If you do not recognize the obvious grammatical error in the title, you MUST read this article; I wrote it specifically for you!
If you only have five seconds to spare, just remember the three C’s of optimized copy: be concise, correct and credible.
In 2003, Kathy Kiely published an article in USA Today discussing the impact of bloggers on presidential campaigns. Despite the subject matter, Kathy’s points still apply today, “Many bloggers are not professional journalists. Few have editors. Most make no pretense of objectivity.” I believe many search engine and social media marketers fall into the same category and as a result our industry, clients, their customers and the search engine results suffer.
The Bottom Line
People either do not like or do not have the time to read poorly written content. Therefore, whether you are writing an optimized web page, linkbait, blog entry or press release, it is essential that you write with concise language, correct grammar and credibility. Besides increasing readership, you will make the search engines very happy.
Let me take a moment to state that my mother was an English teacher. Growing up under her watchful eye I rebelled by misusing commas and tenses. Despite being grammatically challenged I managed to become a competent writer, which I attribute to being opinionated and following these simple rules:
- Be concise: answer what, where, and when early in the content. Well-written titles and opening lines that stick to the facts have a stronger response rate from both humans and search engines.
- Be correct: use correct grammar and spelling. If there is only one thing I want you to remember from this article it is that you should read your content out loud, preferably from a printed document. I am a huge environmentalist, but the mistakes spell check does not catch are easily heard and seen when you remove yourself from the computer. As for grammar, try to use familiar words in short, declarative sentences.
- Be credible: get the facts straight. Wikipedia is NOT a reliable source for unbiased information. Neither are most blogs that quickly turn news into a bad game of telephone. If you are writing about a subject, go straight to the source. In the age of backlink nepotism, many search engine marketers are losing sight of how to write as the authority. This is not high school, do your own homework or fall into an ever-growing sea of noise. Or worse yet, get removed from feed subscriptions!
Do these points sound like common sense? They should, they are the basic pillars of journalism. I have left out some of the biggies: humor, creativity, newsworthiness, etc. For a nice summary read Michael Gray’s post, Top 12 Ways To Win Friends & Write Magnetic Headlines, at Search Engine Land.
Fortunately, when it comes to search engine optimization, marketers have free license to bend those rules for the sake of keyword integration. Flora Fair, an accomplished journalist turned optimized copywriter states, “Though journalistic and SEO writing are similar, one key difference is the challenge of integrating keyword phrases for searchability. You sometimes have to bend the strict rules of grammar applied to journalism and make the copy sound as natural as possible. But whether you’re writing for the news or for the Web, the ultimate goal is to tell a compelling story that conveys information. Including optimized keywords adds another factor to the process.”
Marketers can also bend the rules for the sake of creativity or branding, but I will never forget my mother’s caution, “you must understand the rules before you can break them.”