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Is there such a thing as writing naturally for SEO purposes and benefits?

Seems like a silly question doesn’t it? Well, I guess it just surprises me a bit when the subject comes up, gets debated, and usually ends up with someone checking the keyword density and arriving at a ranking conclusion based entirely on that.

MJTaylor over at WPW asked this very question in a recent thread…

Is it possible to write naturally and optimize for the search engines?

Well of course it is!

Look folks, for just a minute, hide all of your tools, especially that keyword density checker. Yes, even your spellchecker… use a dictionary. 🙂

Now pick a subject, any one at all and simply write. Write as if you’re actually having a conversation with someone. Simply write naturally. Once you’re finished, reread what you’ve written and make any additions or changes and title it. Remember… NO TOOLS! Just your brain. File it and forget it for the time being.

Now, pick another totally different subject. Use all the writing tools, density checkers, thesaurus, keyword suggestors that you want. Make all the changes you want and title it. Finished?

Okay, give both pages to someone to read and ask them what they honestly think. You may find yourself surprised at to which page they preferred reading.

Don’t get me wrong, there are tools that can help you when you’re writing for SEO but far too often, people rely solely upon those tools to determine the final product, adding keywords, phrases and text to SATISFY THE TOOL AND NOT THE READER.

Write naturally first. It’s far more pleasing to read than a page that was obviously written with SEO and ranking as its primary purpose. It’s easy to spot those from a mile away and is often no fun to read because the key phrases and related phrases are stuffed into the text every time a “tool” tells the writer to do so.

Natural writing for SEO can have even more benefits than what’s simply on the surface. Interesting and fun writing, even when it may not be the “best” writing, keeps people’s attention. They’re more likely to read it instead of skimming and more likely to read other things you’ve written. More likely to tell other people about it and more likely to link to it.

Dave

5 Comments

  1. M.-J. Taylor on the 17. Sep, 2007 remarked #

    Keyword density is an interesting topic when it comes to combining natural writing with SEO copywriting. While there is much debate about whether keyword density is actually something that search engines weigh and measure, there is no doubt that a page with a density of much more than about 5% will probably feature the keywords so frequently that it will sound, that is read, as though it was written for the search engines, and not at all natural. That’s why I advocate writing without the focus on keywords first and then editing the content to see where targeted terms can be added while still allowing the copy to sound natural to the inner ear.

  2. CrankyDave on the 17. Sep, 2007 remarked #

    Hey MJ!

    I appreciate your visit and comment.

    I think you echo my same sentiments…

    A person following a link, or clicking on a result provided by a search engine, already know what they’re hoping to find…

    Quality information based upon THEIR search.

    Writing naturally, even when you’re writing for SEO, is more than likely going to have a far greater impact than strictly relying on a handful of “tools” that tell you what you need to do.

    Imagine your favorite author focusing on writing for what a search engine *might* like to see and not their readers.

    Dave

  3. Comedy Blog on the 16. Oct, 2007 remarked #

    Welcome to SEO 2.0. I think the slogan is “Cut the Bulls*1t”.

    With search engines changing their algorithms frequently, it wouldn’t be out of line to think that natural writing will be the /only/ thing that will succeed. From now on out, a good on-site SEO approach is to write excellent content, not things specifically for a search engine. No one wants non-useful, spammy, or MFA pages so large scale changes are bound to happen.

    One other thing to remember is people are getting more sophisticated with what they search for. It’s not only one and two word phrases people are looking for now so long tail results can give more significant traffic.

    I’m not saying that writing for a search engine isn’t effective, but you have to seriously question the longevity of such tactics.

  4. CrankyDave on the 17. Oct, 2007 remarked #

    Welcome Comedy Blog and well said.

    I can’t agree more with the the thought that keyword searching is becoming more a thing of “what was” and more specific searches, like actually asking questions (longtail), is becoming more mainstream for the random surfer.

    Listen to your potential audience. Not only for what they have to say or ask, but precisely how they say it and how they ask it.

    Dave

  5. Sam in Austin on the 16. Dec, 2007 remarked #

    I have a real estate website and most people go straight to the property search page. Having said that, I get contacted by people who like all of the additional content that helps educate them about the area before relocating. These pages are written naturally. Sure, I get pick up by G for my most desired search terms and I get lots of long tail results as well. But what counts to me is the people calling me on the phone.

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