We all know the power of Google. Ranking on the first page of results following a Google search can be the difference between attracting new business or withering in the internet abyss.
So it’s not surprising that one of the questions I’m most commonly asked when creating content for a client is: should we be writing for Google or for our readers, or is it possible to please both?
Your reader, Google or both?
When answering this question, it helps to start with the purpose of the article and how you plan to distribute it.
If the purpose is to reengage existing clients and it will be distributed via a newsletter, the answer is to write it for your readers.
If the purpose is to attract new clients and it will be distributed via social media, the answer is also to write it for your readers.
Almost 100% of the time, your reader should be the primary audience for your content. After all, it’s a person that makes the decision to engage with – and buy from – your business, not a search engine.
How to keep Google happy while putting your reader first
Having said that, Google can be make or break when directing potential clients to your business, rather than to a competitors.
But the good news is that by ticking a few simple boxes, it’s possible to placate Google while also keeping your reader front and centre.
To rank highly with Google you need to employ some search engine optimisation (otherwise known as SEO) techniques in your content. SEO is the process of optimising your content for a certain keyword, or key phrase, so that when that word or words are typed into a Google search, Google selects your content to show the searcher.
To help, you can use my free SEO checklist, which highlights a few of the boxes you’ll need to tick to make your content appealing to Google.
When should content be written for Google first?
As always, there is an exception to the rule of writing primarily for your reader first.
It can be a good idea to write for Google first when creating what is known in the content world as foundation content. This is the sort of boring-but-important content that proves your business is credible at what it does.
For example, if you’re in the business of insurance, a foundation content article might be “How insurance works”. Sure, it’s not the most exciting topic, but it establishes the credibility of your business in doing what it does.
When you have the best answer to a common question, Google ranks your website more highly, so in this case, it’s worth writing for Google-first, which is essentially writing for a robot.
The good news is, this sort of content is timeless (unless how insurance works suddenly changes, which it hasn’t since the 1600s), so if you do it well, you’ll only have to do it once and it will continue delivering for you over and over again.
A few key ways writing for Google is different to writing for your reader
Aside from incorporating all of the tips from my SEO checklist when writing for Google, there are also a few key ways that writing primarily for Google differs from writing for your reader:
Google likes long articles, think 2000 words plus. Most readers do not.
Google doesn’t have a sense of humour so you can forget about puns or clever headlines and subheadings. Instead these need to be peppered with SEO-friendly keywords.
Google likes lots of hyperlinks to other, credible websites. For readers this can be distracting, and take them off your website and onto other pages.
Since the advent of the internet, it’s fair to say that content writing has become equal parts art and science. As a consequence, it’s probably more important than ever to engage the help of someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to your content.
As always, I’m happy to help. You can contact me for a free, no-obligation, 30 minute discussion of your content requirements.