Write For Human, Not Google As It May Treat Antonyms As Synonyms
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The essential role of the search engine in today’s internet sphere is indisputable. Still, many webmasters and bloggers go astray when they place too much emphasis on appealing to search engines such as Google.
The result is often the opposite of what they were hoping to achieve. Instead of improving their site’s search engine rankings, these webmasters publish content that causes their website to plummet in rank, landing on page 37 for their target keyword. So how does this happen?
Writing for Search Engines
When a webmaster or blogger writes for search engines, the result is content that is, at best, challenging to read, and at worst, lacks any sort of real meaning or context.
We’ve all encountered this sort of content. It’s typically packed with keywords, often resulting in woeful grammar and terrible flow. These articles are often much, much longer than necessary. It’s not uncommon to see 400 words on a topic that could have been adequately addressed in two or three sentences.
In its worst form — often borne from an article spinning software program — this made-for-search-engines content is entirely nonsensical, save for the 43 instances of the grammatically incorrect “strategies weight loss.”
Quite simply, this sort of content is worthless to the reader. It’s written in an attempt to rank for specific keywords. But the effect is typically the exact opposite. Since the content is virtually unreadable, it causes the website to drop off the radar.
Writing for Real Readers
The lesson? Always write content that will appeal to actual humans; don’t write exclusively for search engines. In doing so, you will inherently appeal to the search engines. The reason? Google’s algorithms are virtually all rooted in user interactions; the search engine’s goal is to deliver relevant, accurate results that its users will enjoy. Therefore, user experience is of the utmost importance when it comes to Google’s ranking algorithms.
When you write user-friendly content, it will resonate with readers. This is the type of content that readers will want to share via social media and via links on their own blogs or websites! That’s right! Well-written, useful content generates backlinks.
In fact, with today’s steep unnatural linking penalties, this reader-centric content is the single most effective way to generate backlinks that will actually benefit your site in terms of SEO. That’s because each link serves as a testament to the quality of your content.
Well-written content will also increase the amount of time spent on-page and on-site, which is a major ranking factor. That heavily-keyworded nonsensical content is suitable for a couple seconds on-site; then, the reader hits the back button. This results in a very high bounce rate, which tells Google “this site isn’t offering anything of value.” But when readers stay on-page and actually read the content, this decreases your bounce rate and increases the average time spent on-site, effectively telling Google “this content offers something of value!”
Writing for Humans, Not Machines That Are Still Making Mistakes
There’s another reason to write for humans and not Google search spiders when creating content, and that’s because the algorithms, AI, and machine ranking system behind Google search results continues to make pretty serious mistakes.
Google’s own Gary Illyes and John Mueller (two senior employees working closely on the Google Search Project) have always been really upfront and candid about how frequently Google still makes mistakes analyzing pages – mistakes humans won’t make!
Believe it or not, Google search still has a tough time understanding the difference between synonyms and antonyms.
It’s not all that unusual for Google to mix the two up, crossing wires between these two very different types of words and mixing up results along the way.
For example, let’s just say that someone was searching for “buy real estate”.
If Google returned results for the phrase “sell real estate” – with a completely opposite meaning – the results would be completely irrelevant and of no use to the person that initiated the first search for real estate to buy.
Why we as human beings recognize that someone looking to buy something is the complete opposite of someone looking to sell something, the machines behind the scenes at Google aren’t as savvy.
Google search experts reveal that antonyms (like “buy” and “sell”, for example) are often considered as “low weight synonyms” by the AI and ranking system at Google.
For more technical details about Google’s information retrieval process, listen to the full podcast episode.
Other Tips for Writing Reader-Friendly Content
As you write your content, remember to interlink related articles. This can serve to increase the number of pages per visit, which is yet another important ranking factor. A well-written article, with a link to a related article, can transform one-page view into several!
Using the occasional keyword in a natural manner is perfectly acceptable, but remember to avoid unnatural use and avoid keywords that are grammatically incorrect or splice these keywords between multiple sentences. For instance, if you are targeting “real estate Los Angeles,” you might split it between two sentences like this: “….in real estate. Los Angeles residents….”
So as you write for your website or blog, remember to write in a way that will appeal to readers. Be honest with yourself: is the content you’re writing something that you would want to read? If the answer is ‘no,’ then it’s time to rewrite!