22 / January 2016, Matt
In the world of SEO marketing, content is king. The phrase pops out of almost every SEO explanation in one form or another; the consistent message from Google, Bing, and every provider of SEO marketing advice or service is that creating compelling content provides the key to online marketing success.
But what if poor writing obscures the content itself? The Internet is littered with bad writing. Many websites frustrate readers because, while they ostensibly exist to provide information to online users, the writing gets in the way and frustrates any ability to pull out that information. Whether the writing consists of ungrammatical gibberish or choppy sentences, this can prevent you from achieving the growth that SEO marketing should provide for you and your business.
While bad writing is usually easy to identify, though, good writing is a little more slippery. It means something a little different for everyone. Ultimately, defining it depends on determining what your content is meant to achieve, and then deciding whether it accomplishes this or not. For a business relying on SEO marketing to build a customer base, it should attract potential customers who are searching online, and then convert those site visitors into paying customers. If your content achieves this, you are doing well. If not, you are missing out on the fundamental reason your site exists.
With this in mind, developing the quality of your writing requires analysis both broad and focused. You must avoid making mistakes that drive people away, but also create your content in a way that helps people not only find your site, but want to stick around. If you build out in this way, you set yourself up to gain an engaged, interested base of customers who keep coming back to you.
The most basic element you need in place to achieve good writing is correctness. Many intelligent people violate grammatical rules from time to time, and a website containing misspellings or poor punctuation does not necessarily indicate that the business owner is not smart. But when you base a part of your marketing platform in your website, the words you present and how you use them does affect opinions. It makes sense; if a company cannot give attention to detail in its efforts to attract customers, why would those customers entrust that company with their needs? It reflects poorly, and there is no reason for it.
You need to proofread every article, post, or landing page you set up for your site. Word processing programs have spelling and grammar check capabilities that provide a starting point for this. Still, synonyms and homophones in language require a manual review as well. And if you work with a content provider, you need to make sure that provider has proofreading processes as part of its service.
In addition to the grammatical errors, you must be on guard for simple factual mistakes. Your website should always contain contact and location information for your business. Errors there can wreak havoc on your ability to connect with customers, and their ability to connect to you. Similarly, providing information on your site that is demonstrably false reduces your credibility in the eyes of those reading your content. Mistakes do more to undermine you than the best prose can ever overcome.
The Hippocratic Oath that physicians take states, “First, do no harm.” Your content should take the same approach. When you avoid basic mistakes, you give yourself the opportunity to impress your readers and bring in new customers and revenue. When you make them, though, they can be nearly impossible for you to overcome.
Besides engaging your audience by writing clearly and specifically, you need to write about what matters to them. This is a place where search engine algorithms and common sense intersect. Search engines want to connect readers to relevant content, and rank your pages higher when they connect what you do to what online searchers seek. And because you want to convert your website traffic into revenue, attracting page views with clickbait that relates only tangentially to your identity and marketing message does nothing to help you reach those revenue goals.
This need not mean that you cannot write about trending topics. Good SEO writing connects current ideas and topics back to the business. 2016 is an election year, so connecting presidential politics to an idea or concept specific to your business might serve as an excellent marketing strategy. The Super Bowl is approaching now, so for many United States audiences, parallels between football and your business may make sense. You need not exclude popular trends or events from your content, so long as you make the connection clear.
This approach requires a deft approach to succeed. Clumsy half-connections between unrelated themes will function more as click bait than as compelling content. A headline should contain both sides of a comparison or connection you will make, to make clear what your content will discuss. If you try to fool your reading audience, they will do far worse than leave before you can convert sales: they will soon cease to be your reading audience at all.
Further, the comparison or connection you draw should carry through your post or article, with increasing emphasis on the side of your business. If you want to drive sales, an interesting article that ends someplace entirely separate from what you can do for your customers might leave readers intrigued. They may laugh or smile or share information with friends or colleagues. But it will not be information that ultimately helps you as much as it could have.
If you write about what matters to people, and specifically the things that matter in ways that will lead them to become or remain your customers, success should follow. Your writing should strive to entertain and enlighten, of course, but none of that matters if you do not bring each piece back to your core message: who you are, and why people should buy for you.
The best SEO writing, then, incorporates keywords into posts and articles build around a concept. You, or a content provider writing the piece, should never worry about keyword concentration until after the first draft. Revisions for word count can then include ensuring the proper concentration of the terms for search engine ranking success. This does more to ensure readability in your content, because sentences already in place can be tweaked to include (or exclude, if your concentration is initially high) the terms around which you optimize.
This approach improves the flow of your writing over keyword-centric approaches. Readability serves as one element of how search engine algorithms determine the quality of your content, so it directly improves your rankings from that perspective. In addition, it makes life easier for those visiting your site because they don’t have to fight through forced sentence structure or phrasing. When your readers enjoy your content, they read more of it. Thus, whether you place your primary content concern with search rankings or reader experiences, you come out ahead.
With everything else in place, your writing works best when it builds a sense of urgency in your readers: specifically, a sense that they should purchase or make an appointment or visit your store sooner rather than later. For the business owner, this likely makes intuitive sense; when someone waits to act, interruptions and interventions reduce the likelihood that the person will act at all on your information. Your writing should therefore introduce a need for immediate action, or at least some added value in acting immediately.
A clumsy sense of urgency can backfire, of course. Some marketing content presents a cataclysmic outlook, and seeks to build a sense that terrible things will befall the reader if he or she does not drop everything and respond immediately. While this sometimes succeeds, all too often it reduces the credibility of the message. On the other hand, when your site offers only a modicum of reason to act with no time pressure attached to it, your readers lack the incentive to do anything.
Navigating this line presents some challenges, but directly approaching it usually serves well. You offer your product or service because it meets a need in the market. When you make clear to your readers the problem you have identified and how you solve it, you go a long way toward building out the need to act. Your SEO marketing content should show potential customers what you offer and how it can impact what they do. It should then lay out the need for action and the cost of waiting to act, whether that cost is in dollars, time, or comfort. A solution to a problem today means not dealing with the problem tomorrow. A clear, vivid description of how you can achieve this for your customers will provide pressure without your having to resort to hysterics.
Your SEO marketing content should maintain a consistent voice over time. Even so, the more you can do to improve the quality of the writing on your site, the more success you will find in both attracting and converting customers. 1st in SEO builds content with quality and readability foremost in our minds, because excellent content remains the most steady means of achieving success in SEO marketing. If you are ready to take the quality of your content to the next level, contact us today so we can start you down a better path.