3 Signs You’re Writing for Search Engines

We better clear up one thing immediately: you do NOT want to be writing for search engines. That was a great idea back in 2004 through 2009 (you may have squeezed a little juice out of it all the way into 2011). It used to produce amazing results (not helpful for customers, but excellent for gaming the engines!). In this article I’m addressing you guys who have moved beyond those obsolete techniques, and who are just looking for some quick reminders about how to write for the genuine benefit of the HUMAN reader.

3 Signs You’re Writing for Search Engines

1. You’re focusing on getting your keywords into the content, even when it’s not a natural fit.

Sure, you know that “keyword density” is a completely obsolete measurement (sort of like “How many 8 Track Tapes should fit in a good glove compartment?). But you still find yourself working a little too hard to get that keyword into the content. Believe me: it will skew your creative flair and erode the quality of your content. Just say ‘NO’! The search algorithms are getting very, 3 Signs You’re Writing for Search Engines image writing for search engines or humans 300x300writing for search engines or humansvery good at “reading”. They can “see” the theme of your content, and actually “know” about semantic relationships. In other words, you don’t have to force your long-tail keyword into a sentence, when a slight variation on that keyword will fit just nicely. Yes, go ahead and modify (or delete) the keyword, and just focus on impressing the human reader. Let the engines do the work they’re designed to do!

2. You’re building links and selecting anchor text just to have links, not to help the reader.

Links and anchor text need to be an enhancement to the readers’ experience. For example, you can often write a shorter article if you just give a link to the right place to get more in-depth information. That’s helping your reader! And use anchor text that gives a clear signal about the page you’re linking to. If you want to understand this a bit better, see Market Dojo’s article about anchor text best practices. (See how my anchor tells you exactly where you’re going if you click?).

3. You’re writing an 800-word post when 450 words would have done it.

You’ve chosen a relevant topic – it scratches where your client itches. You’ve researched it and boiled it down to the top 5 points you need to make. You start typing away, and find yourself able to clearly explain the main points, but you’ve only written 300 words so far. So, instead of giving your reader the gift of a nice, concise answer to his problem, you go back and add a bit of fluff here and there, so that you can get up over 500 words, stuff a few more keywords in there, and create 3 more links to your other pages (whether or not they really improve the article). Yes, when you find yourself feeling a pressure to do this sort of thing, it’s a sign that you’re writing for search engines. Stop it! Your readers will be grateful (and probably make it all the way to the end!).

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