How to write for search engines and humans

The main aim of a search engine is to provide users with the most relevant, valuable result. So in that respect it is easy to write for search engines and humans alike.

Search engines look for quality writing – where the author has really made an effort to supply a visitor with comprehensive information. When you are putting your piece together focus on the user, not on search engines.

Providing low quality content can actually have a negative effect on where a site ranks.

Write that content is easy to read and easy to scan through.

Often visitors scour a document for information, picking out bits that are relevant to them. Search engines recognise this and reward text that is broken up into easy-to-read sections.

Ensure content is to the point, and not full of worthless talk or ideas. Shorten sentences, instead of rambling. People want answers, quickly.

Explore the topic thoroughly, taking your audience on a journey.

How to write for search engines and humans

Keywords and key phrases for search engines

Keywords a search engine to decipher the information on your page.

Keywords make up key phrases. A long tail key phrase might consist of 4 or 5 important keywords. Even after the latest algorithm release, keywords and phrases are an important way for people to find your website.

Using key phrases on a web page

Search engines still looks for key phrases on the page, but is much more intelligent at working out what a page is about, so is less reliant on those terms.

Google can now rewrite a search query and will base results on what the visitor has previously searched, their demographics, how they searched and their location at the time of the search. Search engines even add words to the query that have not even been typed in.

Visitors are directed to pages that have built on topics and discussed concepts, rather than pages that simply match the exact key phrase.

Use keywords throughout to make the page relevant for as many searches around a concept as possible.

Choose a few key phrases for each web page and use them throughout. Consequently search engines will understand the page better.

If you write well about a subject, all this is very natural.

How to choose key phrases for your web page

  1. Write a list of words and short phrases that describe the topic you are writing about.
  2. Write a list of other information that is important to that topic, like geographic location, related sports.
  3. From the keyword lists you have made pick a primary and a secondary keyword.
  4. Use keyword tools like Moz Keyword Explorer to discover most popular search phrases (more below).

Once you’ve found your perfect key phrase use it throughout your page copy.

For example: ‘Ski Chalet Accommodation Les Arcs’, ‘Mountain Bike Workshop Herefordshire’, ‘Blueberry World Tea Shop Deliveries’.

If you are location based include your location in at least one of your key phrases ie “Oxfordshire” or “UK”.

How to use a key phrase

Focus on up to two main key phrases, that are relevant to your business for each web page or blog post. Write the content, focusing on those key phrases. The content should always make sense and help humans.

Use the key phrase in the title of the page, meta description and alt tags. However, be careful – do not get penalised for keyword stuffing. Search engines won’t rank web pages that over-use keywords and/or use keywords that are irrelevant to the page.

Try not to use the same key phrases for any two pages.

Where to use a key phrase

  1. The first paragraph should be a summary of the page and should include the key phrase.
  2. Include the key phrase in the last paragraph.
  3. Headings and subheading should contain the key phrase.
  4. Link text should be keyword heavy (links to pages within your website or outbound links).

Tools to help with keywords

There are a number of online tools which can help you determine the most useful keywords for your business:

Analyse your website pages and posts

It is important to take a look at website statistics a month after launch to see which key phrases are working for your website. Every month pages can be tweaked and better phrases used.

Click to visit my page on website optimisation

What not to do when writing content for search engines

Never repeat content on pages or posts. Duplicate content will be ignored and your page could be demoted. Find and remove any text that is duplicated on your site. Even text that is copied from other websites can harm your rank. As mentioned before, do not stuff your pages full of key words. These things can have a really negative effect on your site.

Old or thin content on a website

The obvious answer to websites that have thin content, is to go through that content and revamp it. Do not set out to optimise low quality pages, without first taking the time to add quality.

Take time and effort over your pages, adding your knowledge and expertise. Search engines will reward you and your website.

For the moment, pages with less that 300 words can still rank well, dependent on the uniqueness of the content and if the page meets specific user intent.

If your other pages rank well, your over all domain has a better ranking ability and that may float smaller pages.

Bring each of your posts up to date, as search engines often reward fresh content. But remember to always write for humans.

To summarise how to write for search engines

  • Research two key phrases – be sure they are being searched online.
  • Use the key phrases throughout the written piece –  in the first and last paragraphs plus in headings.
  • Use links on the page that contain the key phrase or link externally to related subjects.
  • Write really well for humans, not for search engines.

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