Writing Blogs for Humans & Search Engines
Blogging is an important part of a healthy inbound marketing strategy. Covering relevant, searchable topics in keyword-rich blogs will help them appear in Google searches, so that those who search for them will find you. These blogs establish you as an authority in your field and provide potential customers an initial introduction to you.
But as important as blogging is, it is equally important for the author to recognize who they are blogging for. See when you blog, you are actually writing for two different audiences: humans and robots, more specifically search engines.
You want humans to be able to read your blogs, but for that to happen search engines need to be able to find your content among the hundreds of thousands of blogs already written on the same topic. To make matters even more complicated, what humans and search engines want can sometimes be conflicting.
Thankfully, there is indeed overlap between the two that can help you write a great blog post. Here are a couple important tips to incorporate into your blog writing process to please both humans and robots.
Use Headings Throughout the Blog
Getting in the habit of breaking down your blog posts with headings and subheadings serves a couple very important purposes in a blog post. Creating these sections within a blog post helps improve the pacing and flow of the post and makes the blog easier to read. More specifically, headings and subheadings make blog posts easier to skim.
While we would love for every visitor to read every single word and appreciate the effort put into every post, the reality is the average reader spends less than 40 seconds, meaning you have a short time frame to present the reader with the information they need. Helpful, specific headlines can give readers the highlights of the post with just a quick glance.
Furthermore, search engines scrub the content in these headings when they index blog posts and rank them. Making sure your desired or important keywords make their way into some of the headings will improve the posts ranking for these terms by making them stand out.
Perfect Your Blog Post Length
The word count of a blog is one of the biggest factors in search engine optimization. Meeting basic word count requirements signal to search engines that the post is content-rich and contains quality information that is helpful and worthwhile for readers. While there isn’t a hard and fast rule on word count, many (including the Yoast SEO tool for WordPress) put a floor on an article’s word count at 300, meaning you want to shoot above that mark.
However, for human audiences you have to keep that brief attention span in mind. A blog that is too short won’t be able to provide adequate information. A blog that is too long doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being read from beginning to end. I strongly recommend plotting every blog post you write to have a count of 600 to 1,000 words to land in the sweet spot of being not too long, but not too short.
Use Keywords Naturally
Humans and search engines can thankfully find one piece of common ground: keywords need to be implemented in a thoughtful and natural way. For a blog post to appear when searching for a certain keyword, it needs to be used enough to rank highly. But, if you think the solution for ranking highly is just stuffing said keyword into the post every chance you get you are making an easy mistake.
Keyword stuffing is something search engines keep an eye out for and that can actually negatively impact its ranking. Not only that, but stuffing keywords into every nook and cranny often results in blog posts that are cumbersome to read for your audience.
My advice is to focus on writing your blog with a keyword in mind, not writing a blog post about a keyword. The end result will be not only be a blog that is easier to read, but a post of a higher quality. If at the end you are still slightly lacking in score for your keyword, minor tweaks like going back and changing sentences to include the keyword or inserting a keyword-rich paragraph at the bottom of the post not likely to be read by all viewers are strong ways to beef up SEO value without obliterating the quality of the post.
Need a little extra help with blogging? Discover the blogging tips and tricks to brainstorming topics, organizing your content, and writing compelling and relevant blog posts on a regular basis with this free guide!