SEO Basics: Write for Humans

SEO is a scary subject for some, and a lot of the “advice” and “conventional wisdom” we hear is based on misinformation from about 5 or 6 years ago. Or more.

I’d like to share a few tips which are really no more than generally accepted standard operating procedures for online writing provided by experts and Google’s own guides to SEO writing. (By the way, if you want to really dig into the nitty-gritty of SEO, I would recommend making Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide your first stop. Once you follow this link, just click on the link at the top of the new page to download the guide.) But all of these tips connect with the basic advice to write for humans, not bots.

Focus your writing on themes that interest your customers. Ask yourself what they would like to read about. This is a hard one sometimes—they don’t want to read an ad or a marketing “puff” piece or a vanity profile. That might be what we want to write, but put yourself in their shoes. What do they care about? What questions do they have? What expertise can you share that would make their life easier or their business more profitable?

Don’t trade a cheap by-the-word rate for quality content. Quality counts. There are content mills out there that will churn out 1,000 words that just regurgitate copy from your website or brochures, and will do it for almost nothing. Unfortunately, that’s about what it is worth. You want quality writing that is engaging and expert.

Don’t base your writing on keywords for robots and algorithms, but on what is interesting to, and easily read by, actual human readers. Google is getting better and better at rewarding that kind of writing.

You can learn a lot more about optimizing for search engines, and it can be helpful. But if you skip the above basic tips, it will be a waste of time—what good will it do to get to the top of search results, if the content, when clicked on, is sub-par and represents your company badly?



Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer. He believes in the intersection between Sales and Marketing.