December 23, 2014

4 reasons why you must not write for search engines

This post was provoked by an advice we found on the website of an Indian SEO 'expert'. It stated something like this [obviously, we have not copied the text verbatim]: If your site is not popular on Google etc, one big reason is that you don't know how to write in a way that search engines lap you up. We teach you how to write for search engines, so that your website is always on top pages of search engines for all keywords in your area of work. 

What is 'writing for search engines'?

Writing in which we stuff keywords, anchor text and links so that search engines are fooled to believe that the content is rich in those keywords etc. This is supposed to result in such webpages being on top search pages and in turn great traffic flowing to the website.

Don't let your blog or website have search engine-targeted writing even if offered free. In any case, don't pay to get it done. 

Why, you might ask, are we asking not to attract search engines with your writing. After all, you want more and more people to visit your blog or website, isn't it? Read on to find answers...

1. Writing for humans keeps the language flowing; all other writing is affected.

When you write in a way that stuffs keywords at the cost of flow of language, it irritates the reader. In doing so, or linking unrelated webpages (and overdoing either of the two), you'll need to break the natural flow of writing. (e.g. People get thalesemia often. You can't get thalesemia drug that cures thalesemia. The wornder medicine for thalesemia is not seen in any thalesemia drug store but in our thalesemia clinic.) 

In natural writing, you seldom use the same keyword again and again but you use synonyms. Even then, you do not harp on the same thing too much. Those who teach writing primarily for search engines too tell you to use synonyms so that search engines are not able to see your trick. But if your thoughts are broken by the need to stuff keywords in one form or other, it will seldom be a good writing.

2. Writing for humans is what modern search engines like; they don't like naked keywords

If you have been taking interest in Google's frequent modifications of 'search algorithm', you must have realised that modern search engines are trying to throw up the most relevant results in response to natural queries. Google wants to explain to the searcher the reason for thalasemia when he asks this question 'Why do people get thalesemia?' In one of algorithm updates, Google even explained how it dislikes keywords packed in a para artificially as given in the example in point 1 above.

3. When you apply a successful but bluffing trick today, search engines will likely penalise you for it tomorrow

Black-hat SEO 'experts' and search engines seem to be racing against each other, much like thieves and the police. Such SEO guys constantly invent and apply new hacks, exploit loopholes in search algorithms and come out with some other trick to fool search engines. Once these tricks are caught by search engines, they penalise the tricksters. This keeps on happening. In fact, in doing so, sometimes the search engines end up punishing well-intentioned and ethical SEO practices also. 

The notions of what is ethical and what is not (and what is ideal and what is not) keep changing. If yesterday, somebody analysed that keyword density of 4 per hundred words was ideal, it might look too much today; if they said you must have keywords equally distributed, today they might start saying that keywords should be more towards the conclusion part of the passage.

4. All tricks are for short term; quality content is forever

Tricks, by their very nature, can succeed in the short term. Luckily, in the case of website writing and blogging, there is a much more potent and long-term tool for attracting viewers: good content. Even ethical SEO tricks cannot work unless backed with good content. If you write primarily for the search engine, your writing will not be of top quality and people who come to your website on the strength of SEO will feel cheated and quickly desert your blog. Do you need visitors who come to you once (and occasionally giving you a traffic boost) and leave OR visitors who come but visit a number of your pages, take your advice, possibly buy your stuff and (the most important thing:) tell others about your good website / blog?

So, no SEO? Are we suggesting that we should shun keywords and linking?

No friends. You should make your websites and blogs as search friendly as possible. However, the target of your content should be people (who'd love it for the content and will come back on the basis of content and will tell others and bookmark your page and ...) and you should write for them, not search engines. Once you have written the piece, think of adding value by substituting weak expressions with more relevant and powerful words, putting relevant links and making the hyperlinked text (=anchor text) self-explanatory. Again, don't overdo these, especially linking. That much of SEO is ethical and it is effective enough.