Business writers know that over the past two years, Google has made changes to her search algorithms that are bad news to many SEO pros. But it’s good news for writers. Those changes penalized sites for using black hat and grey hat tricks that gamed the system, and rewarded sites that have clever, useful and engaging content. Put another way, Google gives preferential treatment to websites that contain well-written words. There’s more to it than that, of course, but the bottom line is the Internet is now a writer’s best playground ever. Here are five ways you can use that to your advantage for yourself and your clients. 1. Write Really, Really Well Yeah, this one’s kind of a “well, duh” statement, but it’s been missing from SEO for a few years now. Any business writing — whether it’s you for a client or you for your own writing business — now depends on making your words as tight, as effective, as interesting as possible. Good words foster engagement, interest and repeat visits. Bad writing is bad business. 2. Play the Keyword Game Keywords are the grammar of business writing for the web. If you put them in your writing, Google notices what you’re doing and lets others know what you’re writing about. If you don’t, Google has no idea what your brilliant words are supposed to do. SEO expert and web development advisor John Ellis recommends writing your piece first, then rewriting with keywords in mind. I find I can get them in there on my first pass. Either way, it’s kind of a fun word game getting your keywords in place without turning your prose into tortured sentences. I’m going for a two-word keyword phrase on this one. Can you tell what it is? 3. Engage, Engage, Engage Your words aren’t going to speak for themselves. The business of writing in the 21st century demands that you publicize your own words. For everything you write, I recommend the following steps.
- Identify the URL for the piece, or for the owner if it’s in print.
- Write a 200-word blurb about it and post it on your Google+ account, with a link to the URL and a question that encourages comment.
- Mention it on your Facebook or Twitter feeds, again with a question or other action that encourages engagement. Do not ask for likes or shares. Instead ask a meaningful question for people to answer.
- Engage vigorously with whatever others have to say about your content. Foster further conversation. Start an argument. Anything to keep the comments coming.
- For about one-quarter to one-half of your work, repeat steps 2 through 4 in about a month. For about ten percent of your work, keep repeating steps 2 through 4 once every four to six months.
If you do these three things, Google will eventually notice you. That’s good for your business, good for your writing, and good for your clients. It’s a win-win-win. What could be better than that. SEO is a controversial topic, even among the top-level experts. What do you think about this plan? Do you do something similar? If not, what do you do differently?