How to Write Better Web Content: Writing Tips for SEO and Real Readers

Written by: Jason Bayless | March 13, 2013

Trying to write the best web content for both human readers and SEO purposes? Yes, it’s possible to accomplish both goals with the same document, but not if you pack the page with as many keywords as you can fit. Such keyword-stuffing isn’t just unnecessary; it’s also a turn-off to both humans and search engines.

The key to successful web content writing for SEO and readers is to achieve the right balance between keyword usage and engaging content – and it’s easier than you might think to accomplish both. Follow these steps to write SEO-friendly web content that’s interesting to real people, too.

Know your audience and help them

Who are the real people who will enjoy reading what you write? What are their needs, their “pain points,” the solutions they’re likely to search for? And what kind of content will keep them on your website longer as they find exactly what they were looking for?
Develop different personas and come up with scenarios for content that will answer their various needs. Find different tasks that users can perform on your site and write content based on those tasks. (For instance, if you’re in the financial counseling field, offer free budget worksheets and other helpful content that will engage readers.)

Focus on 1-2 keywords

To avoid overstuffing your content with keywords, as well as to let both Google and real readers know what your content is about right away, choose only one or two keywords to focus on per page of content.

If that sounds hard, it’s really not: Narrowing your focus actually helps you develop your idea and present a nicely organized page of web content instead of a scattershot mess of barely-related keywords. A keyword density of about 1-2 percent is optimal.

Craft your headline carefully

When choosing your headline, place your one or two keywords as close to the beginning of the headline as possible – that grabs the reader’s attention as well as that of the search engine bots.

Write like you speak

Go for a conversational tone, use active voice instead of passive, and avoid using longer words than you need to (such as “utilize” instead of “use”). It’s also a good idea to vary your sentence length.

Keep paragraphs short and use bullet lists and subheads

Writing for the web isn’t like writing for print media. Web readers are looking for content that’s easy to scan and quickly get a feel for the main points. So break up your paragraphs in such a way that each one expresses one point, and use sub-headings to highlight different ideas.

Also, try to use bullet points whenever you need to make a list of items or ideas. Any way you can break up a big block of text into easily-scanned sections makes it more visually attractive to the reader – and more useful as a result.

Revise your draft

There’s a famous quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway: “Write drunk; edit sober.” You don’t have to literally imbibe, but do write your first draft without being over-critical – and then edit it with a much more critical eye. You may find that you need to:
• Rearrange paragraphs to make it flow better
• Reword awkward sentences
• Remove extra words and repetitive sentences (or even whole paragraphs)

Google bots and other search engine bots don’t know good writing when they “see” it, but they sure know what’s spammy. So for best SEO results, try to consistently create copy that pleases both search engines and real readers.