Writing For People And Search Engines
Writing for the search engines is much different than writing in any other medium. Search engines are finicky, but they love text, so you're talking thier language. When writing your web content, it's important to to keep the following three things in mind.
1. What You Want the Reader to Do: While writing your content, keep the overall objective of the page in view. Think about what you want the reader to do. Do you want them to sign up for something? Click to another page? Buy something? Visit your store? Download an e-book? Whatever it is you want them to do, keep that in mind as you write.
2. Search Engine Optimization: Remember the search engines as you write too. Usually it's better to do a quick draft without thinking of the search engines first, then later, come back and optimize the writing of the page. We will get into the details of how to make your web content friendly to search engines later. For now, just remember that it's one of those things you have to keep in mind as you write your web content.
3. How people use the web. Know that people do not use the web like we sometimes think they do. People are more likely to briefly scan your writing rather than to dig-in and read it. Keep your content should be relevant and informational and conversational. People don't want to read a book, they want to be informed. Give them the information they crave and they'll keep coming back for more.
Now that you know what to keep in mind as you write your classic web content, we are going to discuss the different elements of search engine optimization. The good thing about SEO is that your page will show up at the top of search engines so that people--lots of people--will actually be able to read what you've written. What a concept!
The SEO Lowdown
Keywords are what drives search engines optimization. Here's how it works:
* People type words into the search boxes at Google.
* Google goes through all the pages it already knows about...these pages are in its database because they've been crawled and indexed beforehand.
* Google delivers webpages that match the keywords the searcher uses to find what they're looking for.
When Google comes to your page, the only way they know it's good for the search is by keywords--period.
More About Keywords
We've already established that you need keywords woven throughout the content of the page, right? You also need keywords in your title. Here's a few other things to know about keyword placement in your webpage.
* Do not overdo it. Don't gross people out by sticking keywords everywhere. That's not good business. Be discreet when inserting keywords in your website content (hint, hint).
* If you are optimizing for a certain keyphrase, you must keep the entire phrase in tact throughout the page content for the keyword phrase to have any affect on SEO.
* The keywords you should use should be carefully picked out and are always industry and subject specific.
* Optimize for one to two keywords or phrases per page, with the exception of the homepage. Your homepage contains everything but the kitchen sink, but that's another article.
* Putting your keywords in bold gives your site a boost.
There are up to six levels of headers in an html document. Usually as a web content writer you won't be going beyond the third or fourth header. Headers are very important to search engines. They use them to decipher page relevancy for searches.
When you include keywords about your subject your article's headers, you are scoring points with the search engine crawlers. Here is an example of the different header tags.
This is an H1 header
This is an H2 header
This is an H3 header
This is an H4 header
There is a really good explanation for why headers exist, but I don't have time to tell you. For your purposes of writing for the search engines, just know they are mega important for optimization.
H1 - This is the title of your article.
H2 - This is the sub-title of your article.
Keyword Proximity in Headers
As if it couldn't get any worse, would you believe that where you place the keywords in your title is bigtime important? It is true. To score more points with search engines, place keywords and phrases at the beginning of your titles and paragraphs. Keep unnecessary words out of the titles. This is a very delicate issue, especially when you consider that keywords aren't always good for the human palate. Therein lies our dilemma. Who do we write the title for? People or search engines?
Well, the answer my friend ... is BOTH. Yes. If you don't write for both, you're defeating your purpose. Why would you write something that repulses people, but that search engines love?
Some SEO people do this. Gross. First, write a title that search engines love. Then, use your noggin to write enticing words drawing the reader into your copy. Here's how I do it.
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See? Don't give up having a compelling title for the sake of the search engines. (God help us all.) What good is having alot of traffic to your site if no one can stand to read your copy. To see an example of this on a live site, look here: http://www.internationalbcs.com/ibcs-payment-performance-guarantees.htm.
Compelling Titles and Headlines
According to John Caples, there are five rules for writing headlines:
Self Interest. Your titles need to speak to the self-interest of the reader. People just want to know what's in it for them.
News. If you have news, get it in your headline.
Curiosity. Don't let curiosity drive alone. Pair it up with other headline writing techniques.
No bad news. Avoid the urge to paint the negative picture in the headline. Be positive.
Quick and easy. Show the reader how there is a quick and easy way to get something that they want.
Links on the Page
The whole web is made up of links. Links help humans get around the web, but search engines use links too. Since both search engines and people use the web differently, you need different types of links for both.
General Search Engine Links: Search engines only index those pages on your site that are linked together. They use your internal links, such as your navigation bars to find their way around your site and make record of your pages. That's why it's important that your navigation be 100% text.
Anchor Text Links: The anchor text link is a different animal. Anchor text effects the page that it is linking to, not necessarily the page that it is on. Your anchor text should consist of keywords. So, instead of making "click here" a link, you would make, get keyword here a link.
Now, be careful here. Remember when a search engine zooms on your page, it follows the links. So, if you want it to read all your content, don't stick links arbitrarily in the page. Be strategic. If you want it to read the whole page, put your anchor text and any other links at the end. Usually, you can put anchor text links anywhere because it is the page you're optimizing for in the first place, so you don't care if the search engine goes for a visit there.
About the Author: Jennifer Ryan is a Search Engine Optimization Expert with The Marketing Shop. Visit our website at http://www.themarketingshop.com/. Sign up for our free web marketing tips newsletter and read more web marketing and SEO articles today.