So, there’s SEO writing and there’s writing that just happens to be SEO. Both are important, but these days I find myself leaning more towards the second. What’s the difference, you ask? Allow me to explain.
SEO writing appeals to my rigid, formulaic sensibilities. The part of my brain that won’t allow me to go to bed until I’ve not only checked all the locks in the house, but touched them as well. There are three basic tenants to SEO writing: you must include your keywords/phrases in three-four strategic places, saturating approximately 5-15% of the body of your text, and not use overtly common words (like “SEO Writing”). You need to include your key words in your meta tags, your descriptions, your tweets, your texts, your posts… etc. Rinse and repeat. Simple enough.
What I love most of all, however, is happenstance writing. Writing that just happens to have SEO within its lovely lines is a thing of beauty. I liken it to me baking: we have a love/hate relationship. If my cake happens to come out of the oven ‘just right’, I am filled with a sense of fist-pumping satisfaction. It looks and tastes great. But, if the cake doesn’t rise – or tastes just awful – I tend to shrug my shoulders, toss it and try again. I’ll evaluate my ingredients and fill with self-doubt. Did I add too much sugar? Not enough baking powder? I will keep at it until I’m (mostly) satisfied with it. Or until I can slather on enough icing to at least drown out the mistakes… but I digress.
You see, I love to read. I love to read more than I love to write. Which says a lot, really. I read/write all day long – it’s how I make a living. It puts food (and cake) on the table for my children and keeps them housed and clothed. I am very fortunate to be able to wield words and successfully turn a profit from them.
Sometimes, I will admit, I don’t love what I write. I’ve sort of ingested the SEO formula and it tends to subconsciously bleed out of my fingertips and into my text. I’ll evaluate the ingredients in my text to make sure I have the correct SEO ratio, etc. That’s okay, for the most part. But it has tainted my ability to read others’ work without honing in on their SEO writing formula/techniques. Critiquing them, admiring them, getting lost in the backbones of the writing rather than the article itself.
I admire a writer that has successfully written an article that has kept me captivated without letting their SEO slip show. I love feeling like I can just relax and let the words slip past my tongue like a lovely cup of coffee – revitalizing me. I keep striving for that proverbial sweet spot in my writing. Some days it eludes me, while other days I can simply let the words flow forth and everything I write is golden.
One of these days, I hope all of my most successful work will feel more like happenstance writing with SEO inside, rather than SEO writing that will be flat and tasteless. Until then, dear readers, you’ve all been duly warned: I’m armed with icing and I know how to use it!