Content Writing for SEO: How to Do It Without Feeling Spammy

Content Writing for SEO: How to Do It Without Feeling Spammy

In high-school, I was a total arts geek and enrolled in a performing arts magnet program. I learned the craft of technical theater and became a behind the scenes/backstage guy.  I helped build the sets, worked on costumes, installed lighting equipment, managed props, controlled the spotlights and had my hand in anything related to the stagecraft of a show.  Essentially, my job was to make the actors and performers look as good as possible by making sure they had the best technical support.

The same thing can be said in regards to SEO and content.  It’s the SEO’s job to get the content the attention it deserves from search engines by making sure it’s technically sound.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll never be an award winning copywriter.  While I do enjoy blogging, I’m grateful to have editors and friends who read and modify my articles before they go live.  And I know my strengths and weaknesses well enough to know that my optimization abilities are far greater than my content writing.  So, I’d like to spend a little time talking about the technical side of SEO writing as opposed to how to write good content.

A common theme I hear regularly goes a little something like this, “Forget about search engines and focus on users.”  That line of broad advice is bogus and isn’t going to help you increase your organic search performance.  Let’s tweak that advice to make it a bit more realistic and actionable.  I say, “Write content for users and structure it for search engines”.

When I started at Deluxe back in November of 2012, there were a few important “CEO terms” that we weren’t visible for.  Highly competitive keywords that I knew would take a little old-fashioned SEO finessing to gain traction on.  After a few minor content tweaks and technical SEO adjustments, we made it to page one in no time.  When I say SEO adjustments, I don’t mean keyword stuffing, I’m talking about legitimate old-school keyword optimization.  While there are a whole new set of bells and whistles that search engines have introduced over the years—the basics are still the same and they still work.  Don’t let the “experts” tell you otherwise.

Here are a few tips to optimize your content without making your content spammy:

  • Optimize Your Page Titles <title></title>:  Make sure that important keywords are included as close to the beginning of the title tags as possible.  Write titles naturally, but get the mission critical keywords in up front.
  • Headlines and Sub Headlines <h1-h2>:  Make sure these structural tags exist in your page templates.  Include targeted keywords in the headlines and subheadlines.  Again, try to get keywords to as close as the beginning of these tags as possible.  Don’t stuff or spam.  Write it naturally.
  • Body Content:  It’s important to have body content where targeted keywords can be included naturally.
  • Images:  Make sure that you’ve got ALT attributes appended to images and that keywords are included as appropriate.
  • URL:  Include targeted keywords in URLs.
  • Navigation:  Ensure that links point to targeted pages from a navigational element and ensure the link contains the targeted keyword
  • Use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI):  If you’re not familiar with LSI, read up on it.  You make quite a few keywords fit in readable fashion if you get the LSI right.
  • Schema Mark-Up:  Google and BingHoo have made it easy for you to give them more information about your content.  Make sure that you’ve semantically marked up your content using Schema.org constructs

One last tip:  Whenever I finish working on a page, I print it out and read it aloud.  If it sounds unnatural in any way, I tweak it again.  Once I’ve finished smoothing out the content, I’ll pass it on to a copywriter to further iron out any of wrinkles.

At the end of the day, it’s possibly to write highly optimized “non spammy” content by taking advantage of the technical elements that HTML provides us.

And with that, I wish you the best on your SEO writing.

About Adam Dince

Adam Dince is the Director of Earned Media for Deluxe, E-Business. Find Adam on twitter @AdamDince.

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  • Caitylady

    Can you elaborate on what it means to “use” Latent Semantic Indexing from an SEO’s perspective? I’ve read pretty exhaustive resources regarding how it works, but I’n having trouble determining how this changes what I do on a daily basis. Should we no longer target pages to a primary single search term? I’ve never had success with that before – my experience is target too many terms, and rank for none of them. Are there indications that Google is using LSI for search results? And how does this change what we do as SEOs from a practical standpoint?

    • http://www.adamdince.com Adam Dince

      Hi Caity,

      LSI can be used in a variety of different ways. Here’s an example:

      Let’s say you want to target the term “mortgages low rates”. You’d be hard pressed to include that in exact match within a sentence or page title in a way that reads well to users. So, you could target that term using LSI by writing “mortgages have historically low rates.

      While this is not as powerful as exact match, it does work if done correctly. How that’s done appropriately holistically on a page is a whole blog post in itself.

      Regarding your question about only targeting one term per page. I would recommend targeting three to four terms if you can. If you’re doing SEO well, you can definitely rank for all three or four. I do it all the time.

      Hope this helps.

  • NDAMONA N HEITA

    I AM CONSELLING PEOPLE WITH MY NATURE KNOWLEDGE, I WANT TO FOLLOW MY RIGHT CAREER WITH QUALIFICATIONS. HELP ME TO ENROLL PLEASE. I AM VERY SERIOUS WITH FUTHERING MY STUDY . THANK YOU FOR POSITIVE RESPOND PLEASE.

  • http://davidmarkovich.com David Markovich

    Great article and thanks Adam for posting it.
    Just had one question why is your title not is text?

  • http://kashmirtrek.com/ Mark

    It really helped me but what about the keywords on header and also on the footer.

    I have heard it should be 2.5% is that ture ?

    thanks in advance

  • http://www.talkaboutcreative.com.au/seo-content/seo-content-creation.aspx Talk About Creative

    Great blog, the points you have made are really useful. In my experience it is some of the more important factors that are often neglected, such as headers, keyword research, formatting etc. It is important to provide quality content on your site, but also cater to search engine requirements as well.

  • http://www.workingspells.co.za Spiritual

    This article is helpful and saves time,thanks Adam

  • Ralph Waldo Paradero

    This is a great post. Let’s get over with that spamming activity and focus on the good quality content. Being the best content writers is a huge responsibility but a fulfilling on your part.