Perhaps one of the biggest buzzphrases in the world of content marketing seems to be, “SEO content writing.” Of course, it’s important to make sure search engines can index your website, but your content needs to appeal to people as well.
According to Neil Patel, this is one of the biggest challenges content marketers face. But it’s vital to master if you’re going to be successful.
Write for human visitors first, search robots second
Everyone says that you should write for your human visitors first, but what does that actually mean? What does that actually look like?
Even some of the most well intentioned websites still publish content directed at search engines, making it more difficult for humans to extract value from those pages. Maybe that’s because nobody’s made the distinction clear between what constitutes content written for visitors and content written for search engines.
The difference between content for visitors and SEO content
First, to identify content written for visitors, let’s take a look at the “What We Do” page from 1800gotjunk.com as an example. They have two simple paragraphs that describe exactly what they do in a way that answers a lot of potential questions people may have. By mentioning common items people often need to get rid of (like tires, furniture, appliances, and electronics), the visitor becomes immediately clear about what they’ll haul away.
Writing for visitors means answering their concerns
In the second paragraph, they say they can “take away almost any material we can fit in our trucks, without you ever lifting a finger,” and “we’ll remove junk from wherever it’s located, and we won’t leave a debt or speck of dirt behind.” Pay close attention to these sentences. What they’re doing here is mitigating potential concerns that could make people hesitant about using their services.
It’s very possible that people might be worried about having to help move the heavy items, and having to clean up after the company isdone. These are valid concerns, completely mitigated with a couple of sentences.
What these two paragraphs do is directly communicate intentional messages to the visitor. And in the end, that’s what’s going to drive sales.
Example of a page not written for visitors
In contrast, take a look at the “Why Us” section on this other junk hauling website. You’ll see phrases like, “The College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving team is 100% committed to customer satisfaction and offers the most professional level of service in the industry.” And “tens of thousands of homeowners, real estate agents, and other service professionals rely on our junk removal service…”
The entire page is filled with copy that doesn’t speak to visitors but reads more like a testimonial to their success as a company.
1800gotjunk.com covered everything they needed to share with their visitors, mitigating potential concerns in just two paragraphs. On the other hand, CollegeHunksHaulingJunk.com used an entire webpage to say the same thing in multiple ways. And when you look at the headings on the page, it’s clear the page was written for SEO first. The problem is that the customer – someone who needs junk hauled away – just wants to know how the business can help them without having to read a novel.
Other examples of writing for visitors first
Under the “About Us” section for USStorageCenters.com, you’ll find information highly relevant to people looking for a secure place to store their belongings. The page provides an overview of what the building offers in terms of an elevator, loading dock, carts, wide corridors, high ceilings, and an air cooling system. And under the “Size Guide” tab, they let the visitor know what items each size unit can accommodate in a single sentence.
What you won’t find are a bunch of keywords and phrases stuffed into bullet points that are only useful to search engines.
Don’t focus too much on keywords – focus on context
Years ago, the search engines used completely different algorithms to rank websites and return results to users. These algorithms consisted of factoring in backlinks, meta tags, titles, anchor text, and keywords.
Today, and especially with Google, search results are personalized based on websites you’ve visited, and also what your friends have liked, shared, and visited across the web. And webpages are ranked according to social authority – how many times they’ve been shared across various platforms.
Keywords used to be the biggest factor that could rank a website higher when used properly, but today search results are returned differently. Webpages with content relative to what is searched for are provided rather than the exact phrase that was searched for.
Write copy to serve your visitors
If you want to increase your ranking in the search engines, you have to remember that “ranking” is no longer universal for all visitors. Everyone will see a different set of personalized results. And when you can identify the difference between content written for visitors and content written for search engines, you can optimize your own copy to better serve your visitors.