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December 1, 2011

3 Ways to Get Readers More Engaged in Your SEO Content – A SPN Exclusive Article

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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.

Guess what?

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!

16 Responses to “3 Ways to Get Readers More Engaged in Your SEO Content – A SPN Exclusive Article

    Great article. I need to make some changes in my newsletters to make them more personal. Thanks for your tips.

    avatar Ron Parrs says:

    Good article with some good basic reminders!

    Over the years I’ve asked many professional people who are also good communicators (written or spoken) to regularly critique my work. One of the best things I learned was, aside from keeping paragraphs shorter, was to also BOLD the first couple of words of that paragraph. That makes is easier to skim and then to read.

    Thanks, Vivian! :)

    You can never go wrong by getting your readers more involved, and it’s not that tough to do. Hope those newsletters turn out great!

    Thanks, Ron! :)

    You’re right – using bold letters is a great idea. I use them on my blog all the time. Even if I’m not writing something in list format, I’ll usually bold a few sentences throughout that I really want to emphasize. Anything you can do to attract all of the “skimmers” out there is a good thing!

    Thank you. This is a very valuable approach to me and I’ll turn it to my practice.

    avatar Jes says:

    Excellent article Nicole. You are absolutely right about a lot of $10 words being used which makes it hard to understand without having a dictionary handy. Of course this does not mean that we should not try to learn more every day.

    avatar Equity Stock says:

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading you post.

    You’re right, Jes… No one wants to surf the ‘net with a dictionary next to them!

    Even if you have a great vocabulary, why say “vociferous” when you can just say “loud”? Or why feel the need to say “impecunious” instead of “broke”? If you don’t use it in everyday conversation, don’t use it in your SEO content! 😉

    Ii always try and convince my clients that writing for their audience is the way to go. So this advice is very apt.

    Sadly, far too many website designers and web copywriters are fixated with sounding ‘professional’ which often switches off website visitors.

    Keep up the great work.

    Cheers,
    Karl

    Former Marine, you’re so right! Those words don’t always make you look smart. And, when you’re writing for the web, they can really turn off your target audience.

    Karl, that’s always a solid approach, no matter who your target audience is. It sounds so simple, but, you’re right, so many people overlook it!

    Thanks for chiming in! :)

    In journalism they always say write in third person, use big words, sound professional, blah blah blah. What you are saying rings true, thank you for the great article. The internet is already impersonal enough, we should all write to help our readers.

    avatar Surety Bonds says:

    It’s a delicate balance between sounding professional and personal at the same time. If you get it just right, the reader can experience the best of both worlds.

    avatar SEO Bedford says:

    I’d add a fourth way if I may: Always give your own voice your articles, make them sound unique to your audience, that will engage them too.

    Bedford, you’re so right (and I think that’s the point Surety was trying to make too!) Readers aren’t stupid; they can tell when you’re REALLY talking to them and when you’re just trying to BS your way through something. By adding your “voice” to it, you’ll come off sounding a whole lot more legitimate and credible.

    And, as an added benefit, letting people get a taste of your “voice” makes you seem like a person to your readers – instead of just “another corporate entity” that’s trying to sell them something.

    Nicole, I absolutely love the simplicity of adding the word “you” and how it really creates ownership in terms of SEO – both in terms of problems and solutions. It is a shift that can really make a difference to any website owner who is seeking positive change.

    I also agree with your above comment about readers as well – I would add that it also is important to be sure that you are engaging in a dialogue, versus “talking at” a reader. The difference in engagement is huge, and it is a simple shift in thinking that can pay huge dividends.

    Thanks for the comment, Birthday! You’re right… “you” is such an easy thing to add, and it brings so much more to your content!

    You’re right… no one wants to feel “talked at”. It makes them feel dumb (or, at least, like *you* think they’re dumb). If your readers don’t think you respect them, they’re never going to stick around.

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