Saturday, March 23, 2013

3 SEO Myths That Scare Writers (And How You Can Use Them to Your Advantage)

This guest post is by Alexis Grant, an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist. To learn more SEO tactics, check out her upcoming free webinar, Easy SEO Tips for Bloggers.

Creative writers often avoid search engine optimization, for two reasons:

  1. We’re intimidated by SEO because we don’t really understand it 
  2. We think using SEO in our writing forces us to be Iess creative

But the truth is, SEO can only help your career as a writer. By adding this tool to your arsenal, you’ll get more search traffic to your work -- which means more eyes, more opportunities and even more money. In other words, there are a lot of reasons why writers should care about SEO.

Here are three myths about SEO that scare writers into not optimizing their work:

Myth #1: SEO is complicated

Sure, if you wanted to learn every little detail about how SEO works, you’d have a lot to learn. But the truth is, there’s no need to dig down into the nitty-gritty tactics that will make your brain explode. Instead, you can benefit in a big way just from understanding and implementing a few simple strategies.

While SEO might sound like a daunting acronym, it actually favors the laymans’ language. Think about which of these terms you’re more likely to type into Google:

  • How to write a press release
  • Components of media package for maximum exposure

You chose the top one, right? That’s how most other people use search, too. And the terms those people are typing into Google are the ones you want to use in your writing.

Writing in layman’s terms benefits you two-fold, because if you’re writing for online readers you don’t want your voice to be stiff and formal anyhow. Writing in a conversational voice helps readers relate to you and helps Google showcase your work at the same time.

Myth #2: You have to write with SEO in mind

Yack. I can hear you sighing already. Who wants to think about SEO while writing? Doesn’t it ruin the creative process?

But you actually shouldn’t write with SEO in mind. Music to your ears, right?

Instead, write like you always write, and then go back later and look for ways to optimize for search traffic. The easiest way to do this is by scanning your work to make sure you’ve included smart keywords in these places:

  • Your headline
  • Your first paragraph
  • Your subheads (also make sure you have subheads -- not only does Google like them, they also make it easier for readers to quickly scan your work)
  • Anchor text for keywords (rather than making click here your link, link keywords that relate to the link)

This might seem like a lot of effort, but once you get it down, you’ll be able to look at something you’ve written and spend only a few minutes optimizing for SEO. For my own work and blogs I edit, I spend the most time on headlines. Why? Because not only are keywords in your headline important for SEO, headlines are also your way of enticing people to click on the post. That phrase is your one chance to reel in each reader, so it’d better be good.

Myth #3: You have to put a ton of effort into identifying the right keywords

Who has time for that? What we want to be doing is writing, right?

While you can spend a lot of time on keyword research, using tools like Google Trends to help you figure the best keywords for your topic, it’s absolutely not necessary. Instead, take five minutes and just use your brain. (You could also read this post Robert wrote on keywords for writers.)

What would YOU type into Google if you were trying to find the article you just wrote? How would you describe whatever you’re looking for in layman’s terms? Who, exactly, is your target audience?

Try to look at your post like the reader would. For example, if you’re writing for writers, make sure the word “writers” is in your headline. But if you’re writing a post about dogs that you’re hoping pet owners will read, don’t include “pet owners” in your headline because most people wouldn’t type that into Google. Instead, include the keyword your target audience would use to search for that information on Google; in this case, that’s probably something like “dogs” or “pets.”

Using the right keywords in your headline won’t only help you rank high in Google results, it will also help readers find your post, quickly understand what it’s about and, most importantly, click on it.

Yes, it will help humans find and click on your work. Because that’s what this is really about. Sure, you’re optimizing for Google, but you’re really optimizing for people. You’re helping people find you. And the more people who find and read your writing, the better.

This guest post is by Alexis Grant, an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist. To learn more SEO tactics, check out her upcoming free webinar, Easy SEO Tips for Bloggers.


Vidya Sury said...

Interesting post, and I am guilty of believing these myths at one point. Now I know better (I think!). You're right about writing and then SEO'ing the post! Coincidentally, my latest post is about SEO for bloggers.

I must confess though that I wish I could just write and be happy! :D

Thanks, Alexis!
And thanks, Bob! Always enjoy your newsletters!

Maggid said...

Thank you! You have given me a valuable tool here . .

Chuck said...

Alexis is awesome. Thanks for the guest post.

Unknown said...

Another great SEO tactic is guest blogging. Use the keywords you want to optimize on your own blog as the text for the link back to you in the byline. Google sees these links from highly trafficked and reputable sites, thus making your site seem trustworthy as well.

Shel Harrington said...

Thanks for simplifying this topic, Alexis! Appreciated the suggestion in the last comment, too.

Catherine Kane said...

Great article. It puts SEO in easy terms and makes it seem workable after all.