Writing for Humans

It’s very easy, in a world of SEO and ad copy, to let the strategy subsume humanity. In other words, you’re writing into these very specific formats, having to get the word or character count just right, and these strict guidelines can hamstring creativity. Let’s talk about how writing for humans really makes all of the difference.

The Point of Marketing Copy

It’s tempting to think that no one will ever read what you write online. And, to be fair, marketing copy really is about conversion. It isn’t about getting a reader to linger on what you write: it’s about getting them to move along, further down that sales funnel and further along the process toward an ultimate purchase.

  • The point of an ad is to get clicked.
  • The point of an article is to drive traffic and then convert them through a CTA.

Everyone wants maximum reach and that is best achieved when you do things the right way. 

You do the SEO research, write the SEO copy and expect the ranking result. But if the last five years have shown us anything, it’s that this “strategy” has the ability to rob copy of its human appeal. In other words, you can land on a webpage and see almost immediately that it was written for SEO, not for people. 

It’s a dead giveaway that a website is written by people who only have rank in mind if:

  • There is a ridiculous repetition of words and phrases
  • Words and phrases are crammed into headers and sentences in a way that doesn’t make sense
  • The page doesn’t really make a point or say anything
  • There are literally just lists of questions or phrases

As a human on this page, you kind of go, “what am I looking at here?” It’s obvious that the page isn’t meant to be read. 

The Fallout of Bad SEO Copy

The ultimate question is whether the traffic you get from copy like that actually hurts or helps. 

I would argue that, at the end of the day, writing for robots will hurt your brand.

There is data to back this up. 

  1. High percentages of Millennials, Gen Yers and Gen Zers buy from brands based on how messaging makes them feel, or how it illustrates what a brand stands for or believes in. 
  2. 64% of online buyers want brands to make a connection with them.
  3. Purpose-based buying is through the roof. 79% of U.S. buyers want to buy from companies whose values reflect their own. People want that percentage for charity or the evidence that you have a plan. 
  4. Visits to “about us” pages have increased significantly. People want to know who you are and what you stand for, even before they buy your potholders or CBD gummies. This matters.

What’s more, SEO trends and philosophies and strategies change. Your website is the only digital asset you have that will appreciate over time. Make sure you’re actually putting meaningful roots down. 

In five years, is your website going to be full of millions of words of basically unreadable “SEO” copy… or will it be full of meaningful, thoughtful articles that address real issues in your industries or solve real problems?

How to Write SEO Copy For Humans

Now, while I wholeheartedly believe that brands make more money and grow faster when they write for humans, this doesn’t mean it’s an “either or” situation. A highly skilled SEO copywriter can do both. They can write in a way that appeals to Google bots AND is immensely readable and valuable to future customers. 

This is something Hire a Writer specializes in and here are some tips to do it.

  1. Write about concepts, not keywords.

Yes, you need to do your research and pick your SEO keywords. Then, you need to step back and consider what you actually want to write about. Words can mean many things. That’s the beauty of language. 

Example: you have a data storage solution and want to write a blog about “data storage.” This is a great KW (monthly volume = 2,500). 

Now you actually have to pick a concept to write about. “Data storage” is not a concept that is going to set you apart. Your competition on Google is Wikipedia, Amazon, Redhat. This tells you that it’s going to be amazingly difficult to rank well for that keyword. This doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying but it means you need an angle.

“What is data storage” is probably not your angle. Pick something specific. Maybe something about data storage trends, a specific way your company addresses data storage, a newsjacking article about data storage, comparing the top 10 data storage solutions, highlighting the 3 latest data storage tech offerings, an in-depth article comparing methods of data storage. You get the idea. It needs to be enormously relevant to your brand and detailed enough that people will go looking for it. Answer a question. Provide a solution. 

That step is the one that AI can’t do for you. It’s one that requires real human thought and has the goal of real human contact. Imagine people actually reading it (or yourself) and then craft copy that legitimately contributes important ideas.

  1. Stop repeating yourself.

Repetition is the most obvious (and annoying) sign that someone has written SEO copy without knowing what they’re doing. You don’t have to keyword stuff to get your point across. The Google bots are perfectly capable of finding and indexing your keywords without them being used 15-20 times.

Here’s the issue that I know we all face: keyword variations are important. So, if you have an online interior design company and want to write something ranking for “interior design consultation,” you’re going to know that you have a ton of related keywords to try for as well. Often, those related keywords and long-tail keyword variations are what you actually end up ranking for. So, of course, they’re important. But you can’t go insane.

Don’t kid-in-a-candy-store it. Be realistic. It’s better to write a 1,000 word blog with just 15 SEO keywords than it is to write one with 35 keywords. Writing more articles with fewer keywords will enhance your actual content, because it will be more readable. And, bonus, you’ll end up getting more words on your site with this production level.

One way to mitigate the risk of stuffing is to serialize your content. In other words, create a blog series that uses a wide range of related keywords over the course of several posts.

  1. Don’t be afraid of throwaways.

I literally do this all of the time with my blog. The Hire a Writer blog is seriously not an illustration of best practice for SEO, because my business is like 95% from referrals. Organic traffic isn’t as much a concern, which I know is anathema but there you have it.

The point is this: even if organic traffic is extremely important, sometimes you need to just write interesting content that isn’t perfectly optimized. There may be concepts that your business addresses in a very unique way, that aren’t very popular on the rest of the internet. You still need to write about them. Anything that makes your brand distinct or sets you apart is important to express.

Marketing to Humans

At the end of the day, yes, you want organic traffic and more eyes on your site. It’s the only way to have predictable and ever-improving sales. But you can’t ever forget that, on the other end of a credit card number, is a real human. That person has a history, habits and requires consistent connections. Great SEO copy is about more than structure and strategy. It’s about using the right words to “mark the door,” as it were, providing you with more opportunities to get your message in front of people. And if that message is nonsense, written for robots, you’ve lost the people who will actually buy from you. So, be human. Unless you’re a robot. Then, by all means, be that. (Hey, robot!)