Content publishers & SEO experts are constantly in a keeping up with Google race. They’re in a pursuit of SEO secrets and tricks (only SEO wizards know) to get to that elusive first page and within the first three results. Even better, get featured.
Google, on the other hand is consistently refining its quest to source out the most relevant and well written content. Each time they refine their approach, websites across the world are affected.
Websites that invested a whole lot into a few select tactics suddenly find out that Google does not validate those tactics anymore.
A winning SEO strategy involves a lot of research and a lot of little, micro SEO tactics to more overarching tactics. What can get lost in this pursuit is the focus on just basic, foundational, great writing.
In this blog, we’ll talk about non SEO (strictly speaking) tactics to help you write better content and also win at SEO – without spending a dime. The best part however, is that you’d never have to play catchup with Google. These principles will withstand the test of future updates.
First, how is content created today (for the most part)?
Content for the most part, is written to serve the publisher. It is a lead generation tool. It is written to get more traffic or to battle with a competitor on the bloody battlefield of the SERPs. Leadgen by definition is self-serving and should should not drive the way content is written.
However, if we turn this around and focus on the reader and the topic, we now are in a territory that will stand up against any algorithm update.
There are a host of articles and SEO courses teaching tips and tricks, obscure long-shot tweaks and research. All of this is great. It is recommended. Anything and everything that gives us the upper hand should be exploited. Because it works.
You might have heard these recommendations: “Keywords should appear in the URL, in the title and at least once in the body copy. Sometimes broad keywords should appear in subheadings and the format of the blog should be at least 1800 words and have certain amount of links…” the list goes on.
These are great. Do not ignore them.
These tactics however, do not guarantee that they will yet be valid when Google makes another update. Google’s quest is much larger and while the nitty-gritty does matter, they have a more lofty vision. Take a wider, a more longview approach with your content.
Here’s three basic principles that will withstand the test of time. Not only will it will hold up, it will in fact increase its equity as Google sharpens its focus.
1. Shed the SEO/Leadgen/Me/Marketeer Hat.
When we write, we think about SEO, keywords, the title, and other technical things. In fact, the focus should be the reader and the topic and how you can clearly communicate your ideas that would help your reader. Period.
Content as lead generation/traffic, by nature, takes the focus off the user and the topic. Instead of empathy driven problem-solving, there’s greed.
Writing is an art. Instead of focusing on injecting keywords; inject personality. Inject solid points that help the reader in some way. Inject empathy. Don’t be afraid to have an opinion.
Here’s some good advice from one of my favourite movies.
2. Basic Writing Principles
My first writing class in college was dramatic. The professor walked in, placed books on a table and then uttered these sentences.
First, tell them what you’ll be talking about. Talk about it. Then, remind them what you just talked about.
Those principles will forever hold true. State your point, explain your point (clear and succinct), recap your point.
Craft great images that backs up your written content. Enterprise blogs are notorious for finding pictures because the-theme-design-requires-an-image. 30 seconds on iStock and problem solved. A generic image that “does the job” is fine.
However, invest time in accompanying media. Find the one that best communicates or enhances your point. Avoid generic*. It goes a long way.
3. Write drafts. Edit multiple times.
Feedback is crucial. Build relationships with folks you trust that you can send over an article and have them read and give you feedback. They don’t have to be in your industry. In fact, they don’t have to understand your topic completely.
Take their feedback. Ask them specific questions
- What did you get out of the page
- Tell me three things you remember
- How much/when/where was a specific thing
- Then ask generic things like if it were too long? Did you stray from the plot etc.
This will help you get your message out clearly.
It is hard work, but it is hard work your competitor isn’t probably doing. It is the hard work that Google will bless. #SEOBlessed
There is no extra tool you need to invest in and neither do you have to be an SEO expert or possess impeccable writing skills. Anyone can do this – today! Right now!
The three points summarized into three bullet points
Write for your reader and be genuinely helpful
Exploit the basic writing principles
Write, rewrite, rewrite, and publish
Time to paraphrase Mitch Hedberg.
I wrote a book but my editor asked me to rewrite it. I said forget that, I just made a copy of it.
Funny. But rewrite and sharpen; using feedback.
Simply shift the emphasis from “we have to write to grow our leads or traffic” to “we are going to clearly explain/talk about this topic and help our readers out”. In fact write for one reader. Write it for your mum or someone you can imagine explaining the topic to.
I doubt that Google will ever refine its algorithm to strictly penalise content that is well written and helps readers. However, Google will continue refining and weed out the hacks from genuinely relevant and helpful content that’s well written. As 2019 approaches, see 5 simple tips on writing better content.
Invest in your content like a wise investor would with his funds. Long term, solid, industry-tested principles that builds the foundation of his portfolio. Markets may dip or surge, but his investments withstand the test.
It must be said again that I’m in no way saying SEO tactics are unnecessary. I’m simply shining a light on the side of content creation that does not get talked about a whole lot.
Honestly, I think this part is much more important. And that’s my opinion on the topic.
If you are looking for help with your content strategy, let’s chat. I would love to come along, build that relationship and help you connect better with your readers and create content that attracts, engages, and converts. We help startups and enterprises create content for humans.
*The pressure to find an image for this blog…