Writing Style vs. Writing for SEO

As someone offering professional web design, it is hard to resist editing content to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I have a few clients that prefer very brief headings about their products or services. While this idea makes sense , you are giving up value by avoiding longer, descriptive headings. For SEO, descriptive headings are important for best searching practices. Descriptive headings are also necessary for meeting WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0) So, how is a creative writer to cope?

Red Balls with the word SEO on them symbolizing that SEO is in our blood

Creative Writing and SEO

The challenge you have as a writer is multifaceted.

  1. Stick to your writing style
  2. Consider how your writing can be improved to help your audiences understand clearly.

Take into consideration that these days most people can scan an article to decide what parts of it to read . Therefore, the textual content of each heading is a priority.

So if you have a writing style that uses single or two word headings you can still accomplish this if the hierarchy supports it. Hierarchy is critical in web design:

A crucial point to remember is that the "descriptiveness" of a sub-heading also relies on context. For example, with a heading like "Primary Colors and Their Psychological Impact" you could write single word sub-headings below as "Red", "Yellow" and "Blue" because the parent heading explains them. This would satisfy the need for both readability and understanding.

Going Overboard to boost SEO with every heading would look something like this:

Primary Colors and Their Psychological Impact (Heading 1 - Primary Heading)

The Psychological Impact of the Primary Color Red (Heading 2 - Sub-Heading)

The Psychological Impact of the Primary Color Yellow (Heading 2 - Sub-Heading)

The Psychological Impact of the Primary Color Blue (Heading 2 - Sub-Heading)

I'm sure you can see how someone scanning a page would be reading "extra words" and it is, in fact, a cacophony of words making it what I call a "clunky" read.

On occasion, it isn't practical to have a specific keyword phrase in a Heading 1, (H1) so it is key to include that phrase in a subsequent paragraph. If it doesn't make sense , then you can reconsider the structure of the article.

Headings shouldn't get to the point of being clunky. They still need to be readable, understandable, and make sense in context. Often, working to make your message super clear can tempt you to rewrite it or re-sequence it and even add additional sections to your content because the revised hierarchy lends itself to another subtopic.  Maybe.. your writing will get better!

Read this post on my Sustainable WordPress blog if you are interested in learning more about user's online reading habits.