Thursday, March 15, 2012

Writing Long-Tail SEO: Is It Still Worthwhile?

In this world of internet saturation, how do we write in such a way as to attract readers?  Can we use Search Engine Optimization to help attract readers to our websites?  And should we?  Or do we risk stifling the content of our writing by packing it with words simply for the sake of Google?

This article is actually in response to a great question about online writing.  One of my fans from our Facebook Page wanted to know if "SEO packing" is a good approach to writing onlnie articles. In terms of SEO and page rank, I definitely believe that SEO should be part of your considerations in writing your articles - not that you'd "spin" articles, but that you carefully choose the focus of your article so that Google will naturally line up your article with the users who are typing in those words in their search engine. (As good as Google might be, I often have trouble finding the articles I'm looking for - especially if I need a specific answer to a very specific question, and Google gives me three or four pages of useless links.) So no, I don't consider SEO to be "cheap" writing. As long as you're writing articles which engage readers and provide new information, then you're providing an important service.
How do I write content to attract an online audience?  Here are some important considerations for Approaching Readers and Search Engines.
That said, focusing on SEO might not help you much as a business owner. Unfortunately, the internet is now so vast that SEO keywords are not as useful for the small business owner as they used to be. If you type in "online writing workshops," for example, 12Writing will be lost in the maze of pages that come up. What you'll see first are the major websites which offer professional writing workshops - the types of sites which have an established online presence, the types of sites which other sites link to as a way to refer their readers to reputable businesses. And there's nothing wrong with this - it just makes it harder for newcomers to do well using SEO alone.
Should I hire someone to help with my website's SEO?  Here are Google's Thoughts on Search Engine Optimization.  Personally, I don't recommend hiring someone unless your website is already earning money because you've established ad revenues and online purchases.  SEO should be a consideration as you create your site, but content and the services you offer should come first.
This is the major reason why I've shifted my own emphasis toward social networking. With Facebook ads, I've found that I can specifically approach online users who are already interested in creative writing. However, there is definitely still an important role for SEO as you write your stand-alone articles. I recommend taking a look at "long-tail SEO," an approach to article writing which allows your articles to answer specific questions for specific online users. For example, if you type "best king arthur book" into your Google search, you might come up with an article in 12Writing which I wrote about The Once and Future King. In that article, I was specifically testing the idea of long-tail SEO, and I worked hard to produce a helpful article packed with keywords. It was, at one time, the most read article on my website, though I'm not sure how well it does now (I wrote it back in 2008 or so).
Want to know more about writing long-tail SEO?  I recommend this article from About.com on Long-Tail Keyword Phrases and Online Marketing.
Please let me know if this helps - simply leave a comment below or, better still, on our 12Writing Fan Page. --Ryan

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