Balancing SEO with Readability

Exploring the key to balancing Search Engine Optimization with readability.

Life is a balancing act. We hear about balanced budgets in the news, a balanced diet from our doctor and there’s a ton of other forces which require balance in our everyday lives.

Even the plots of familiar fairy tales are based on finding the right balance. Think Goldilocks and The Three Bears – Goldilocks had to try the bowl of porridge that was too hot and the one that was too cold before she found the one that was just right.

Article writing and marketing isn’t any different in that we see many situations that require a delicate balance. One of the most challenging balancing acts in article marketing is the one between search engine optimization (SEO) and readability. The ultimate goal is to satisfy the complex and constantly updated search engine algorithms while also producing creative, natural-sounding and readable articles.

In this video, I’ll share the simple key to balancing SEO with readability and go a little more in-depth on what it means for you.

Downloadable Versions:
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Again, the key to balancing SEO with readability is to not even try. Here’s a review of the main points from the video:

  • Conscious (Or Unconscious) Desire to “Stuff” – When you’re writing articles solely for the sake of search engine optimization, there’s a desire to inflate the number of instances of your keywords so you can stand out in the eyes of search engines. The result is something we call keyword stuffing – a situation where there are so many instances of the same keyword throughout the article that it doesn’t sound natural. When a reader experiences this, they leave your article and look elsewhere for the information.
     
  • Too Few Keywords – If your article goes off-topic and doesn’t stay focused on your targeted keywords, the search engines may not recognize your article or index it. Articles like that may be easy-to-read, but they won’t get you any closer to optimizing your content for search engines.
     
  • Finding the Balance – “Don’t even try” sounds almost too simple, so think about the writing process like this:
     
    1. Before you write, decide what keywords to build the article around.
       
    2. Create a title that includes your chosen keywords.
       
    3. Write the article in your own words. (Don’t even try to ramp up the keyword density of your keywords, just write.)
       
    4. Check to see if the keyword density is around 1%. (1 instance of the keyword for about every 100 words)
       
    5. If the density is significantly higher or lower, remove or add a couple to get closer to 1%.
  • Easy-to-Read and SEO-Friendly – Always test the readability of your articles before you submit them. If it doesn’t sound natural when you read the article aloud, revise it until it does. Never sacrifice readability for anything else because that’s the most important thing.

Incorporate the “Don’t even try” mentality every time you write and submit a new set of high-quality, original articles.

What other areas of article writing and marketing do you feel you struggle to keep in balance? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

46 Comments »


1
Vaclav Gregor writes:

You are right. It really is that way. Just think about the keywords you want to include and start writing without thinking about SEO.
Greg

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 10:50 AM

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Mark Moore writes:

Wow, I never thought about it that way, thanks for the tip on SEO it makes me reconsider my whole way of writing.

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Kumar Jha writes:

What actually i find a convincing way for this is to keep your keywords close to each other in the form of key phrases. The best part of having a key phrase based article marketing is that your article dont sounds like a stuffed one.

For example if technical support is my keyword.. the way i would like to do it is by associating the second level of keywords like Microsoft tech support, windows support help desk, computer repair, handy desktop support center looking for laptop repair etc…

The key and success mantra for such balancing act is that i keep the complete article focused with my targeted service phrases, rather than trying to hit the bull eye with technical support.

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2
Bob Darrah writes:

This is great advice! One thing that helps me is to create key phrases and then break down the words…for example, (great long range rifle scopes), my keywords are great, long, range, rifle, scopes. Using them in the article is a lot easier if you don’t have to keep them in order and you can fit them in at a rate of 1% without sounding bad! But your advice may be better because I’m pretty adept at not thinking.
Thanks
Bob

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM

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3
Jan writes:

Thanks, your point is taken and also proven. When writing with focus on what the reader wants the result should invariably be good. Perhaps that’s why my site verslank.net comes up first, second and often also third on Google when you search “verslank” i.e. losing weight in Afrikaans.

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 1:57 PM

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4
cartmetrix writes:

I like to do keyword research while still planning a post or article to come up with a short list of six to ten keyword phrases. Then using a keyword research tool, I narrow it down to one or two phrases with the biggest potential to rank by balancing the volume of searches against the number of results. The best keywords have a good volume of monthly searches but less results available.

I keep notes of my research process, however, when the work of actually writing is begun, I hide my notes. I try to write only for my primary chosen keyword phrase. I have found that the other keywords are still rattling around in my head subconsciously and do tend to come out in the final content, but they end up flowing much more naturally than were I to use my list and tick them off one by one.

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 2:08 PM

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5
Kent Holden writes:

The things I like best about your blog are: the clairity, simplicity and organization. I am an visual and audio learner, not a text learner but I use text for quick reference. I have passed this blog post on to my team so that when they write marketing articles, they will do it the right way….keep up the great blogs.

