Don’t Sweat the SEO Stuff: How to Be a Writer in an SEO World

Ways to Create a Satisfying SEO Writing Process

If you’re a writer, then you know how to write. It’s what you do. If you’re an SEO analyst, then you know how to research keywords. It’s what you do. But if you’re a writer who needs to use researched keywords in your content, then SEO can feel like a “quick” climb up Mount Everest.

We all hear about how important SEO is in the digital world and how you just simply add those keywords to your writing. But hearing that you need to write SEO-friendly content is like knowing you need to write a compelling intro. Okay, great. Hmm… tap tap… let’s see… more tapping… now how do I find my muse? Novice and experienced, full time and freelance writers alike know the daily challenges of creating engaging content without being told how important it is. The same is true for integrating SEO with your writing in a way that seems natural.

Good writing is an organic experience, with the words just pouring out of your knowledgeable brain – and adding keywords can sometimes feel like such an artificial process. But there are ways you can make your search-engine voice feel just like a second language, and seamlessly apply it to your everyday digital writing.

SEO is Not Your Enemy

First of all, don’t think of SEO as your opponent. That was my mistake my first few years writing online content. SEO is not like talking to my friend at dinner or my mom on the phone. I just don’t use the same language (or “keywords”) in my everyday conversations. I saw it as a massive road block to good writing and natural communication, and felt that my writer’s voice sounded more like a robot than a human – because, in a sense, it is.

Until one day when I discovered Search.Carrot2.org. The foam tree and word circles looked so familiar to all my writing exercises that I realized, instead of the enemy, SEO was just a trendy thesaurus. Once I viewed keywords as synonyms, my attitude changed completely – as well as my content quality.

We’re All Just Searching for Answers

Your SEO keywords are based on what people, real human beings, are typing. They’re trying and searching and digging for more information about a topic without knowing what they’re looking for or what the proper terms are. No matter what stage of discovery we’re in, we all use Google to answer questions – and if we can’t find our answer on the first page of search results, then we scratch our efforts and try again.

So don’t punish your reader because of a misunderstanding or even detest of SEO. Instead, utilize keywords to shepherd your audience toward you. You have what they’re looking for. Now just help them find you – on that first page.

Small Ways to Make a Big Impact  

As a writer, it’s important that you find what works for you. Below are a few things that I’ve learned as a writer when it comes to digital content:

1. Ask Yourself: When writing for any web content and before any keyword research, I’ll simply ask myself: “How would I Google this? What phrases or questions would I use to try and find this page?”

2. Write First and Foremost: I typically write first and SEO-ify after, looking over any opportunities to fit in a keyword or swap one word for another.

3. Spread It Around: Cramming too many keywords in a short amount of character length will not only be a terrible reading experience for your customers, it could also be flagged as keyword stuffing – something Google will punish you over.

For longer pieces such as blogs, it’s much easier to hide vital keywords that are sprinkled throughout. I’ll place my higher ranking terms toward the top (“above the fold”), but only if it makes sense with my given topic.

4. Start from Scratch: Sprinkling secondary keywords is easy to fit in here and there, but strategically placing a vital term in my first sentence or two can get tricky – especially if the term is not the most natural when used in conversation. (Just think how you Google something: It’s often not a comprehensive thought, and hardly ever a complete sentence.)

But if I really have to have that term in the first sentence and don’t know how to fit it in my existing content, then I’m not afraid to throw away my sentence completely and start over. While taking a step back and thinking of how I would use it in a conversation, I’ll then build my sentence around that specific term. It’s not ideal, but it’s one way I can create SEO-rich content without completely sacrificing content quality.

5. Compromise: When I’m editing and find a sentence with SEO that sticks out like a sore thumb but just HAS to be there, then I’ll compromise with the writer and suggest any other locations where that specific term can live but still sound natural.

The End Goal

The goal of an SEO writer is that your reader should never be able to tell what’s a keyword and what’s not. Poor SEO writing will sound robotic, redundant and unnatural. Avoid this at all costs, even if that means sacrificing a specific term. In the long run, you’re more likely to be rewarded than punished, especially as Google continually updates its algorithms to favor human-targeted content. As long as your content is relevant and informative on the subject, you’re naturally going to cover all primary keywords. So don’t sweat the SEO stuff.

Note: I did not use any SEO terms in this blog. Or did I…?