Are You Writing Web Pages for Search Engines,
or Are You Writing Them for People?
Earlier this week, I ran a client’s site through HubSpot’s Marketing Grader. We scored a 76! Not bad, but still have some work to do, obviously. Marketing Grader grants a site a score based on several criteria: mozRank, back links, blogging frequency, social media presence and frequency, etc. What is really cool is that you can check your competitor’s scores to see how you match up with them. My client, Cline Services, is in the very competitive niche of carpet cleaners in Charlotte, NC. So, I did a search of “carpet cleaners charlotte nc” and put the top 10 listings in Marketing Grader. One business stood out so I took a look at their site to see what they were doing.
To be honest, I was shocked. Although they were ranking fairly high in the search results, the copy was so obviously written for search engines as to be almost incomprehensible. For instance, here is some actual copy taken from the site: [competitor’s business name] uses a minimal amount of moisture, so your Charlotte carpets are fully dry and ready to enjoy in just 1 to 2 hours, instead of 1 to 2 days with typical steam cleaners in Charlotte. (Italics are part of the website copy, not added by me.)
Your Charlotte carpets? Typical steam cleaners in Charlotte? Does anyone talk like that? Of course not. Whoever was optimizing the site was clearly targeting keywords and not readers. “So what?”, you may ask. The site is ranking well in Google, isn’t it? Yes, but is it converting well? Would you put your trust in a site that has copy like that? Give customers a little credit for having some common sense.
Ranking vs. Results
Unfortunately, what is probably happening is that the cleaning business in question is wondering where all the customers are after paying for SEO. All the SEO company has to do is show the business owners the web analytics of how many visitors they are getting and which optimized keywords are bringing in this traffic. That’s how they can justify this horrible excuse for copywriting. And, technically speaking, they’re right! The site is optimized for certain keywords and phrases. The SEO firm has optimized the site for local search, as they should. But there is a key ingredient missing: the human voice. By writing in a way that communicates trust and understanding of the customer’s problems, your web copy will convert much better.
Optimization That Makes Sense to a Reader
Can you write in a trustworthy manner and still optimize for the search engines? Of course you can! Remember, Google, Bing and the other search engines out there do not understand punctuation. In other words, sentences phrased like, “…you live in Charlotte. Carpets will be…” are seen the same to a search engine as that ridiculous sentence, “…so your Charlotte carpets are fully dry…” The keyword phrase “Charlotte carpets” is in both examples and will be seen the same by search results.
Break up your keyword phrases so they make sense to someone who is reading them. Don’t cram them in your copy just to rank well. Add them to title tags, to h1 and h2 headers, and sprinkle them in body copy in a way that makes sense to a reader. Note the word sprinkle, not stuff! Stuffing keywords will get you banned by Google, and quite frankly, good riddance!
You Can Please the Search Engines and Your Audience, too!
Your business needs to have its site optimized for relevant keywords and phrases. Depending on the industry, your site should be optimized for local search (by adding a location, as in Charlotte, NC, in the examples above). But your business should be striving to convert prospects into customers. To do that, you need to establish trust. You won’t do that by writing to search engines instead of people.
Do you have any questions regarding the information in this article? Leave your comments and I’ll be sure to answer them for you. Also, don’t forget to share by using the share button below!