Demystifying SEO – writing for humans

May 5, 2022 | Online Marketing

What, really, is SEO? And how do you write for a search engine while remaining human?

man browsing web on cell phone

Whether you’ve got a website, blog, or are running online ads, search engine optimization is a term you’ve likely heard countless times before.

For some, the thought of optimizing one’s content for search engines can sound overly technical or even daunting, but that doesn’t really need to be the case.

Sure, there is some strategy involved to ensure people can find you online, but you also don’t want to lose your authentic voice in the process either. 

How does SEO work?

Search engine optimization is exactly as it sounds – improving the quality of your content so it appears in relevant search results. When we search for something online, we are presented with a plethora of pages that reflect the exact or similar phrasing that matches our search criteria.

SEO gives you the ability to modify your content to attract the people who are looking for your products or services by echoing the language they would use to search for it.

When search engine robots crawl through your website or ads, they will be able to understand what you’re talking about and index your content appropriately within organic search results. 

How can I improve my SEO?

The first step towards improving your SEO is quite simple – know your audience. Who are they, what are they looking for, and what keywords or phrases might they use?

The more you know about how your target audience communicates their needs or why they might want to buy your product or service, the more naturally you can incorporate that language into your site or ads. 

Need help identifying what key words work best for you? There are a variety of tools available that can give you a hand. Wordstream and Google’s Keyword Planner are just a couple free resources that show you popular search terms based on your website or ads.

Once you’ve identified the phrases that are unique to your business, you can make a few simple modifications to your existing content to accommodate those key words.

Adding them throughout your site as page titles, in opening paragraphs, headlines and subheads, and to label images are just a few ways to ensure you are optimizing your pages to be more easily found by search engines. 

After you’ve adjusted your content, you’ll want to ensure Googlebots and other search platform robots can view your page just as a user would. That means leaving the door open for them to crawl through your JavaScript, CSS and image files.

If your site’s robots.txt file doesn’t allow access to your pages, no matter what changes you make to your content, you’re going to struggle in algorithm rankings. So, update your words accordingly and then let those little robots in. 

SEO that’s true to you

One pitfall that a lot of people make when trying to improve their SEO is overusing phrases and writing a bunch of long-winded and repetitive content no one wants to read.

Yes, you want to optimize your content by incorporating key words, but you don’t want to lose your voice in the process. The language you use on your site should be an authentic reflection of who you are and written for humans, not for robots.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, your brand is an extension of your personality. When you write for robots, you are removing the personality – or all that makes you special and unique – simply in favour of being found in index rankings.

While a high ranking is good, that doesn’t fully serve your brand. You should be focused on content that is useful, helpful, and authentically you! Don’t be a slave to SEO by writing like a salesy robot. 

Like art vs. commerce, SEO is a balance, but it’s one that’s possible to master. A little research can go a long way towards enhancing your image online and getting your words in front of the right people — your people — while also being true to your brand.