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Attract Search Engines While Engaging Your Readers

Writing website content can be a tough balancing act.  We want to write keyword rich content to attract search engine crawlers, but how do you do that without losing your reader’s interest?

Michelle Wicmandy wrote a great article for Website Magazine with techniques to satisfy both audiences.

Today’s digital writer has two audiences: readers and Web crawlers. Unfortunately, the two have distinct tastes.

The latter, for example, prefers keyword repetition, which works to achieve higher search engine rankings (thus, maintain visibility with an audience). This “over-optimized” style of writing, however, can attract Web crawlers but can also lose a reader’s interest. On the contrary, online readers demand relevant information in easy, bite-sized pieces. Being brief, by using sentence fragments, bullet points and reporting “just the facts” increases reader interest but may sacrifice SEO-driven rankings.

And, despite the different preferences of readers and Web crawlers, both are seemingly interrupting the creative prose of yesterday.

“It’s not a trend I agree with,” said Lynda McDaniel, founder of the Association for Creative Business Writing and co-founder of The Book Catalysts. “That [brevity] style won’t bring anything to life, especially not the readers. Writing is the portal to our thoughts, and if we write in snippets, our thoughts will be just as abbreviated. To keep your content interesting and hold the reader’s attention; write to the reader, write for the reader and write from the heart. Write as if you’re talking with a friend — or at least someone representative of your readership. Engage the reader with stories and compelling information, not just short little blurbs.”

Words trigger emotion and form bonds with the reader. McDaniel thinks an importance should be placed on writing interesting content using clarity, fresh associations and interest angles. To create visuals and actions in the reader’s mind, try incorporating a few of the following techniques:

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