The tug-of-war between SEO and creative content writing service has been an ever-present issue since the dawn of search engine algorithms.
How do you add your signature style of writing, keeping the equal focus on SEO writing? How can you make your content distinctive?
Search engine algorithms are continuously evolving, but the fundamentals of keywords and user searches remain constant. SEO content writing, in the eyes of many, is of a rudimentary in nature. Creative elements are curbed by mandating the use of keywords in a specified manner.
But a creative element is necessary to make content that the reader will like; otherwise all SEO efforts will be of no use. Therefore, to be effective, your content marketing needs to combine creativity and SEO copywriting. Without creativity, your readers will not be engaged, and without SEO, you will not reach an audience. A positive for SEO content writing specialists is that search engines have improved their indexing mechanisms considerably. Search engine crawlers are constantly updated – they now identify more quality-related factors, (e.g. keyword stuffing, word count, bounce rates). Compared to the early days of SEO, search engines today resemble human readers more than ever. You can add some creativity to your SEO copywriting without worrying about unscrupulous competitors who will steal your traffic with keyword overuse, broken links, and link farms.
Here are five simple ways in which you can please the search engine Gods while establishing a creative quotient in your content.
1. Include keyword variations in your content
If you want readers to learn about your product or service, you will have to include the keywords at some point or another. Keywords trigger the SEO. For content to be unique and creative, it needs to avoid one of the basic pitfalls of SEO writing - the over-use of keywords. Repeating the same keyword makes your content less appealing, and the SEO leanings are rather obvious. Luckily, search engines recognise keyword variations of your primary keyword. The primary keyword with respect to your content is the main keyword for which you want to rank. If your primary keyword is “Shoes” it means you want to rank your webpage when someone types “shoes” in the search engine.
Use your primary keyword in the header – there is no better alternative for this – and mention it once or twice in the body. Apply keyword variations in the body of your content – this gives your prose diversity without diluting the key SEO elements.
Concentrate on the intent of the keyword phrase – if the variation of your primary keyword ‘trousers’ is ‘formal trousers’ – create content discussing the modifier rather than the primary keyword – in this case, a formal occasion.
If you are optimising a blog post, target a higher word count. Longer posts allow you to spread out keywords naturally and also give you more space to be creative. Identify keywords based on how Google recognises variations. Stemmings, or word variations from a single stem word, and singular/plural versions are some of the simple variations.
2. Combine catchy headers with SEO
Long headers give more relevant information. The more context you give, the more your post will stand out. Whether it is someone describing seven ways coffee can make you feel better or why car rentals are the best way to travel with a family, there is a central theme here.
Let us dissect these two headers.
The topic of the content is clearly established – coffee and car rentals – but the context here is your welfare/convenience. Readers would identify a relatable context.
The coffee blog – Why is coffee good for you? Here are seven reasons - by Healthline.com, as the name suggests on health. The ‘car rental’ header by Hertz Blog also includes a ‘family trip' theme, so it reaches out to people who are interested in either of the two. The central themes are expertly tucked in an appealing header. The headers could have easily been just plain ‘Coffee’ and ‘Car Rentals’ or ‘Family Trips’ – that may have satisfied the search engine but would have been vague to a human reader.
Apply SEO to long headers by using the primary keyword as the central theme.
3. Quality SEO content offers a Solution, represents Industry and allows Quick Reading
Keywords are not the only way you can maintain good SEO optimisation. Pages with lower bounce rates indicate that users are getting what they want and this lifts your organic search ranking. Your content needs to provide solutions to the query. Your page title and story-telling should seamlessly fit into each other.
Content style should be congruent with the market segment. A law firm's page will need to carry functional, legal prose while a fashion blog will allow space for adjectives and interactive phrases. Reading on the internet involves a lot of quick skimming through. Address this reader behaviour by structuring your content accordingly. Divide your content into segments and use bullet points. This form of content is SEO friendly as you have more sub-titles and segments to insert keywords.
Tinker with your fonts to provide some visual elements. Use bold fonts and larger sizes to specify pivot terms and headers, stress on important passages with italics. Listicles are a popular choice for content writers nowadays. They allow better organisation of information and writers can highlight what they do not want readers to miss.
4. Add facts and figures to your SEO content
Third party validation can help elevate your content. A fact or figure from a reputed third party source emboldens your content in the eyes of the reader. Your empathic observation or opinion becomes more trustworthy. Adding facts involves linking to authority websites which helps in search engines recognising your page faster.
Don’t just throw numbers in the mix. Provide the readers with a relatable context rather than drag them into a rabbit-hole of percentages and sample sizes.
5. Use visual aids to complement your content
Punctuate the monotony of plain SEO content with relevant images and infographics for variety and better user engagement. Visual aids increase the time a reader spends on your post, lowering your bounce rate. Infographics complement your written content and are shareable, increasing the chances of higher traffic.
Take a look at this infographic from JeffBullas.com. It describes the progress of Instagram, its acquisition and features and the traction it gets from users. This would be a paragraph worth of text – encapsulated in one attractive graphic that can be read in seconds.
You are writing for people, not search engines. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others are merely facilitators aiming to provide the best experience for their users.
In fact, search engines also favour relevant, quality content. As long as your idea of creativity prioritises the reader, you can easily blend SEO and content. Make SEO subtle using variations, leverage page titles by adding creative hooks, add facts and visuals to make your content appealing, and tune your content for busy readers. The search engines will do the rest.
Have you resolved the ‘SEO versus creativity’ conflict in your writing? Share your thoughts and solutions with us!