Writing for Search Engines
The good news is that to rank well in search engines you don’t have to write in an odd way. You do not face the question of whether to write for search engines or people; you can (and should) do both! In this issue I describe just how to go about it.
Write for People
The first goal is to have content that’s of interest to your prospects who visit your site. Think hard about how to appeal to them. It’s good for each page of your site to be focused on a single topic, and to have at least 250 words on the page. If you’re focused on a single topic, it’s easier to give Google a lot of cues about what that topic is, and it’s also easier for Google to realize that, hey, this page is super-about this topic, so it needs to rank high in search results.
…But Let Google Know
There are particular ways we can let Google know what the topic is, and it’s important to do so. First, be sure to have that topic in the page title–at the start of the title. Don’t start with the name of your company,start with the topic. Make sure the topic appears in the URL to reach the page. Be sure it’s also in the meta description. Because search engines often show the meta description in search results, this could cause the topic to be shown to searchers who have been searching for just that topic. Be sure the topic is mentioned in the file name and alt tags of any images on the page. And, finally, include it in the body of the text and the headings.
Just how should the topic appear in the text? First, choose a central topic term, and a few related terms. Be sure that the central term (which may be a phrase) appears in the first and last paragraph, and then in most other paragraphs. In addition, use a few of the related terms as well. Google knows about related terms.
Finally, you should have a heading a the top of the page that has an H1 tag, and subheadings on other paragraphs with H2 tags. These tags are important, because Google knows that they’re headings–indications of what the content is about.
The Bottom Line
It’s possible to write so that you persuade human readers and still be sure that Google knows what your content is about. It’s important to do both.