Have you ever wondered what SEO really is, and how does it relate to writing?
SEO is a popular buzzword that stands for “search engine optimization.” As the name suggests, SEO is all about writing web pages in a way that makes them easy for search engines to find.
At first glance, this may sound somewhat technical and complicated.
Fortunately, I’ve got good news. Not only is SEO not complicated, it’s actually pretty simple to master. In fact, if you’ve ever written content for the web, chances are good you’re already incorporating basic SEO principles.
That’s good, because SEO nowadays is quickly losing its distinction as a specialty. You almost have to know it if you plan on writing quality online content.
Fortunately, the concepts are very simple to grasp. Better yet, you absolutely do not have to learn programming or “tech-speak” to master SEO principles.
That’s because good SEO writing follows the same principles of good writing, which really boils down to one fundamental rule: Clarity.
SEO Writing Focuses on Clarity
Let me illustrate this point by telling you about a store that opened a few months ago just down the street from me, called “Sunglasses Gifts.”
I happened to need new sunglasses when the store first opened, so I stopped by to check it out. What I found surprised me.
While there was a selection of sunglasses in the store, I’d say it accounted for less than a fifth of the total merchandise on display. Other products sold included stuffed animals, women’s shoes, small electronics, massage lotions, and golf balls — all things I wasn’t expecting to find.
If I hadn’t actually entered the store, there’s no way I could have known “Sunglasses Gifts” offered so many other items. Though to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I went in expecting to find a large supply of sunglasses to choose from. Instead, the sunglasses options were limited and I was presented with a jumble of goods I didn’t want or need.
As consumers, we expect stores to back up the claims they make with their titles. I expected the sunglasses store to have rows of men’s, women’s, and children’s sunglasses. I wouldn’t have been surprised by a few extra accessories, like visor clips or care kits.
But when I found a lot of unrelated stuff I wasn’t interested in, I left the store without making a purchase.
The problem was that the store didn’t give me a clear picture of what it sold. As someone looking for sunglasses, I felt misled.
SEO Writing Drives Everything You See Online
The same problem occurs online, but to a greater degree. That’s because your ability to find stores online depends completely on content they’ve published on the web, and being able to search the right words. After all, it’s not like you can take a drive around your neighborhood to figure out what new stores have opened online.
Instead, you turn to search engines like Google or Bing in the hopes they’ll connect you with vendors that have what you want. If you’re in the market for sunglasses with full UV protection, like I was, you type the words “UV sunglasses” into the search box.
From there, you survey the top results. You look for web page titles and descriptions that best match your search request.
In my sunglasses example, I might click on the search result link that says “Women’s Designer UV Sunglasses,” especially because I like the description that shows up below the link: “Stunning sunglasses for every face shape, wide selection with 100% UV absorption.”
Ideally, the site I connect with will have what I’m looking for, and I’ll be able to make my purchase.
At first glance, this example may not seem out of the ordinary. After all, that’s something a lot of us do every day — search a term, find a link, and make a purchase.
But here’s the key: That entire process is driven by SEO writing.
SEO is all about taking specific words and phrases and plugging them into website content in a conversational way. It allows search engines like Google and Bing to look at a page and say, “Hey, this page mentions ‘UV sunglasses’ quite a bit… that must be the main focus of the page.”
So when someone like me comes along and types in “UV sunglasses,” they match me up with that page.
The search engines actually use a pretty sophisticated algorithm to define the main point of different web pages, but that’s not relevant to us.
All you really need to know to get started in SEO is this:
- Good web content clearly expresses the main point of each web page.
- Good SEO in writing clearly connects web page content with specific keywords and keyword phrases.
SEO Writing Always Connects Back to the Topic and Purpose of a Web Page
In a way, the main point of each web page should always connect back to the keyword or a keyword phrase used on that web page.
So if you’re a vendor with a web page all about sunglasses that offer full UV protection, the main point of your page is “sunglasses with UV protection.” That becomes a keyword phrase you might want to include throughout your page content because there’s a good chance people will type it into the search engines.
Or, you can visit any of the keyword tools available online to figure out what terms people are typing into the search-engine boxes when they want to find something. (Note: Ubersuggest is a good one, and they have a version that’s free to use.)
For example, if you type in “sunglasses with UV protection,” you’ll get a list of similar words and phrases people use, along with counts on which terms are used most frequently.
One of the similar phrases that pops up when you enter the phrase “sunglasses with UV protection” is the related term, “UV sunglasses.” It’s also a term that ranks high in monthly searches (14,800 global monthly searches, in fact!).
Because of that high search volume, you decide to use the keyword phrase “UV sunglasses” several times throughout your website. That way, when people like me come along and type that phrase into a search engine, the search engines will recognize the phrase on your site. It’ll list your page in the top results, and I’ll be much more likely to click on it than I would on any of the lower-ranked results.
Really, that’s the essence of SEO copywriting: Deciding on relevant keywords and keyword phrases, and then peppering them throughout your online page content in a clear and readable way.
That’s why SEO writing always connects back to clarity. You’ve got to be able to write your content both so people understand it and so the search engines notice your chosen keywords.
How to Complement Your Writing Skills AND Earn Higher Fees
In the early years of SEO, people would sometimes list the same keyword phrase a hundred times on their websites — this is called “keyword stuffing.” And sure, the search engines found them.
But when visitors searched that phrase and came across a site where the phrase just reappeared multiple times — instead of providing the visitors with clear, readable content — then they would quickly click away without making a purchase or learning anything more about that site.
Nowadays, search engines are much wiser and actually “punish” websites that throw their keywords haphazardly into their content. Those sites get pushed way down in the search-engine rankings.
That’s why it’s so important for web content to be written clearly and to follow best-practices in SEO — both so visitors understand and can read it and so the search engines will recognize the keywords.
That’s also why Barefoot Writers who know something about SEO writing can earn a lot of money writing online content. Not only can you earn fees when you write website content, you can also charge extra for your SEO abilities.
That means you take your content one step further and search out appropriate keywords and plug them into your content in a clear and credible way.
SEO in writing is becoming so integral to online content that it applies to virtually everything you see online. If you’re writing a web page, SEO is relevant. If you’re writing posts for a social media campaign, SEO is relevant. And for both projects, you can increase your fee thanks to your SEO skills.
Though there is a technical side to search engine optimization, it’s not something writers have to worry about unless they choose to get involved in the coding side of websites.
A good way to look at it is that SEO complements, not complicates, writing for the web. Knowing how to use SEO in writing is a simple way to boost the power of your online writing, increase your fees, and bring your clients powerful results.
For more information about SEO writing, check out AWAI’s free training with digital marketing and SEO writing expert Russ Henneberry below.