SEO tip: Why you should write for humans, not computers

Boost SEO rankings and conversions with writing people actually want to read

For years, the SEO guys have been telling us how to make content SEO-friendly – get your keywords in there, write some nice meta information and most importantly, never stop thinking about your Google rankings. But, umm… what about the actual people reading your content? Among all the tech wizardry, it’s easy to forget that you’re writing for them, after all. 

Here’s how to refocus on your readers and why that’s the best way to get you to the top.

 

RankBrain – the AI that makes readers more important 

Google’s AI tool RankBrain, part of the Hummingbird Algorithm, is remarkable in that it assesses searches in a more human-like way. It can figure out what you actually mean by your search, rather than just matching up keywords. For example, instead of connecting up the search term “Barack Obama wife” to articles where the ex-president had been seen out with his wife, it’ll get that the user wants to read about Michelle herself. 

And there’s more good news for you. RankBrain looks at user behaviour, not just what keywords you’ve got in there. If you offer excellent, useful and comprehensive information, people will stick around on your site – and even share or link to it. RankBrain will notice, boosting how authoritative your website is considered. That means great content doesn’t just boost conversions, it’s a crucial part of driving traffic, too. 

And as a cherry on top, it means you can worry less about the algorithms and instead start zeroing in on your readers – write about what they’re interested in, what they want to know, the problems they’re looking to solve – in language that makes the most sense. Here’s how:

 

Place your keywords wisely

SEO keywords may be technical, but they also stem from natural human thought patterns. Think about what words you would use to find your content and chances are other people will think the same. Studies of the Google algorithms suggest the best places to put these keywords are headlines, sub-headings and meta titles and descriptions. 

 

Create one great piece, not many lookalikes 

Old search theory was to hit upon a keyword and then create as many different content pieces as possible, optimised for slight variations – one article optimised for ‘vets Waikato’ and another for ‘top Waikato vets’, for example. RankBrain, and the algorithm itself, is smarter than that. So, once you have a topic, just write one really good piece with keywords people will actually use. 

 

Evoke emotion in your readers

This is just, you know, good writing 101, but since SEO rankings are about getting people to take action, the best way to do that is to get them to feel things. Be descriptive and channel emotion so strongly they’ll have to click through to your website, stay a long time and then share. 

Here’s what I mean:

SEO Marketing – 2018 Guide

This does a good job of describing the content, but it’s kind of blah. Boost the emotion by thinking about what really matters to your audience. Here is a way you could do that (remember you still need keywords in there, so your audience knows that they’re in the right place).

Why Your SEO Marketing Guy is Terrified (and Why It’s Good News)

 

Offer content that has it all going on

A clear, concise headline will help drag readers to your site, but to keep them there you need to have what they’re looking for. Put the juiciest morsels at the top of the story then fill up the rest with content people are hungry for. Make sure to split it up into readable sections — subheadings and bullet points are your best friends.

 

Write for humans and you’ll see results 

This should all come as a relief – you can start writing for humans and not for Google. While the AI is what will rank your work, the humans are the ones sending the data to RankBrain. Think about the keywords that humans would naturally use, write fulsome content that gives the readers what they want and make it a pleasure to read.

By keeping your audiences engaged and happy, you’ll boost your Google ranking with far less stress than the SEO of ye olden days. 

Helen Steemson

The lead copy writer and creative director at Words for Breakfast. She spends much of her time working with the copy writing team across a variety of projects.