Most people agree that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important, as is content that provides real value. Striking the right balance between the two can be very challenging. When these elements are poorly combined, your pieces will be forgettable at best. At worst, you’ll see all the time and money invested into writing and researching your content and SEO amount to nothing.
However, an optimized article with crisp writing is sure to draw in readers, and guarantee they’ll stick around. What’s more, you’ll give your content the best possible chance of ranking highly in search engines.
Fundamentals of Good Writing
In short, good writing is a mixture of subjective and objective qualities. In order to understand how to write well, it’s important to recognise how these qualities influence the creation of great content. What’s more, given that most people read just 20% of the words on a web page, writing quality content is imperative to help them connect with it.
Every writer has their own individual style, vocabulary, and way of writing; this is totally okay. In fact, an essential part of producing good writing requires a writer to find their own “voice.” Rather than looking to a uniform style that mirrors all writers before them, a good writer usually breaks the mold and offers something fresh to their audience.
Good writing is a mixture of a number of elements:
- A conversational, active voice that speaks to the reader, using pronouns that refer directly to them.
- Concise sentences and paragraphs, of no more than 20 words and five sentences respectively.
- A clear hierarchy and heading structure.
- Various additional contextual elements, such as images and bulleted or numbered lists, to help increase readability.
Good writing is just as valuable in the digital era as at any other time in history. Ultimately, the “rules” of good writing are essential for presenting captivating and compelling content – and so is optimizing that content for search engines.
Essentials of Good SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essentially how you present your content to search engines in order to earn a high ranking. It’s ultimately the ‘great leveler’ for online business marketing.
For example, a small business with quality content and brilliant SEO will likely outrank those in search engine results who don’t pay attention to SEO. Given the importance of ranking on the first page of a search engine, SEO is an essential consideration for any marketing strategy.
The danger comes when a marketing strategy is formed using SEO exclusively. Certainly, SEO plays a part in helping to initially draw visitors to your website. Yet if your site’s content is poor, they’ll not stay around for long.
While SEO is a rabbit hole you may risk falling down, there are some simple elements to consider:
- Use a clear hierarchy, and categorize and tag your posts accordingly (if necessary).
- Organically include a suitable focus keyword throughout your content.
- Write a descriptive meta description, and include the focus keyword.
There are many more considerations to make here, and trying to do so without assistance could leave you scratching your head.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools that can help you. For starters, sites such as Moz offer a collection of free tools to help you find focus keywords, research suitable niches and websites, and much more.
To carry out on-page SEO, you’ll want to turn to a writing solution such as Hemingway. While this isn’t strictly an SEO tool, many of the readability metrics it uses help significantly with optimizing your site’s content.
Finally, WordPress users have access to arguably the best tool available, Yoast SEO. This plugin carries out an SEO check on your content, and uses a traffic light system to highlight where you need to make improvements. In short, it’s both essential and valuable for any WordPress users concerned about their search optimization.
How to Strike a Balance
Resolving the tension between content writing and SEO must begin with your digital strategy. If it’s not pursued in an effective way, any planning will be ultimately useless.
The difficulty in doing so here is obvious. You’ll likely begin writing with an outline of the information you want to convey. However, a data analyst begins their work at the opposite end, having carried out the necessary research into the most impactful SEO keywords and other aspects.
Trying to supplement one with the other after the fact usually ends up being a poor approach. For example, a writer may be given a list of keywords to shoehorn into a finished piece.
A much better approach is to take the time before writing to research and generate suitable keywords. This includes seeking to identify keywords that rank highly, but also fit naturally into the content’s topic. This can still require a bit of tinkering along the way, but beginning your content creation by thinking about SEO, then creating a structure and narrative to suit, will reap the greatest rewards.
Striking the right balance between quality writing and SEO can be a challenging task. Good writing requires planning and precision, and while adding focus keywords is necessary for search optimization, it can make this process harder given that quality writing and SEO often have different goals.