Focus on writing well and search engines will love you

Focus and Write Well for SEO Success

 Photography: Margo Love

Turns out, writing is cool again. Those who would have laughed at touching a keyboard ten years ago, are now are busy typing away, rushing to get their next post out. 

If you have a business, and you don’t have a blog, you’re missing out.  There is no better way to get your name, brand, and product out to the world, and into search engine results – just make sure you blog well.

So, what does writing well have to do with search engines?  Plenty.  If you write well, others will link to your article.  When others link to your article, search engines take notice and point to you too.

But – don’t think for one moment that you need a degree in journalism to have a blog – you don’t.  Some of the best bloggers have no formal training in writing, yet they are successful because they have taken the time to brush up on basics – you can too.

So, how do you write well?

Use plain English. Of the nearly 700 words in Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 505 are of one syllable, and 122 are words of two syllables

Use active verbs unless there is no comfortable way to get around using a passive verb – “The Googlebot saw him” is strong; “he was seen by the Googlebot” is weak

Get rid of small qualifiers. They dilute your style and persuasiveness. You are not sort of tired, or a bit confused, or somewhat annoyed. Be confused! Be tired! Be annoyed!

Keep your paragraphs short. Writing is visual; it catches your eye before it catches your brain

Get comfortable using a dictionary and a thesaurus; it expands your mind, and shows you care about your readers – you didn’t just throw it all together

Use fewer words but make them count 

Get to know the most common errors in English

Edit, Edit, Edit. Once you have written your article, go away, have a coffee, come back, print it up, and read it out loud. When you stumble over a sentence, rewrite it, because if you stumble, others will too

And a final point from Brian Clark about headlines:

I absolutely love clever word play.  Puns, turns of phrases, neologisms, Spoonerisms, etc… I love them all.  I just don’t use them in headlines.

The benefits of writing well are many: more readers, increased links, higher rank on search engines, the power to influence, and revenue.

Pretty decent return for your investment, dontcha think?

For more information on writing well, familiarize yourself with On Writing Well, by William Zinnser and the writers’ bible, The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White.

An invitation

Much like Brian Clark did with his remixing headlines experiment, I thought I’d try an editing experiment.  If you have written a post that you think could have been written better, leave a link in the comments section below.  I’ll edit it for you and write up the reasons for the edits next week.

24 Responses to “Focus on writing well and search engines will love you”

  1. Tricia says:

    Thanks for the great blog, Lid, and for the offer of editing. I can’t pass on that one! Always looking for ways to improve my writing AND to get noticed by those search engines. Here’s one for you :

    Moving with kids in tow
    4 01 2008

    I just read a blog on a Single Parent’s site about when, if ever, is the best time to relocate kids to a new home. The writer correctly stated, in my opinion, that every kid is different as far as readjusting is concerned, but sometimes it can get harder as they move into their teens and have established strong roots of friendship and familiarity.

    Many of us have moved with kids in tow and have encountered all types of problems – new schools, making new friendships, finding new interests, or just being plain sullen and miserable at having left their friends behind and blaming it all on Mom and Dad.

    A couple of thoughts to anyone who is thinking of relocating with their kids :

    For elementary and middle schoolers, try, if at all possible, not to move them just after the summer holidays have started. 2 reasons :

    1. You will be faced with some long weeks of entertaining the kids who have not made any friends yet, as they haven’t been able to attend the local school.

    2. They will start the fall semester along with every other new kid and no one will be making any special effort to make them feel at home. If they start school soon after the beginning of the school year they become the “new kids” and can be made special and probably be buddied up with someone by the teacher.

    So the best option would be to move them into their new school a few weeks before the end of the school year so they have time to make some new friends with whom they can spend more time in the summer.

    Or if that timing doesn’t work for your new job, don’t worry about possibly starting the new term a little late. The benefits of being made “special” and looked after far by the other students outweigh, in my opinion, the disadvantages of arriving a little late into the school year and having to catch up.

    And, the other thought is, as someone who specializes in relocation, I encourage every parent relocating with kids to make sure that they find out where and how they can continue to participate in their sports or pursue their interests. We have totally turned several families around whose kids were adamant they didn’t want to move to Silicon Valley.

    One I remember in particular was a family with two boys, not at all happy about leaving their friends behind in North Carolina. They came over for a visit before making the final decision. The wife, too, was reluctant but we found out that she loved sailing, so a trip to Santa Cruz won her over; the teenage boy was mad about lacrosse, so we found and introduced him to one of the few lacrosse coaches around at that time (this was several years ago) and his younger brother was a crazy skateboarder so a tour of the local skateparks convinced him this was the place to be!

    So get to know someone in your new area, or better still, a relocation expert who can find the answers to your kids’ questions and you can reassure them that life will go on in Silicon Valley!

    Thank you, Lid!!!

  2. Lid says:

    Hey Tricia – what’s the URL for this post? I want to see it on your blog.

  3. Mark says:

    Lid – you are too kind! That’s very funny :)


  4. Lid, I don’t have a post for you to edit (great idea!) but I did want to say that the picture you used just knocks me out! I love it! And I do appreciate the mention… thanks! :)

  5. Lid says:

    @ Mark – You keep saying you’re not a professional writer, but boy, coulda fooled me :)

    @ Tricia – Thanks – I’m on it!

  6. Lid says:

    Michael – I turn to your site often so you have made my day by visiting – thank you. And, you are most welcome for the mention. Hopefully more of that to come!

  7. pearl says:

    hey Lid – very nice post and yes that picture is just awesome! Your blog is looking very nice already!

  8. Lani says:

    I’m really glad I stumbled across this post! I’m even going to leave a link for you to work with (right before I push the subscribe button). It’s from a very new blog project so the feedback will be invaluable to me. Thank you for the “experiment”!

    A Personal Blog is Art

  9. Joanna Young says:

    Hi Lid, nice post and as a writing coach I like hearing more about why writing counts :-)

    One thing I try and hold on to when writing my own stuff is that’s its people who are using the search engines – and pitch my writing at them.

    Best wishes


  10. Lid says:

    @ Lani – Hey, thanks Lani, welcome. And, you’re on! :) Check back next week (although at first glance your site looks great), and we’ll see what we can do!

    @ Joanna – Thanks for visiting and thanks for the comment; I agree – write for the user and search engines will follow (the SEO 2.0 way of thinking). I wrote more about it here

  11. Lid says:

    @ Pearl – Thanks lovely. Yeah, I fell in love with that pic, trying to work out how to make better use of it – I don’t want it to disappear when I write my next post :-p. Thanks for the comments re the blog – still trying out new things, but I’m happier with it.

  12. [...] week, I offered to edit, for readability and SEO purposes, posts that readers felt could be better written.  Today I’ll [...]

  13. [...] Well | by Martyn and Lidija Davis Focus on Writing Well and Search Engines Will Love You Search Engine Friendly Design How to Blog [...]

  14. [...] – not only about your product/service, but also industry trends. The caveat here is you must write in plain English. Your website can be filled with jargon and industry terminology, but your blog is where you need [...]

  15. thanks – very useful. Will list it on my blog.

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