SEO-2To whom are you writing for? Are you writing articles for the sake of ranking in Google? Are you writing articles to satisfy google spiders? I suggest you to continue reading and see how Brian Clark reminds us to whom we should really write for.

Hang around web writing circles for any length of time, and the inevitable “write for search engines or write for people” debate comes up. It’s a bit strange, really.

Last time I checked, it’s people who use search engines, not some other life form. So you’re always writing for people.

Obviously, the debate stems from the fact that search engines are powered by computer algorithms. But as search engines have gotten smarter, writing that pleases people and satisfies spiders is not that far apart, if at all.

Let’s look at four factors that work well for SEO and see how well they cater to the needs of people.

1. Compelling Content

As we saw in Does SEO Copywriting Still Matter?, link attraction is the biggest aspect of today’s practice of search engine optimization. Google looks at the links pointing at your domain, and those pointing at particular pages, as votes of legitimacy. Taking it a step further, Google also takes into account the words people use when linking to you (anchor text) as a trusted signal of keyword relevance.

While it’s still possible to buy links (just don’t get caught), there’s no way to “trick” someone into linking to you. People link because there’s something in it for them in some way, and because something about your content compels them to do it. The smartest SEOs create content that’s remarkable because it’s valuable, controversial, funny, opinionated, engaging, enlightened, etc.

Because Google has tons of information thanks to AdWords, AdSense, Analytics, Google Reader, Tool Bar and Website Optimizer, some see search algorithms moving away from links and more to site usage data (how people actually interact with content). Whether that’s the case or not, content that people find compelling will continue to constitute the biggest factor in search engine optimization.

  • Good for SEO? – Check
  • Good for People? – Check

2. Content landing pages

One smart strategy for content marketing and anyone building an authority site is to create valuable content resources related to the most important topics you discuss. I call this cornerstone content, because it’s the fundamental information your site is built on.

An example of this on Copyblogger is Copywriting 101. You’ll notice that instead of a single post, I did a 10-part tutorial series and aggregated it on what’s known as a content landing page that’s clearly focused on the keyword “copywriting.”

This is a strong SEO strategy because I’m aggregating a bunch of content on one search optimized page. This directs the majority of links to that page instead of the individual parts, allows for easy cross-linking in future content, and prompts social bookmarking and sharing due to the scope of the resource.

But the real reason it works is because it’s people friendly. Given the usual scattered backward chronological nature of a blog, the page is highly usable and useful as a resource for people new to copywriting.

  • Good for SEO? – Check
  • Good for People? – Check

3. Speaking the language of the audience

Whether Google ever moves to usage data over links remains to be seen. But one song remains the same – Google must match up what a page is about with what people are searching for. Which means your words must match up with the way the people you hope to reach most like to talk about it.

Keyword research and the use of keyword phrases within content is the one area where some web writers and bloggers seem to push back, and I’ve never understood it. Anyone who’s not interested in understanding and mirroring the language used by their intended audience is simply not interested in being an effective communicator, search engine traffic or not.

As I’ve said, telling search engines that what you’re talking about is the same as what people are looking for is what SEO really is. But even if search engines didn’t deliver traffic at all, the ability to know and mirror the language of the audience is an amazing gift we’ve been given thanks to search data. Why not use it when people respond well to it?

  • Good for SEO? – Check
  • Good for People? – Check

4. Enhanced readability

What? Good SEO makes content more readable? Surely I’ve lost it on this one.

It’s true. When you implement the whole range of SEO best practices, you rank well with exceptionally reader-friendly content (and that’s why it got links in the first place). Keyword stuffing is not what Google wants. And neither do people.

Let me make a confession. I used this new WordPress search optimization service to evaluate the content landing pages that matter most to me, and I was shocked by what I discovered.

I had gone a tad overboard with my keyword frequency. Not by much, but a tad. That’s right, Mister “write-for-people-first” had not been getting it completely right.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that mistake if it helps you. So there.

When you approach SEO copywriting in a logical, informed fashion, your content isn’t keyword stuffed. It’s natural, and compelling, and artful.

  • Good for SEO? – Check
  • Good for People? – Check

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