It’s not easy being a writer these days, especially if you are from my generation when your first and only criterion was to write grammatically correct English that would pass muster. Okay, so you graduated to writing mush – love letters and ditty’s that were are sure fire winner with the ladies waiting to bloom. Further on in life, your staccato pouring attracted a dedicated readership. Even later, you elevated the “Boss is God” genre to an art form as a spin doctor. But writing to a machine? A series of them in fact – now, that’s scary.
Let me explain. There are giant machines out there – Search Engines – that, even as you read this piece, are searching and collecting data and storing them, in an orderly, ranked manner so that the best fit can be offered the moment one keys in the search words in Google or Bing. And, to do this, the machines have unleashed on the net millions of creepy crawlies – web spiders – that are crawling the farthest corners of the net, including your web pages, looking for the right terms, the key words.
Today we have changed the way we look for things. We just key in what we are looking for and as a matter of fact, after e-mail, the second purpose of using the net is searching. Naturally, in its wake, how we present our content is becoming increasingly important. If the web crawlers are looking for things in a certain manner and order (crawling, indexing and ranking), it makes sense to give them stuff in that exact order so that they may file and rank us. With better rankings will come better traffic, and the more people visit our site, the better will be our prospect of freezing a sale or of engaging a potential customer.
That is why search engine optimized content has become such a rage. The idea is to identify the right, key words that people will b keying in to search for a product and or service that you have on offer. These key words will have to be carefully ingrained in your heading and in the body copy so that the web crawlers can find and file them for the search engines to make your name pop up when such a search is run.
Many people commit the mistake of thinking that it is easy to pull the wool over the search engines. Their thinking is simple – just pack the content with as many key words and meta tags as possible and the engines will be induced to rank you higher. Nothing can be further than the truth, as a keyword density of more than 5.5 will certainly be branded for keyword stuffing.
In school we were once asked to write an essay that covered royalty, mystery and sex. The winning entry was a simple. “The Queen is dead. She was pregnant. Who killed her?” This is a classic case of brevity being the soul of wit and we will do well to learn our lessons here, for SEO content writing is also about using the right number of words to communicate. As a matter of fact, experts opine that the headline should be restricted to 72 characters to maximize the punch with the meta description should be limited to less that 165 characters so that the entire string is visible to the search engines. As for the body copy, it must be more than 300 words to attract and retain attention, but small enough to ensure the reader (and remember most of them skim read) does not move on to another page. Using italics to highlight the keyword, or using them in the bulleted format or even putting them in the subheads are tricks of the trade that can be used at the writer’s discretion.
That brings us to the most important aspect of SEO content writing. Everything said and done, always remember that after the machines and the clones and the algorithms have ranked your content, it will be read and reacted to by a human. A dedicated searcher looking for “answers”. If your content is not capable of giving him the answer he is looking for, then the entire exercise will be fruitless.
And this is exactly what makes SEO content writing such a challenge – what you write has to engage the machine (the Search Engines), attract the attention of the Mathematics (the algorithms, web crawlers) and still be coherent and attractive enough to communicate with the mankind at large!