One of the most common mistakes made by bloggers is that they learn lots of clever SEO tricks and then start writing for the search engines rather than readers and visitors. While the search engines are important, they must be considered secondary. You must always put your readers first!
Who are you writing for?
When you write posts for your blog or create website pages, you obviously want them to rank well in the search engines. That’s what SEO is all about. However, everything you write is ultimately going to be read by human eyes. If you want people to spend time on your site and respond to your offers, you must keep their needs in mind.
(This mini infographic is in lower resolution for the sake of faster loading on this website. If you want to republish this mini infographic, you can request for a higher resolution version. Just get in touch with me.)
Another thing you have to realize is that Google and the other search engines are changing the rules. The entire field of search engine optimization isn’t what it was 10, 5 or even 2 years ago.
If you have been paying attention to the latest updates (the ones known as Panda and Penguin), you will know that Google is looking for content that is valuable to users.
What this really means is that the distinction between writing for the search engines and writing for humans is disappearing. Put another way, writing for users is the best way to optimize your posts for the search engines.
So now that we’ve established the importance of writing for users rather than search engines, how exactly can you do this? Let me share some tips with you below.
The Look and Layout of your website
The very first thing to consider about your blog or website is how it appears to visitors. Before they read a single word, they are going to notice how everything looks. This includes factors such as:
- The theme, template or basic layout of the page. Choose a user friendly theme.
- Colors used on your pages.
- Font size and style.
- Amount of text relative to images and other elements.
- Clutter – too many ads, images, banners, etc?
When people land on a page, they may not consciously think about these points. They will, however, definitely notice them. If, for example, a page is very cluttered with ads and banners, it’s hard to absorb all of the information. Someone is more likely to click away from such a page.
It’s good to use plenty of white space on a page rather than have too much text or clutter. This lets the eye observe everything and not get overwhelmed. You should also pay attention to things like colors, contrast and layouts.
Visit other websites and consider which ones you find pleasing and which make you want to leave in a hurry. You can use this as a clue to designing your own pages.
Natural Use of Keywords
Another area where you have to be careful is keywords. These are words or phrases that you want to rank for in the search engines. In the early days of SEO, people could pump out posts and articles that used the same keywords repeatedly in order to get the attention of the search engines!
This practice, known as keyword stuffing, is something that Google will definitely penalize you for. This has actually been true for a few years now, but some people still think that they should use their top keywords as often as possible. Let met tell you, this practice is really bad. If you are doing this, you have to stop immediately!
There are formulas you can use for keywords, but the best practice is to just use them as naturally as possible. This, once again, comes down to writing for the user and not worrying about the search engines.
When it comes to keywords, you should aim for variety. It’s fine to have one main keyword phrase, but think of secondary ones as well.
It’s similar with anchor text. You don’t want to overuse the same anchor text in a post. It’s better to vary it. So if your main keyword is “best web hosting company” you shouldn’t use that as anchor text too often. Think of other phrases, such as “top web hosting provider” or “recommending bluehost” for variety.
Is your Content Helpful and Relevant?
This is essential for both search engines and users. When you create posts or pages, you should keep these tips in mind:
- Is the topic relevant to the main theme of your site?
- Does it address an issue that your readers really care about?
- Does it provide resources if the reader wants further information? (a good way to do this is to provide internal links to other pages on your site! You can see this in this post itself, how I am linking to my other posts.)
- Is the post written in a clear and interesting way?
You should read over your own content from the point of view of a visitor. Consider if you’d want to spend time on this site if you were just browsing. This can give you an idea of how your site appears to others.
Always write for humans
As search engine optimization continues to evolve, it’s becoming clear that you must write for users. SEO strategies that don’t take this into consideration are doomed to fail! Some techniques that violate this rule might work temporarily, but will harm you in the long run.
This actually makes things easier in a way, because you don’t have to worry so much about coming up with clever or highly technical tricks with which to fool the search engines.
The best way to rank well is to create content that your audience will enjoy. If you do this, you won’t have to do anything extra to please the search engines.