Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a big concern for many writers and website developers. The concept of SEO runs counter to pretty much everything a good writer learns. SEO suggests that a webpage can rank higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs, based on how well it conforms to certain search engine friendly concepts rather than based on how good the content of the page is. Even worse, many of the main SEO rules are the opposite of what makes good writing in the non-search engine world.
It’s Not What You Know, It’s What They Know
There are a lot of SEO resources out there that will teach you the tricks of the trade for SEO. SEO tactics like getting the right title tags, using header tags properly, and most importantly of all, building backlinks can help your webpages and your online writing rank higher on Google and everywhere else. However, there is one factor of search engine rankings that is often overlooked. It is overlooked, because it actually has nothing to do with SEO, targeting keywords, or ranking highly for a desired phrase.
For a good writer, the most important factor in determining whether or not you can make money writing online is not how well you can rank for the keywords you want to rank highly for, it’s how well you can rank for the keywords THEY ARE LOOKING FOR.
A good freelance writer can write an informative and useful article about almost anything given enough research. Therein lies the rub. The Google search that most people are making is the research that they are doing. Unless your article title and its associated title tags match what they are looking for, another article that does match will rank higher for the search they are performing, regardless of its quality. That means you not only need to write quality content, but that you must do it in such a way as to match what someone less informed might be searching for.
For example, after doing some research, you might know that someone upgrading the memory in a netbook would need 200-pin DDR2 RAM. However, if your article jumps right into referencing RAM, and DDR2, and 200-pins and so on, it won’t ever be seen by someone looking for information about how to upgrade netbook memory, because they will type into Google, “netbook memory upgrade” or maybe even, “put more memory in netbook.” Notice how the words RAM, DDR2 and pins are all missing. Eventually, they might know some of those words, but that will be a smaller search segment.
When writing about topics that you don’t know or that you need to do significant research about, write your title and introductory paragraphs before doing the research. That way, you’ll be coming from the same place as your reader and be much more likely to hit them on their searches. Be sure to include lots of synonyms or other ways of saying the same thing to catch all the possibilities. From our example above, the intro paragraph should incorporate the words netbook, laptop, computer, memory, RAM, upgrade, and so on. Otherwise, you are just leaving money on the table for someone else.