Writing For Humans Isn’t Enough In The Age Of Algorithms - How To Optimize Your Content With Machines In Mind

- 6 min read -

There is a growing trend in the world of content marketing promoting the creation of user-friendly content that focuses entirely on serving the target audience while putting aside your business interests, such as making as many sales as possible. This transition from making a quick buck to building long-lasting relationships with audiences isn’t going anywhere, but there is one thing that many content creators have overlooked.That is because there will always be one special reader seeing every piece of content you share on the internet. But there are two problems - first, they aren’t interested in your offer and second, it isn’t even a human being. Rather, it is an algorithm overlooking the whole world wide web to rank the content appearing on the internet and determine what will be the most useful for people looking for a specific kind of information.

The search engine algorithm

Today, the most commonly used algorithm is Google’s search engine algorithm with over 5.6 billion queries every day (or 63,000 queries every second), making it one of the most important pieces of software in our daily lives - and that is for both sides of the searches, whether you are sharing content or consuming it.Since 1997 when it was first launched, the Google search engine algorithm has collected unspeakable amounts of data which they used to bring even better results to users based on their behavior. What is more, the company is constantly improving the system to make sure you are getting more relevant searches every time you look for a specific piece of information online.The search engine algorithm is also connected with other platforms and services, such as YouTube, Google Shopping, Google My Business, and other products owned by the company, making it an extremely versatile tool for looking up anything you need on the internet.

What is search engine optimization (SEO)

Writing content as you would for a newspaper or any other offline medium won’t work equally well online because of the criteria used by the algorithm. Search engines don’t favor the best-looking content or the most user-friendly websites but rather the ones that check their internal boxes, which you have to know about when you want to share content on the web.

Unfortunately, the way search engines work exactly isn’t public knowledge. And it makes sense because if you could just look up the exact way results are ranked on Google, many people would do it to harm the interests of end-users and promote content with the aim to deceive or maybe even defraud, effectively harming Google’s image in the process.

But that doesn’t mean Google won’t share anything with us because knowing how to make your content friendly for search engines will benefit everybody when your optimization efforts don’t decrease the experience of interacting with your content. There are 2 main factors Google’s search engine algorithm takes into consideration:

1. Technical factors This is something website owners rarely do themselves, and they often decide to outsource it to somebody with more technical experience. Those factors include the speed at which the website loads, top-level domain (whatever comes after the last dot in the address bar), server location, etc.Many website builders, such as WordPress, will take care of the technical factors for you, leaving you only with the content-related aspects of your website.

2. Content Optimizing content is what we usually think of when talking about SEO. The most popular method here is including relevant keywords in your content. Those keywords can be found with free or paid tools, though the latter tends to be very costly and is used mostly by companies who deal with search engine optimization professionally rather than individuals who want to have their blog post appear on the first page of search results.

Apart from the keywords, there are also related terms, which aren’t that obvious. Those are words that aren’t necessarily related to the topic of your content, but they appear throughout similar pieces of content, and so the algorithm makes an assumption that they are relevant to the topic. For example, the word “subscription” can be a related term when you are writing about email marketing services because most of them are subscription-based products, even though this word didn’t appear in your keyword research.

How to optimize your content for search engines

Let’s put the technical aspects aside and focus on content-related search engine optimization of any piece of content you want to share because the process looks relatively similar, even for videos or anything else that isn’t text-based.

Step 1: Keyword researchThere are many tools, both free and paid, that will help you find the relevant keywords for your content and rank them based on the number of searches over a given period of time and in a given location (or language if there are multiple languages spoken in your location and you want to focus on one of them.

In this guide, we will use a free tool called Google Keyword Planner to show you the exact process behind keyword research.

First, start with any keyword related to your content. Usually, it will be the most obvious one. We will start with “meal delivery.” You can also search for multiple terms at once if you have more ideas, but for now, we will only use one phrase.

Step 2: Analyze You can now browse a list of keywords related to your search and filter them based on specific criteria, such as search volume. You will also see some suggestions at the top to broaden your search and help you come up with more relevant suggestions.

Step 3: Create a list You can now select the keywords that best match your content by checking the box on the right. By default, you will add your keywords to a paid search engine campaign, but in our case, we won’t be paying for anything. Instead, we will just add those keywords so we can refer to them later.

Step 4: Optimize Whether you already have a piece of content written in “human” language and now want to sprinkle it with some keywords, or you prefer to start fresh, knowing what terms to use upfront is entirely up to you.

When optimizing your content, make sure to include the keywords you most care about (for example, the ones with the highest search volume) in the most prominent parts of your content, such as the title and headlines. Search engine algorithms favor those elements more, increasing the value of keywords.

There are two things you should remember when optimizing your content. First, avoid using keywords that aren’t directly related to the topic simply because they have high search volumes. Algorithms don’t like cheating, and if they catch you red-handed, they will downgrade your website instead of boosting it in the search results.

Secondly, avoid excessive use of keywords that will make your text sound unnatural. Of course, when writing an article on a given topic, you might find yourself using main keywords a lot, which is OK as long as you are not forcing it just to increase the frequency of your keywords.

Types of keywords - long-tail vs. short-tail

Lastly, let’s focus on the type of keywords you will work with. Short phrases or single words (also known as short-tail keywords) are the most popular type of keywords because they closely resemble what users are looking for on the web. That is why the volumes are extremely high, but, at the same time, so is competition, which might make it difficult for a newcomer to appear on the first page of the searches.

Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, are more specific phrases that fewer people search for, but those people are usually much more willing to make a decision based on their findings because the things they are looking for are already specific enough. Most of the time, big companies won’t bother with those keywords because search volumes are too low for them, creating a neat opportunity for businesses like yours.

How long for SEO to work

Here is the tricky part with SEO optimization - you will have to wait quite some time before you see any difference in how your website is shown in the search results. Because there are so many websites on the web, it would be impossible to check every single one of them in real-time and register changes as they are being made.
Instead, search engines use crawlers that visit websites one by one and register what they see.

But don’t worry - it isn’t that there is one crawler for the entire web. The process is relatively fast for individual websites, but because of the number of domains, it can take up to a couple of months before your search engine optimization work takes off.


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