What guides your writing?

Give that question some honest thought. The purist in all of us wants to say that we are guided by our objective, by trying to prove a point or communicate some important piece of information.

The marketer in us might have a less satisfying answer: a boss, the sales team, or even…Google.

The marketing agenda sometimes causes content to deviate from its most impactful, because we need to fit in just one more keyword. Good writing turns not-so-good when SEO perfection becomes the goal.

Stop Focusing on SEO & Pay Attention to This Instead

Google doesn’t make it easy. But that’s not their job.

There is still a lot of confusion about what Google looks for in a piece of content. That confusion often comes from the fact that what they want changes all the time—according to Moz, between 500-600 times a year. Which means Google’s algorithm could be changing again right….now.

As a marketer trying to keep up, this is frustrating, stressful and at times overwhelming. Yet this same environment of constant change and incredibly high standards is the reason why you and 75% of people in the United States use Google in the first place.

Simply put, here’s what Google wants to see: great content.

A page of helpful, insightful content is infinitely more satisfying to a searcher than a page crammed with keywords. It’s only serving up those spot-on results that Google can maintain its #1 position. They want to see information-rich content that people like, so writing well, writing for your audience and building a library of content will, in turn, help you with SEO.

And by rewarding that content, Google continues to be synonymous with search.

Your content standards shouldn’t be that far off from Google’s.

Google rewards the content that is skillfully and thoughtfully created.

This does make a marketer’s job harder, because writing is hard. But that’s actually good news, because your audience really wants to see great content, too (and they should be your first priority anyway). By writing for them, you will in essence be writing for Google, but without falling victim to its ever-changing ways.

Really, you should thank Google for shifting to an emphasis that rewards you for being dedicated to producing great content that people want to read.

Seriously, say a little “thank you” to Google in your head right now, because great content is something that can help your business tremendously.

Stop Focusing on SEO & Pay Attention to This Instead - Cursive Content Marketing

All great content starts with audience.

Ditch the desire to stuff keywords into every paragraph or to write your next piece of content based on internal consensus of what is important.

That guide we talked about at the beginning of this article? It should be your audience.

Your audience is the little secret to creating your best, most SEO-friendly writing.

Now that you understand how it’s all connected, you can get started.

First, find out what your audience wants to know.

  • Explore what’s trending
  • Talk to your clients/customers
  • Gather insight from key people throughout your company (especially those who interact with current and potential clients/customers)
  • Review (or create) your buyer personas
  • Do research to round out what you already know about your audience

Use the insight gathered to brainstorm how you will approach topics. Consider…

  • How to’s
  • Numbered lists
  • Interviews
  • Q&As
  • Recap of new research
  • Case studies
  • Statistics roundup
  • White papers

And don’t forget format…

  • eNewsletters
  • Blog posts
  • Video
  • Infographics
  • SlideShare
  • eBooks
  • Social networks
  • Workbooks
  • Print magazines
  • Webinar
  • Podcasts

THEN, spend some time understanding the nuances that will make Google happy…

  • Long-tail keywords
  • Quality, substantial content
  • Meta data optimization
  • Written recaps of non-written content (e.g. podcasts)
  • Freshness
  • Social proof

Now that you have determined the best angle and format from which to approach your content, and you’ve taken the time to understand how you can adjust that content to gain even more SEO benefits, start writing.