Once upon a time being an online writer sounded like a wonderful idea - you write your heart off, you publish your creations for free and the readers simply come. Guess what - crowds and crowds of people judged the idea just as brilliant. With this multitude, it is increasingly hard to get your stuff seen on the Web. SEO and keyword research can help you in this task but - and this is an important question - does writing with keywords influence the quality of your writing? Is it possible that keywords, while making content visible, turn it into something not worth looking at? If so, what can we do about it? Join the discussion.
Writing with keywords - nightmare, necessity or both?
Can a keyword-free website be visible in today's Internet world? Do keywords destroy quality of writing?
Writing with keywords - what it's all about?
Most online writers are already familiar with this term.
To put it simply - you use keywords to tell search engines what your website is about.
Few Internet users search further than the first-second-third page of search results. If you want your content to be visible, you have to write about something that is popular with readers, but not already written extensively about by other online writers. If you find the right phrase, your page is likely to come up on top of the search results and this translates to traffic.
It's not enough to use your key phrase once or twice in a 1000 word article. Search engines are not very bright, they get the message by repetition. Your keywords need to be scattered all over your page. SEO gurus will be quick to prescribe the specific level of keyword saturation necessary for the best results, but as I don't claim to be one, I'll leave this subject to the 'experts'. I know one thing - if you're writing a page about seven-spotted ladybirds, you have to repeat the phrase 'seven-spotted ladybird' as often as you can. 'Red and black patterned insect' won't do. Search engines are not really good at grasping metaphors or non-obvious similes. Once you have picked your keyword, you have to stay focused on this particular phrase and repeat, repeat, repeat, or else the Almighty Search Engine won't get the message.
Writing with keywords and quality of writing
When I was at school, repeating one word or phrase too often was considered a stylistic error. We were trained to avoid repetition by any means possible - to use synonyms or metaphors, to enrich our vocabulary in order not to use the same words again and again. I find that habit hard to shake off. I have serious doubts if I should try.
Rich, beautiful language is not based on keywords. Those two concepts just exclude each other. There's not much I can add to this basic fact.
I've come across many people who disagree with this claim, saying that keywords simply help them stay focused on their topic. I respect their opinion, but the truth is I still prefer a piece written by a talented writer to an article created by a master of SEO. Beauty of language is not something that search engines understand and reward. Unfortunately.
Do you believe writing with keywords has negative influence on the quality of writing?
Is writing with keywords necessary to succeed in online writing?
To answer shortly - I believe it is.
I've been writing content for the Web for more than two years and this is one of the most bitter lessons I've learned so far. It is often claimed that being passionate about your subject is sufficient to achieve 'success' in online writing. I guess it all depends on how you define success. If you think it equals traffic, then passion is not enough (and any exceptions only confirm the rule) - you need solid knowledge of SEO and you need those blasted keywords.
For a long time, I happily shunned writing with keywords, considering them backward evolution. Pretty much everything I wrote in those days enjoys an occassional visitor or two (and plenty of praise) but does not suffer from anything even remotely similar to decent traffic. It is technically possible that I am just extremely unlucky. It is also technically possible that the Sun will not rise tomorrow. I'm sure you can see my point.
Your turn - is writing with keywords necessary in content writing?
No, you can make it by passion alone
It is, unless you're not motivated by traffic
Writing with keywords and preserving sanity
I absolutely hate writing with keywords. I am convinced no good piece of writing can be produced with keywords in mind. Yet, I use them - because they pay. In the online world, traffic equals profit.
To preserve sanity, I follow two simple rules:
1. From time to time, I write an article for the pure pleasure of it, disregarding each and every SEO rule. This reminds me what joy writing can be.
2. I do not defend quality of keyword-stuffed writing only because I am guilty of using them. It is one thing to produce mediocre things for profit, it is quite another to claim those things are great and/or profit has nothing to do with it. I find that being clear about this helps, if only because I can aim for something better once the bills are paid.