Beyond SEO Writing Techniques: What Do Content Readers Want?

As powerful as SEO techniques are when it comes to writing web content, it won’t get you far if the quality of your articles is lacking. As noted before on John Chow’s blog, writing for the web is different from print publications in terms of structure. Here I’d like to focus on how web content is unique in terms of substance.

As a freelancer, whenever I sit down to write an article for the web, I try to get inside readers’ heads. While every solid blog or website specializes in a particular niche, I’ve noticed that Net readers are all looking for some more general qualities that apply to all web articles across the board. When I write for the web, I try to incorporate as many of the following qualities as possible:

1. Helpful content.

Think about the last time that you had a task to take on or a problem to solve, but you weren’t really sure how to go about it. Before the Internet, people would call friends with specific expertise who might have been able to help, or they would have gone to a library or bookstore to look up a how-to resource. Now, however, it’s so much easier to search the Internet. Tip lists are a great way to structure web content designed to help someone accomplish a specific task. Also, linking to other websites that provide additional helpful information is always good.

2. Up-to-date content.

Ever notice how online newspapers all seem to advertise that they update their news constantly? For example, in the New York Times online edition, right under the banner, the “last update” is marked in red with a time, and each new article indicates how many minutes ago it was posted. Online newspapers do this for a very specific reason–they know that readers want the latest, most up-to-date information available. When writing an article for whichever blog, make sure it’s something fresh. Readers want the latest info out there.

3. Controversial content.

The Internet is particularly suited to controversy, simply because the web leverages the power of the forum to enable readers to discuss through comments. If your content is controversial, then readers will want to talk about it with other readers. If you can get a heated discussion started, then more people will read it in order to put their own opinions out there.

4. Entertaining content.

As bloggers, we may use the Internet primarily as a business tool. But know that there are many more millions of readers out there who connect to the Net after a hard day’s work simply to be entertained. If you can throw in some humor into your article, readers will appreciate it.

5. Error-free content.

The Internet has become infamous as a breeding ground for bad spelling and grammar. While you would think that most readers don’t care if there are a few errors in your content, it subconsciously destroys your credibility. Since so many websites are plagued by poor writing, if you make it a point to check your work before submitting it, your article will stand out above the rest. And in a blogosphere in which millions are dying to be heard, it will be those who can distinguish themselves who garner the most readers. Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation is an easy way to do just that.

Knowing both SEO techniques and Internet writing styles is of the utmost importance in expanding your reader base. At the same time, however, readers also want substance in their content. Above all, remember that the best way to gauge what readers want is to put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7

80 thoughts on “Beyond SEO Writing Techniques: What Do Content Readers Want?”

  1. Harshad says:

    Nice tips. Every blogger or article writer need to have these points in front of them all the time while writing an article.

    1. d3so says:

      Also, unique content. Some bloggers just rewrite the same stuff they learn from others.

      1. Unique content is not necessarily something that is completely revolutionary and a totally new subject that nobody has written about before.

        1. For the news base blog believe me same news will be serve thousands time though in different words and all.

          1. Exoclyps says:

            And I believe that is because there is just so much news out there. As I see it spreading the same news, but with your own words is not that bad. Then people can choose which newsblog suit theirs style and still be able to get all the news.

      2. Harshad says:

        Copying the exact content can be bad. Rehashing can be a better choice.

        1. PPC Ian says:

          Unique content is key. Sometimes it’s as easy as adding your own opinion and letting your own personality come thru in your writing.

          1. That’s right PPC Ian and others. A lot of people don’t seem to understand this. They think that one should write only totally new information.

            Of course if that were to be the case then it would be extremely hard. Most novels have a limited number of plots, most news channels are giving the same news and most blogs in any niche write on the same topics.

            It is the angle, the choice of words and the personality an opinion that makes unique content.

          2. PPC Ian says:

            Well said, my friend! 🙂

          3. Dan Lew says:

            Yeah being unique and also adding a creative touch is where it’s at

          4. PPC Ian says:

            If you’re looking to write great content, it probably helps to have Keyword Winner as well. 🙂

      3. Mathew Day says:

        It’s better to add your own twist on a topic and voice your opinion, search engines don’t like duplicate content.

      4. It’s pretty basic, let’s sum it up. Write stuff people want to read. Period.

  2. Edgar says:

    good article, I used this rules everyday to make money

    1. d3so says:

      I’m curious. How much money do you end up making everyday?

