Balancing the needs of your readers and the demands of search engines is one of the toughest dilemmas for writers. Stay too informational and the search engines won’t give you any love; stay too keyword-oriented and you’ll alienate readers.
Thankfully, with the right mentality it can be quite simple to develop content that’s both search-friendly and engaging for readers. Apply these five simple tips and you can dazzle readers with quality content while easily satisfying Google’s search algorithm.
Consign SEO keywords to page titles and subheadings
Many SEOs, particularly those that honed their skills during Google’s early years, are surprised to learn how little the search engine cares about keyword density today. A keyword-stuffed article is, to the dislike of black hat SEOs, a modern search faux pas.
Instead of inserting search keywords into your content at the expense of readers, try to limit your keyword usage to your page title and your subheadings. This is far less intrusive and – due to Google’s algorithm – actually far better for your rankings.
Remember that your readers come first
Great content will never struggle to attract links. When you write purely for search engines, you face an interesting dilemma: despite your content being optimized to the hilt, it becomes so unreadable that it’s very unlikely to attract any real links.
Instead of balancing the needs of SEO and reader enjoyment equally, remember that your readers should always come first. Deliver great content and you’ll quickly make up for lost keyword density with high quality inbound links from happy readers.
Write your most important articles as lists
Lists are great for two reasons: they’re incredibly easy to read, and they’re a great opportunity to use subheadings and other SEO-friendly page elements. If you have an excellent article topic that you’re sure readers will love, try writing it as a list.
If you can’t develop your article concept as a list, try using multiple subheadings to break up your article into separate ‘mini-concepts.’ Subheadings are a great way to include hard-to-use keywords, all the while improving readability for your readers.
Link to websites that support your key points
There’s an old myth in the SEO world that outbound links will negatively influence your rankings. Like many other SEO myths, it couldn’t be less true. Linking to other pages is a great way to expand on your content without ‘diluting’ your article.
For SEO purposes, it’s important to limit each of your articles to one concept. If you need to clarify on a particular point, link to an external resource. Better yet, write a new article that clarifies your point, and link to it from your existing content.
Insert keywords after you’ve written your article
Hat tip to productivity guru Tim Ferriss for this excellent tip. Instead of writing his articles around certain keywords, Tim prepares his content and then looks for high-value keywords to target it to.
Next time you’re blessed with an article idea that doesn’t seem SEO-friendly, try to prepare it before you add your keywords. It’s far easier to substitute certain words after an article’s finished than it is to write a bland, SEO-based article from scratch.