Sprinkling keywords and “aboutness” into SEO copy

Unlike the keyword tag itself, keywords are alive and kicking. Adding a page’s most

important keywords to the title tag, H1, and intro paragraph lets the reader and the search bot know what your page is about.

The key to unlocking keywords lies in this question: what’s the new page about?

Where search engines and humans intersect

Search bots, especially Google, are doing their best to provide a better experience for the humans doing the searching. As an online writer, I’m doing the same thing. So Google’s my colleague, an invaluable member of my team.

Aboutness

The Internet is filled with noise, and you compete with billions of URLs on each page you write. So how do we help a googler find the helpful page we’ve just written?

I worked with Nick Musica, a guy who wrote the book on SEO (or at least “a” book), and he explained that keywords increase the “aboutness” of a page. It’s a lame but effective term. Lame because it’s a fake word, effective because it’s the right way to look at keywords. If a page is about changing a tire, make sure the title tag and intro reflect that. Make sure the subheads reflect the content of the paragraphs they’re preceding. In other words, help people.

I stopped thinking about keywords, with its tricky connotations (something to do with code), and started focusing on the aboutness of the copy. My #1 priority is the human reader — I want the reader to know exactly what to expect from the page without having to scan or scroll. And as search engines catch up to the human searcher’s intentions, human-optimized copy merges more and more with search-engine-optimized copy.

Write naturally

When we start conversations, we unknowingly sprinkle keywords into our dialogue. If it’s Monday, we ask “how was your weekend?” and not “how was it?”

A web page is a one-sided conversation with a real, live person. I don’t want to read a website that seems to put more stock in Google than my own experience, so I write conversationally, mimicking how I might talk in the real world.

This approach helps me dial up (add more keywords to increase the aboutness of a page) or dial back (remove some keywords when the page isn’t reading well) the number of keywords on a page.

Write for a better human experience. Google will reward you.

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