The Consequences of Writing Just to Please Search Engines

October 03, 2014

If you’re a writer, business owner or anyone with an idea as to how the online marketing world works, you know that it’s crucial to keep the search engines (Google) happy. If you don’t, your carefully crafted stories, posts, sales pitches and web pages will be relegated to the internet garbage heap and no one will be able to find them. 

You also know that keeping Google happy means keeping up with all the latest algorithm changes, so you’re on the right side of their best practices at all times. Careless link building is gone, keyword stuffing is gone, now it’s all about content. Your content must be useful and it must be relevant to the people that are interested in your business.

However, that same content must also include keywords that let search engines know what it’s about. And it’s here that some writers and business owners make a big mess of things.

Does This Sound Familiar?

When you decide to write a blog post, article or add a new web page to your site, the way you add the keywords can help with the overall flow of the writing or destroy it altogether.

As an example, if I’m trying to rank for “content writing Toronto” in a blog post about headlines, I might come up with this:

“If you don’t take extra time with the headline in your content writing Toronto, you may as well give prospects your competitor’s email address, because your post won’t even be read. Without an engaging headline, your content writing Toronto won’t succeed.”

How It Affects Your Message

We’ve all seen content like that before, right? It certainly contains the keywords that the company is trying to rank for, but it makes the writing very awkward and clumsy.

It’s so important to keep in mind that the people reading your posts and pages are the ones who will share it and the ones who will end up buying your products and services.

Marketing through writing is like a carefully orchestrated dance. You must move your prospect from initial thought, to finding you through a search, to your headline and into the copy without breaking that trance.

Having keywords that don’t belong and don’t sound right can be like a slap in the face to your reader.

Finding a Happy Medium

Of course, if no one finds you at all then your message isn’t much good to anyone. You don’t want to lose customers due to writing that sounds unnatural, but you also want to have the opportunity for them to read it in the first place. That’s why you have to strive for a happy medium when combining the quality of the writing with the keywords that allow people to find you.

There are other ways to incorporate your keywords, such as meta descriptions and title tags, so keep it sounding as natural as possible in the body of the content. Even using “content writing in Toronto” here and there sounds better, because it’s the way people actually speak.

Don’t get carried away with writing just for the search engines and forgetting about the humans, also known as your prospective customers. Write for them first, then go back and make it search-engine friendly after the fact.

Are Blatant Keywords Next? 

Besides, the way Google likes to drop major updates on us, maybe the next one will be the ‘Tyrannosaurus update’ targeting blatant use of keywords that make the content sound awkward and unnatural. Can you imagine how many web pages would be affected by that one?

Stranger things have happened, my friend…best to keep it all natural from the start!

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