December 1, 2011
It’s something that you hear all the time – all of the SEO content in the world doesn’t do you any good, unless your readers are really engaged in it. After all, people don’t buy products, sign up for email lists, or share links if they think that something is “just OK”. If you’re not publishing SEO content that really gets readers involved, you’re missing out on countless link opportunities, traffic, and sales.
So, how exactly do you create SEO content that’s going to engage readers?
1. Don’t Overlook the Importance of “You”
Your SEO articles, blog posts, and optimized sales pages are not formal research papers. The best way to get results out of them is to make each reader feel like you’re speaking directly to them. Luckily, you can do that by focusing on one little word – “you”. Writing in the third person (using “he”, “she”, or “they”) is impersonal; writing in the second person (using “you”) brings your SEO content to a personal level.
Take a look at this sentence:
“People have a hard time driving traffic to their websites because they haven’t defined a target audience.”
It’s not a bad sentence. It contains an important fact that is easy to understand, and it’s certainly better than some of the gibberish you see floating around out there. Your readers will look at this sentence and probably agree with it. Unfortunately, though, there’s no personal investment on their behalf. Instead, they’ll probably think, “Sure, ‘people’ probably do have that problem. So, what does that have to do with me?”
Now, change the same sentence ever so slightly, to:
“You have a hard time driving traffic to your website because you haven’t defined a target audience.”
You’re making the same point and using the same fact. The only difference is that you’re not talking about other people. Instead, you’re speaking directly to the reader and telling him exactly what his problem is. By phrasing the sentence this way, your reader is much more likely to think, “You know what? She’s right. That is my problem! Let me keep reading to see if she has any tips to help me fix it.”
Just like that, you’ve encouraged someone to read your SEO content all the way to the end. Assuming the rest of your SEO content is full of important information, readers will get to the end and think of you with more respect. You can’t ask for a reader to be more engaged than that!
2. Get Rid of the “$10 Words”
I don’t know about you, but I hate “$10 words” – you know, the words you learned for the vocabulary section of the SAT’s and haven’t used since. Most of the time, I see big words and the writer instantly strikes me as someone who wants everyone to think he’s smart. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible impression to give to readers – that you’re some kind of stuffy know-it-all. After all, would you do business with a stuffy know-it-all? I sure wouldn’t!
Making matters worse, you may have a reader who doesn’t know what your “$10 word” means – and now he feels stupid.
People don’t buy from businesses that make them feel stupid!
Bottom line – keep the “$10 words” out of your SEO content. You can provide answers, list solutions, and summarize benefits with the same language that you’d use talking to a friend over lunch.
Remember, the goal is to make the reader feel like the two of you are having a conversation. You simply can’t do that with big, fancy words that no one actually uses in everyday conversation!
3. Use Lists Whenever You Can
Internet searchers are a bunch that love to scan and skim. They scan Google results, article titles, and even the body of the SEO content itself – until they see something that catches their eye. Once they think something’s worth their while, they’ll sit down and read the whole thing. So, the easier you make it for readers to scan your SEO content, the greater your chances of them slowing down to engage with what you have to say.
That’s why you see so many numbered lists and bullet points around the web. Successful writers know that they’re crucial to catching people’s attention. After all, scanning a list to see if it’s got some merit is a whole lot easier than trying to trudge through long paragraphs.
That doesn’t mean you should try to force lists into every piece of SEO content that you publish. In some cases, they just don’t work. In situations where a list isn’t appropriate, make sure that your SEO content has short paragraphs. That way, readers won’t feel “intimidated” by giant paragraphs that look far too time-consuming to read.
How short are we talking?
If your paragraphs have more than 5 or 6 sentences in them, they’re too long. Chances are you’re trying to make too many points in your paragraph. Stick to one point per paragraph, so that you don’t end up with SEO content that looks more like War and Peace.
Remember – internet searchers want answers and solutions, and they want them now. If your SEO content makes it easy for them to find what they’re looking for, you greatly increase the odds of them being fully engaged in what you have to say!
Nicole Beckett is a former award-winning journalist who now specializes in SEO content writing. As the owner of Premier Content Source, Nicole knows how to create content that engages readers and generates results!