By trade, I'm a writer. Throughout college and even in part of high school, I spent much of my time freelance writing. So, needless to say when I made the jump to SEO two years ago as an intern, I came armed with a somewhat different set of tools. Instead of programming, I brought punctuation. I don't have a tech background and I'm not familiar with the more technical aspects of what goes into making a site. Instead, I focus on the content copywriting aspect of SEO.
The most valuable lesson I've learned as a writer who is immersed in both SEO and "traditional" media is that content, no matter where it's posted or printed, has to provide value. The keywords in a given piece of content don't motivate a searcher to share. Nor does the URL structure. Don't get me wrong, I'm not discounting either of these SEO best practices, but from a searcher's perspective, the only way a piece of SEO-friendly content can be valuable is either to be engaging, interesting, or useful.
Before one starts writing SEO-friendly copy, I think it's important to get into the mindset that content isn't just about the keywords. It's about providing something to the searcher that's linkworthy enough to be shared. Oftentimes, many SEO copywriters lose sight of that idea and instead churn out page after page of content that may be well-optimized, but is far from engaging.
After I've done my keyword research and I have an idea of the direction in which I want to content to go, I find it helpful to ask myself these five questions at the before, during, and after stages of content creation.
1.) Does this content offer value to the searcher?
2.) Does it sound natural, or, does it speak to the searcher in his or her language?
3.) If I were reading this, would I get something from it?
4.) Would I share this if I was a searcher?
5.) Is it good writing? (i.e. proper grammar, spelling, etc.)
If I've answered "no" to any of these questions, I go back through my content and see what can be improved. Once I get all "yes" answers, it's time to make sure it's well-optimized. Then, publish!
The next time you're tasked with writing a section page or an SEO-friendly blog post or article, try asking yourself these five questions after you've done your keyword research. Sure it can be tough to take the time when you're under tight deadlines to get out a lot of copy, but who knows? Maybe taking a few extra moments to focus on quality and not quantity may lead to a piece of content that gets a lot more link love than you were expecting.
Mandy Boyle is the SEO Team Lead at Net Driven. She is also a published freelance writer and co-founder of NEPA BlogCon. She enjoys theater, not taking herself seriously, and adventurous eating.