      1. Do you really expect him to answer and if so to answer truthfully?

        1. d3Sso is really curious to know how much other people are earning.

          By the way d3so … what if same question asked to you ?

          1. Harshad says:

            No one shows their blog income reports nowadays. I am sure people will start it once John starts it again.

          2. Dan Lew says:

            I will show you mine if you show me yours 🙂

          3. Harshad says:

            Mine is zero guys… now share yours :d

          4. PPC Ian says:

            There are a few that still do, but you are right not that many! I have enjoyed reading Dino Vedo’s blog, he will report blog income from time to time.

  3. Donny Gamble says:

    I think that is really hard to focus both on writing for the search engines and writing for the user at the same time because I think it dramatically effects the overall tone of the artticle

    1. d3so says:

      It’s not that hard. You just have to know where to place keywords in the article. It might be harder for those whom English is a second language.

      1. Well if you will se John Chow’s post than you will realise that this is for the general public even though they are ranking quite good for the relevant keywords and all.

        1. Exoclyps says:

          Writing for google makes the pages stronger perhaps. But writing for the people and you’ll have more backlinks I believe.

          It is a trade off.

          1. Dan Lew says:

            It is a double edged sword, we must do both

    2. Mathew Day says:

      Writing for the people is more important than writing for the search engines.

  4. dotCOMreport says:

    SEO is important and should never be underestimated; but what is SEO without good, helpful content? Really nice tips Angelita and every content writer should pay close attention to them.


    1. d3so says:

      I’ve experienced that search engine traffic isn’t as good as targeted traffic. But SEO is important because it can make your numbers look good.

      1. Isn’t SEO traffic also targeted? I don’t get where exactly and how you make the distinction.

        1. Yes if you are ranking well for any keyword than getting traffic search engine from that keyword is well targeted.

          Did not understand your point d3so.

        2. Exoclyps says:

          Agreeing here. SEO is, if anything, targeted traffic. As you target people searching for your keywords.

          But perhaps we’re missing the point here?

          1. It seems that some people, and I’m not picking on anyone in particular, do not understand that SEO goes hand in hand with good content.

            They are not opposed to each other as some people believe.

          2. Dan Lew says:

            Exactly this is why I love Keyword Winner plugin as I can not only optimize my titles but also get suggestions for headlines, something catchy 🙂

  5. There are plenty of ways to get a ton of traffic without SEO. True you don’t want to pass up any free traffic SEO gives you, but I think you’ll always get a better response if you write for “humans” rather than search engine spiders.

    1. Harshad says:

      Good point. I don’t think any top blogger thinks about search engines before or while writing a post.

      1. Fernando says:

        Although I agree with you at some point, you definitely have to put at least some attention on Search Engines. That’s what gives you organic and targeted traffic. At least to me.

    2. d3so says:

      That’s why you write for both. SEO is old news. Bloggers should focus on how to leverage social media.

      1. SEO is for humans who use keywords isn’t it? Only an idiot would try to write for the spiders.

        And top bloggers do think about SEO. I don’t know of any that doesn’t.

        1. Certainly they do mix both things perfectly (natural content and seo)

          You can see their SEO in titles and link building.

        2. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that’s true. There are plenty of people who will go keyword hunting and write a post around that keyword and the LSI words around it trying to get traffic for it and for no other purpose.

          Of course top bloggers think about SEO, but they all have the traffic coming in to not worry about it regardless.

          1. Fernando says:

            Yeah, exactly. You would tons more of traffic if you knew how to play with your Post Headers/URLs.

  6. David says:

    Like you and I , all bloggers or website owners are eager to bring traffic to our websites. You need search engine optimization because the earlier or higher a site appears in search results. The more visitors it will receive from SEO
    But good quality useful content tops the list.

    1. d3so says:

      That’s why it’s always a good strategy to write about breaking news first before someone else does.

      1. Good luck with that. If you want to write about breaking news you are up against the major players like CNN.

        You think you can be the first? How many reporters do you employ?

        1. CNN do not cover all kind of niche.

          So pick that niche for which you do not have to compete with the CNN.

          1. Exoclyps says:

            But still, how do you find out about these breaking news?

            Although, even if you do pick a niche that is covered by CNN. You have something CNN don’t. The chance to put your own thoughts into the news, and thus attract an audience that CNN wouldn’t.

          2. Fernando says:

            That’s is what Niche sites are about. Isn’t it?

