How can you blend writing for humans with writing for SEO?

25th February 2021 | Posted in Uncategorised

Ever since search engines first roamed the internet, we’ve had this thorny issue to address.

Do we write for our human visitors first or for search engines?

Reading older SEO advice would give you the distinct impression that if you want to turn up in a prominent place in search engine results, you have to stuff your web pages with the ‘right’ terms. If you don’t, it won’t matter how brilliant your prose, no one will find it.

If that was ever the way, it probably isn’t any more. While we don’t know for sure how search engines crawl the web looking for relevant sites, we do know that the technology has become extremely sophisticated – and high-quality content is vital.

That means you can afford to put your humans first, and still attract the attention of Google, Bing and other search engines.

Be brave and use your knowledge

Whether you’re a business owner or have sales and marketing responsibilities in a larger organisation, you will know your audience. And, really importantly, you know the language they use. It’s that understanding that you can build into your pages for the general satisfaction of all.

Let’s take the example of an industry that has really taken off during the pandemic lockdown.

Sewing, both for crafting and for making clothes, has become huge in the last year. There have been many people entering the market to sell fabrics and haberdashery, finished goods, expertise and more.

If you were to join this merry band, you’d set up a site that first of all understands the needs and aspirations of your potential customers, and addresses those. Perhaps they have enthusiasm but it’s tempered by small budgets and lack of confidence at the entry level. And a rapidly building desire to try new things. So you need clear explanations, supportive content, and easy ways to buy.

And for the SEO? Make sure you introduce as many alternative terms that your audience would use as you can into your copy, but make it natural. For example:

  • Sprinkle your content with the different names for members of your target audience: rafters, sewists, sewers, embroiders, dressmakers, home furnishers …
  • Talk about fabric and all its variations, of which I have discovered there are huge numbers of confusing terms. You could just list all these, but that’s not going to be very easy on the reader. But you can make sure they are there in the product descriptions
  • Haberdashery – now also known as notions. As with much of this topic, the language has become more international as the internet has grown. Now we have zips but more often zippers, while wool has been relegated to a certain category of yarn, there’s thread rather than cotton, and centimetres rather than inches are still regarded with great suspicion by some members of the fraternity.

For any customer audience:

  • Understand your clients and speak in their language
  • Use as many variations of the words they would add into a search, without stepping outside natural writing

Do the SEO research as well

SEO research will help you get into your niche. While ‘fabric’ is a great word to include in a fabric website, there are zillion of similar sites, and you won’t stand out.

Looking for ‘long-tail’ terms will give you a way of finding the audience that you actually want. If you specialise in a particular type of fabric, can deliver to a selected geography, have special deals on special products, appeal to parents of young children – all these can help you target your content to your preferred market.

It’s balance. But if you know you’re audience, it’s not hard.



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