Search engines are getting smarter.

So can you.

Once upon a time, people learned that search engines work by scouring web pages for keywords.

It’s pretty obvious, really. You type a word in the search bar, and the search engine of choice combs the web for content that features that keyword. Pretty simple.

And, humans being humans, they decided to take advantage of that fact. Sometimes, they did good things—using the right keywords that matched their content so people could find what they were looking for.

But other times, they shoved tons of popular search terms into a piece… whether or not they made much sense or the writing was any good. As long as it got clicks, right?

Clicks, sure. Conversions? Not so much.

Computer displaying search engine

Those marketers missed a simple truth—sales and subscribers come from humans, not search engines. If humans click the back arrow without taking action because they found your web page too confusing, too bulky, or just plain weird, you’ve missed your chance.

What’s more, search engines caught onto this. They’re businesses too. They want people to use their products. So they changed their algorithms.

These days, writing good web content is more than finding good keywords and shoving ‘em in as much as you can. And thank goodness!

Sometimes you can still see web pages do that. Isn’t it annoying? And now it’s ineffective.

That gives you the advantage.

By having excellent content, you can do well in search rankings and keep your readers around.

Maybe that means subscribing to your blog. Perhaps it means buying your product, signing a petition, joining your email list, or even just bookmarking your site for future use.

So what’s the secret to making your content optimized for search engines and your readers?

Write for your audience.

Remember what I said about the search engines catching on? They learned that it isn’t about the right keywords, or even the right percentage of keywords.

They look for more, such as the right context keywords. If your web page says it’s about your Grandma’s Super Secret Doughnut Recipe but you never write about flour, yeast, or deep frying… the search engine is going to wonder if you’re really talking about doughnuts.

Or are you keeping your grandma’s secret like a good grandchild?

If you’re truly writing for your audience and not trying to hoodwink search engines, you will likely use those terms naturally. This will keep your readers engaged and ensure that you’re optimized for search engines.

There are some other tips, too—not the type of tip that’s secretly a trick meant to fool a search engine, though. Here are four tips to help the right people find your content and stick around.

1. Write what your audience wants to read

If you’re writing the answer to a question… write the answer to the question. Don’t dodge around it or rephrase it ten million times in hopes that a search engine will feature you on page 1. Just answer the question. Doesn’t matter if it takes 50 words, 500, or 5000. Just answer it in the clearest, easiest way possible.

2. Include a clear call to action

Search engines may have gotten smarter. People, not so much.

That is to say, they can’t read your mind. They don’t know what you want them to do. And if you’re giving them mixed signals? Forget it.

But if you point them in the right direction, there’s a good chance that the people in your target audience (who are already impressed by your natural writing and clear answers) will do what you were hoping for.

Not 100% of the time by any means. Good copy editing will give you a boost, but it’s not magic. But you don’t need a 100% conversion rate. For that matter, you likely couldn’t handle a 100% conversion rate. You just need enough to make a difference so your ideal customers know exactly what to do.

3. Make your web content visually appealing

Maybe it’s the Gen Z in me, but if I open a web page and see a GIANT wall of text, I’m out. Sometimes I’ll stick around if I really want to learn about the answers… but honestly, folks. We’ve got the enter key for a reason.

Bullet lists? Numbers? Pictures? Bring it on!

Not too much, of course. Many online writers make their web pages look like modern poetry, a line break nearly every sentence. After a certain point, it gets a little excessive… and if you’re like me, it screams SALES PITCH loud and clear. Nothing wrong with a sales pitch, but there’s a certain feel to them that can get under a person’s skin.

Or maybe I’m just picky.

But just like everything else, there’s a balance.

4. Get outside help

Editing your own work is hard.

You know exactly what you mean, but your audience doesn’t.

There’s no reason to do it alone. Read it out to a friend. Does it sound natural? Great! No? Back to work.

Or, hire an editor. There are people (like me!) who help with this visual appeal, call-to-action, and good mix of relevant keywords.

I would love to help you optimize your web content. I find it to be a fun challenge to help website owners include good search keywords without turning off their readers.

I’ll be launching this service within a few weeks! Stay tuned!

If you want more info now, feel free to reach out to me at rmschellerbooks@gmail.com