  7. Search engines don’t buy your products or services — people do!

    Search engines are a way that (some) people find out about you and what you’re offering. Once they’re at your site, they have to LOVE what they find there, otherwise they won’t be back.

    Thanks for a great article!

    1. d3so says:

      A good tip is to make your site inviting and user friendly. If a visitor finds your site annoying or intrusive at first sight, they can simply click the back button.

      1. Well put Kevin. You need SEO to help people find your site. Once they get there you need to have what they were looking for.

        1. Valid Point Kevin

          We have to think about it. Our blog is like a showroom … we should have good collection and good salesman ship as well.

        2. Exoclyps says:

          Yes. It is important to have a good mixture of it. Write for the people, but have the page SEO optimized. Titles, using proper code, all that stuffs.

          But the actual content is for your readers.

          1. Dan Lew says:

            I use Keyword Winner to optimize my titles and works a treat 🙂

          2. Abhik says:

            No doubt!! You are the owner. 😉

    2. Abhik says:

      That’s the key Kevin, and thanks for reminding us again.

    3. Fernando says:

      You are being too closed on your point of view. I know people are the ones who buy your product, but an easy and fast way to reach them are Search Engines. Trust me.

  8. Max Lee says:

    Good article, I think #5 is wrong though, grammar and punctuation isn’t so important as content itself. If I was an American immigrant who wrote great stories with bad grammar, I would still have readers. Btw, I am an actual American immigrant who still has some bad grammar. But yes, it helps to write good grammar but I just don’t think that’s a “requirement”.

    1. d3so says:

      You should always do your best when it comes to grammar because many people might think you don’t know how to write or they may have problems comprehending what you’ve written.

      1. Max, aren’t you just contradicting yourself?

      2. Abhik says:

        A good grammar is must, but it’s not the only one.

        1. Fernando says:

          What do you mean? Not the only one?

    2. Exoclyps says:

      I don’t think that these tips are just musts. But they are more like tips, what would help out and all that.

      And as you say at the end, writing in a good grammar helps. And I think it does. I’ve left a few blogs because the grammar was way to off, didn’t feel it was worth my time “headicing” over when other blogs cover the same thing, with a better grammar.

      1. If you’re that busy looking at grammer, unless it’s just plain obvious, then how good is the content really?

        1. Exoclyps says:

          I suppose that it was quite obvious at that time. But it is really about a mixture I believe. If the grammar is to bad, then even a good content might get missed. But if there is just some grammar mistakes then it won’t mater much if it is good content.

          But never the less. Bad content won’t do no mater how good the grammar is.

  9. William says:

    thank you for your information, is ver good for me.

  10. fas says:

    You can not always ensure error free, coz errors are bound to happen.

    1. Abhik says:

      Yeah!! But you can try to keep it at a minimum level.

    2. Fernando says:

      Reading what you write twice is always the best way to go.
      But of course you could miss somethings sometimes.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Yeah, seo writing is 30% search engine and 70% for the user. If you just write a computer generated/favored article and it gets to the top of Google, it is going to do very horrible as far as conversions go.

    1. Exoclyps says:

      That is so true.

      I recently checked my Google Analytic page and saw 33% new visitors and 66% returning. And that is with a sky high bounce rate. 50% of people just watching first page and so on.

      Keeping that in mind, getting a person that once visited your site to read it and come back, is gold worth.

  12. Dan Lew says:

    Very good points and nice tips

  13. Abhik says:

    Hey Angelita,
    Nice post. There are some very good points.

  14. Mathew Day says:

    The ability to produce high quality content is key to succeeding online and for bringing in massive traffic to your site. I believe my writing is slowly improving the more I learn and practice. Reading posts like this help take my writing to the next level. 🙂

  15. Liked the post and the tips you offered! I will definitely make a note to stay on these topics when writing. Like the tip you made about being entertaining – sometimes it’s not possible, but when it is, take advantage! Everyone needs a good laugh now and then.

  16. Fernando says:

    I think point N4 is crucial here. If it’s not entertaining it becomes to heavy to read. And most of all, technical stuff.

  17. Tino says:

    Writing content for the internet also establishes who you are. I think many times people think they can write about anything and attract visitors. I have seen blogs where the person is talking about one subject then the next day a completely different one. It establishes no real credibility and will lead to less people following your content.

  18. I think writing 1. Helpful contents will be the best way to get visitors and exposer.

  19. If we have the helpful and original content to make publish on our blog will get more exposure with a little effort for the SEO.

  20. ikki says:

    great advices, i will follow them for sure

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