Are SEO-optimized articles any good?

Plenty of new freelance writers are getting sucked into the vortex of online job boards that are brashly attempting to redefine the art of writing well. I’ve seen my share of these ads for web content writers.

Here is a real ad I saw just this week:

Are they looking for an experienced writer or a trained monkey? Just so you know, these jobs pay just a few dollars and require applicants to jump through fiery hoops of pain that benefit the job poster and not so much the winner of the bid. You can browse the hordes of applicant profiles on these job sites and quickly see that serious writers with experience and a background in communications arts, marketing or journalism aren’t here looking for jobs in their profession.

Photo by Sybren A. Stüvel

Simply put, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) writing is about helping people find your web content through search engines like Google, by incorporating keywords and maximizing web “code” throughout your site. If you sell a product or a service to a diverse group of people, it’s important to generate and drive traffic to your web site via SEO.

If your heart’s desire is to have hundreds of visitors to your site every day, there is no shortage of SEO information to be had. One of my favorite sites is Ana Hoffman’s Traffic Generation Café. She has great tips, and she gets how to write to us humans to help us understand how to get the most bang for our SEO buck.

But I push back when I see other writers cram as many keywords into the title and first paragraph as they possibly can. Do they actually read their own stuff? My Twitter feed inundates me every minute with links to articles like, 10 SEO Tips to Gain Thousands of New Visitors, or 20 Best-Kept SEO Secrets to Drive Millions to Your Blog.

My question is, what happens when readers show up? Is your web content remarkable enough to keep them reading? Make them return? Does it solve a problem? Are you providing what your audience wants and needs?

No matter what you offer, I doubt if you really need thousands of random people visiting your site. You only need the customers who will actually value your offering. So write for the people you most want to read your articles.

Write for humans first, search engines second.

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