Plummer Cobb is a writer and communications consultant based in Arlington, Texas.

Writing for Humans: How Keyword Optimization Can Kill Your Credibility

Writing for Humans: How Keyword Optimization Can Kill Your Credibility

Writing articles and web pages optimized for search engines can be a tricky business. To be truly SEO-friendly, you need relevant keywords that are present in the headline, body copy, long-tail URL, and meta-tags. You also need outbound links to (and inbound links from) relevant pages with a good reputation.

Having all of these elements in place is great. But going overboard with them can undermine all your efforts.

I previously wrote about the problem of having a ghost town blog. Let’s consider the other problem that happens with blogs: Writing for search engines, not people. 

While SEO is important, forcing keywords into your writing makes your blog seem poorly written, clearly aimed at a search engine (not people), or both.

For those who don't care about people, and are focused only on short-term ad impressions or traffic stats, maybe keyword stuffing is worth the risks. (I wouldn't know for sure — that's never been my goal.)

But if you want your content to remain relevant and not brand yourself as a phony, be sure you're writing for humans first.

Here’s an example: Let's say you want to look up some statistics on blogging. You punch in "statistics on blogging" into your favorite search engine, and then you run down a list of sites. You click on one, and the first paragraph reads like this:

Think maybe “Blogging Statistics” is the keyword being aimed at here? (He says sarcastically.) Out of 139 words, “blogging/blog” is repeated 11 times, and “statistics/stats” is repeated 6 times. It’s just bad writing, which is always the result when you try to force keywords into your copy and put search engines above readers. 

Some might say, “But the page showed up in the search engine. That means it worked, right?"

Nope. It certainly showed up under search results, but seconds after arriving at the site, the keyword stuffing sucked away all its credibility, and any time I see this URL in search engine results, I’ll skip it. It isn’t a page for humans. It’s a page for search engines. 

Whether you write for a blog or are building a website, make sure you don't fall into the same trap.
 

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