Work from Home Resources Blog: Who Reads Your Writing?
First and foremost, you should be writing for your readers. Your content should be centered on your target audience and your aim should be toward giving advice and adding value to something your readers find on your site. However, many companies write for reasons aside from reader experience; in particular SEO. For those who are unfamiliar, SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and is a way for search engines to find content and determine where it falls on the search engine pages. The search engines use an algorithm that looks for several different components—duplicate content, keyword stuffing, doorway pages, etc.—and then it ranks the pages according to quality.
Now every company knows that it is important to show up on search engine pages. Whether you’re starting a small business or a veteran business owner, this is a great way to drive traffic to your site. For this reason, many companies write specifically for SEO purposes. They do keyword research, write content based on that keyword, and fit unnatural keywords into an article just so the search engine bots will find the article and deem it “quality.” In some cases, there is nothing wrong with writing for SEO, but there is something wrong with writing only for SEO:
- Search engines do not like websites that write strictly for SEO. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to catch this, and sites have been getting away with it for some time.
- Readers do not like sites that write strictly for SEO because the content is not catering to their needs.
- Your website will surely never win any awards or special mentions in the online world. Editors and other website owners don’t like when content is written specifically for SEO.
- You will have a bad reputation. Although you may show up on page one of a search engine page, no one will want to stay on your page for more than a few seconds because there is nothing of value.
- You run the risk of getting penalized if the search engines do find out you’ve been writing (or even creating pages) specifically for SEO and not readers.
What many businesses don’t realize is that it is possible to get to the top of search engines if you write for your readers. This will boost your traffic, people will want to link back to your site when writing their own content, and you will eventually find your way to the top of search engine pages. If you think you’re ready to change your ways and start writing for readers instead of bots, consider a few of these changes you’ll need to make:
5 Ways Writing for Readers is Different than Writing for Search Engines
- You need to write your content assuming it will be shared.
When you write content for readers, readers will want to share this content via their social networks. This means that when writing, you need to be conscious of what you promise and what assumptions you make. If you’re writing strictly for SEO you are likely writing in generalities, but writing for your readers is more personal. You cannot say “all of the customers at my last job weren’t nearly as much fun as you” because this could get back to your old customers. You also can’t offer a great deal to some people one week and then a mediocre deal to some the next week. I think you will find that writing in this way really does use a conscious effort.
- You must be completely open and honest when you have made a mistake.
If you’re really going to focus on writing for your readers, you have to acknowledge when something bad has happened with your company. If someone has a complaint, you cannot simply keep quiet about it because that customer won’t keep quiet about it. They will surely put a negative comment on your website and share it on all of their social networks. For this reason, it is important that your content changes as things like this happen. If there is something that needs to be addressed, you will need to address it through the content on your website (mainly because it probably began through content on your website).
- Variety is important when it comes to content.
Generally, when a website is only focusing on SEO they are focused on one or two specific keywords. This can get boring for readers because the general topic of the content is so similar. When you’re writing for readers, you want to make sure you have a variety of different topics on your website. The topics can fall under a general umbrella such as “business,” but each article should be something different about business. Not only that, but it helps to have content written in different forms. For example, you do not want an entire website full of “Top 5 Things” type blogs or a website full of only opinions.
- The content will not always be about you and your company.
While SEO is focused on your company, writing for readers is about being honest. Giving credit where credit is due is a great way to show that you are active in the online community. This will increase your exposure because whomever you are discussing will likely want to pay it forward and do the same for you. Even if they don’t, you have their audience looking at your content because they recognize a name or a blog you are referencing. All in all, this is a great way to connect and seem “real” to your readers.
- Have a conversational and informal tone.
You don’t always have to sound informal when trying to write for your readers, but it can help. Even if your website is very serious and centered around facts, you can offer a conversational tone that will help make things easier to understand. After all, if you’re writing for readers, you want to sound like a reader. If you’re writing for the bots, well then you can sound like a robot.
Amanda DiSilvestro is the Editor-in-chief for Plan, Write, GO. She has been writing about all things digital marketing, both as a ghostwriter, guest writer, and blog manager, for over 10 years. Check out her blogging services to learn more!