magical secret? Putting people first and SEO keywords second. Weave a tale that turns readers into the heroes of their journeys with your brand. Toss in a few well-placed industry keywords and – voila! – you have the magic recipe for appealing to both people and web crawlers.
Not sure you can master the art of putting people first in your content? No worries, mates. That is why SEO copywriters exist. Drop us a line here at The Write Reflection™ and we can arrange a time to chat about your needs.
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for 25 years.