Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science of leveraging language and word choice in both the visible and coded elements of a website to move a site to the top of a search engine’s results. When we type a search query into the Google search bar, Google scans the entire web for the query’s keywords embedded in individual websites. The websites with the strongest and most thoughtfully selected keywords win the top spots.
How to identify your target audience in writing
The process of identifying your audience can be a tricky one. But no matter who your audience is, the best way to write to them is to put yourself in their shoes. Natalie Canavor writes in her book Business Writing Today, that it is far easier to write to an imagined individual than an abstract crowd. Depending on the website platform you use, Google Analytics or built-in analytics resources can easily help access data on what types of people are visiting your site. Even though it is impossible to gauge personality or temperament from these data, parameters such as age, gender, ethnicity, or location can yield a clearer understanding of who your audience may be.
Once you know the basics, you can better identify your audience’s interest by putting yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, what is my buyer persona’s preferred method of communication? What are the general concerns that people of our buyer’s socio-economic status may have? As you ask yourself more questions, you will begin to have a clearer understanding of how to write for your current customers and potential buyers, and for greater readership within your industry, too.
Canavor suggests, too, that all writers should remember their readers are human beings and even in SEO writing, we ought to remember the Golden Rule: no matter who your reader is, it is safe to assume that they desire to feel liked, valued, treated with courtesy, and part of the team. Keep this in mind as you write! Does your language encourage and invite others? What is the tone you use to address your reader? If you write by the Golden Rule, your content will attract just about any sort of crowd.
How to write for SEO
Keywords within your website are what ultimately will tie search queries straight to you. There are a variety of areas of a website in which a writer should be conscious of their keyword choices. The biggest and most important of these is in your website’s content. Surprise! Content - specifically within blogging - matters. Digital services company Key Medium recommends businesses post 2-3 articles of 1000-2000 words per week in order to boost their brand awareness and consumer engagement. Blogs are a great way to use your brand’s voice to connect with consumers about your product, and about relevant trends. The keywords you use within your blog content will help to snag the search queries of just the right consumers- if you know how to write them the right way.
So what is the right way to write SEO keywords into your content? If you incorporate a broad scope of keywords relevant to your company, products, and services, your site may slip through the cracks; it would match with a wider variety of search queries, but likely would get lost in the dust of high traffic competitors. If you use fewer, specific keywords, your website may lose search query bites due to a too narrow scope. I know what you’re probably thinking: how does anyone win at this?!
SEO content writing tips
Moz suggests content writers go after what they call long-tail keywords; highly specific, lower competition keywords, allowing your page to stand out in a high search volume. This strategy takes a bit of research to execute. Which keywords do your competition use on their websites? Which search queries push my website to the top of the results page? Which search queries push my competition’s website to the top of the results page? You should also consider the differences in mission, services, or products between your company and your competition’s company. These differences are a good place to begin to pursue long-tail keywords.
Aside from scoping out the competition, another way to strengthen your keyword choice is to ask yourself these questions:
- What are people searching for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- In what format do they want that information?
Considering all possible answers to these questions can help you discover new long-tail keywords and new, unique ways to engage with your consumers. The trick is to find concise keywords that are specific to your company and website. Like identifying your target audience, the more questions you ask yourself, the closer you will come to identifying the perfect long-tail keywords.
SEO can take some trial and error, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not seeing the results you want right away; remember, it’s a long game - and you’ll need to be patient. The best way to start is to start! The more questions you ask and the more research you do will guide you along your way to a higher spot on Google’s results page.