“Does everything I write on my website have to have SEO in mind?” – Common question.

Largely yes, but probably not the way you might interpret that.

A lot of business owners I’ve spoken to seem to lament the idea that they can’t just sit down and write, that their content must have all these other considerations. They view the need for SEO as an unfortunate yet necessary thing, and find that keeping keywords in mind cramps their writing style.

I think a lot of that comes from an outdated understanding of SEO content where people are thinking of hastily thrown together content loaded with clumsy keywords. The idea of taking content they’re proud of and “ruining it” with SEO is then a real reluctance.

Look At Your Content Another Way

SEO can inform your content. Keeping some peripheral things in mind while writing makes sure you’re ticking the boxes, the the content itself can absolutely still be your voice.

If you’re consistently tweaking page content, or especially if you’re blogging, that’s valuable time you’re burning to do it. The only way that time will be worth it long term is if those activities create results. Otherwise it’s just busy work.

Since none of us are in the busy work business, we need to make sure every piece of content we create serves an end. That’s the case even if it’s meant as informational or just to help someone else (and not to be salesy) — otherwise how are people going to find this helpful content?

Here’s a simple example of this:

A home remodeling company I consulted had a blog post titled along the lines of “Ideas You Can Try This Fall.”

To them that made sense, and they obviously assumed that the context of being on a remodeling site would inform what “ideas” meant. Trouble is, that’s not necessarily how readers or search engines see it.

Ideas can mean anything, and the title as a whole is too vague and meh to entice a click if someone saw it that way in search results.

A much better title might be something like, “3 Fall Kitchen Design Ideas To Wow Your Guests.”

  • It includes a number, which people like
  • Mentions “kitchen design ideas” which is much more specific and can rank for things related to kitchen design
  • “Wow your guests” confers a benefit to the ideas, which is more appealing than simply saying you have ideas.

This doesn’t cramp style at all — in fact the optimized version of the title has more style.

And if you started writing the post by using “wow your guests” in the title you’ve subconsciously reminded yourself throughout the rest of the piece that each of your tips need to be strong and impressive. They can’t be bland or “been there, done that.”

It’s easy to get into a certain flow while writing and become all about the facts and information at the expense of style, or conversely to be so focused on style we forget to reinforce with substance. This is part of why starting with a great title informs your content and creates useful mental reminders to you throughout that ultimately means better content.

Think Of Each Piece of Content As If It Were In A Vacuum

Ask yourself the following question:

“If a reader wasn’t going to read through the other pages on my site, and hadn’t read any other blog posts, would this one thing they’re reading now sufficiently explain the topic and entice them to take some kind of action?”

Too often we accidentally write weak content that relies heavily on context from elsewhere, and it ends up being confusing doesn’t engage to readers.

This is even true for the front page of a website. It’s very likely the entry point for most readers.

We need to write all the front page content with the assumption that readers don’t know anything about us yet. They may have arrived from a specific search, but this page (or any page) must reassure them that this is the right place to answer their questions, that we are trustworthy, and that we understand them.

If the page can do these things it will hold attention.

This is another example of where optimizing content for search can focus it. If you are deliberately including certain keywords on your front page it will subtly remind you that that is the focus of the page. You won’t go off on as many tangents, and it will be clearer how to guide the reader along in a meaningful way.

If you’re interested in learning more about SEO in a hands-on way but want to work at your pace, you’ll be excited to check out a DIY SEO course I’ve co-created. Read more about it here!