Kent Holden

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 3:52 PM

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Kent, thanks for the kind words about our Blog. It’s good to hear we’re on the right track. Thanks, also, for passing the information on to others. :-)

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6

Easy to read and Seo friendly is one of the best combinations out there.
Balance is what most of us seek. Great Job

Alvaro

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

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7
Cheryl Pickett writes:

I also advise clients that there’s the overall balance in that not every article, blog post etc. needs to be for both man and machine. If you’ve got a great piece of info to share but you’re struggling with getting keywords in, I say, write it for your human readers anyway. Let them benefit even if your traffic isn’t going to get a boost because that’s the big picture point of what you’re trying to do in the first place-help people.

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

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8
Jeff Meuzelaar writes:

GREAT article. Amen. I am sending this article to all of my clients who actively blog. I commonly find people have a hard time keeping the article relevant while still inserting keywords. Thank you for posting…clear, concise, and to the point.

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

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9
Lynn Brown writes:

Great point @Cheryl Pickett. Bring in balance by not always having every post so concentrated on keywords that you sound like a Google Keyword Tool! Instead, balance it with maybe every5th post is a more natural, personal post to your readers and visitors. After all, part of building the awareness about you and your business it to let others know who you are. And a more pesonal post from the heart, rather than the Google Keyword Tool Box, will help you to ‘attract’ and ultimately pull in more traffic. Great video and information!

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 6:48 PM

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10
Mark Demers writes:

Excellent advice – What about keeping the paragraphs to a certain length too. Readability extends to the length of your paragraphs. Too long and everybody will go find another place to read the information you offer .

Have a Great Day !

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 7:01 PM

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11
Honest writes:

Balance? I also think is very important, and now many people are very extreme way, in fact, still need for balanced long-term development to consider radical approaches can only be a temporary effect, of course, does not deny the practice of some special

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 7:16 PM

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12
Glynis Jolly writes:

Excellent video. I’ve been avoiding the topic of SEO because I want my articles to be read. This is a simple answer that I intend to use.

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 8:18 PM

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13

Thanks, your point is taken and also proven. When writing with focus on what the reader wants the result should invariably be good. Perhaps that’s why my site vietiso. net comes up first, second and often also third on Google when you search “vietiso” i.e. bang gia seo in vietnam.

Comment provided February 14, 2011 at 9:12 PM

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14
Graham Bray writes:

Great article, really understood and enjoyed the content. I guess my problem is under-utilisation of keywords. I’ll now begin by choosing the keywords and letting the article evolve.
On a separate topic, what do you use to put together your presentation? I really like the integration of live video with graphics.

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 12:59 AM

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15
Rahinur Rahaman writes:

Dear Marc,

Thank you for this good post. Specially thanks for describing the balance factor between Readability and Search Engine Optimization.

I’m a blogger and EzineArticles.com Expert Author. I think this post will be a milestone for my next blog post

Rahinur Rahaman

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 1:54 AM

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16
William Post writes:

I have often caught myself having the “desire to Stuff” a post or an article with keywords.
I do also believe that a piece of writing should read easy and natural. Choosing the right keywords from the beginning is the proper way to do it. And like someone said above – pack with keywords every fourth or fifth one, depending on how often one posts.

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 2:10 AM

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17
Cerri writes:

Before you write, decide what keywords to build the article around?

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 6:52 AM

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18

Thanks for the video! Always helps understanding to see it in a visual way too – great job.

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 7:10 AM

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19
Jerome writes:

Just like cartmetrix, i spend some time too on keyword research. Most of the time I target longtail keywords then I place this in my title just like what was suggested here.

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 7:57 AM

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20
Frank Tibbetts writes:

Hi Marc,
Great post, on target and on the money.
Frank

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 8:21 AM

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21
joe writes:

Before you write, decide what keywords to build the article around?

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 8:50 AM

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22
Sterling Mayson writes:

Thanks as always for the continuing education, EzineArticles.

Re: the SEO and Readability balance, there are some topic keywords that do not have suitable synonyms to use to keep keyword density at the desired level. For example, consider the keyword ‘diabetes’. If you are writing a general information 700 word article about diabetes, its definition, pathophysiology, symptoms, causes and treatments, how can you avoid using the word “diabetes’ throughout the article without using overusing the word ‘it’ in its place? There really is no accurate substitute word for ‘diabetes’.

In situations such as these, is there a human editor that overides the keyword count to maintain readability and quality in the article?

Related to that: are all submitted articles reviewed by a human editor?

Thanks.

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 10:16 AM

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23
Evelyn Belanger writes:

Your articles explains the art of writing better then any that I have read. You make it very simple. Just concentrate on the keywords you want to add to your article and “forget it all” in trying to make the SEO your prime topic and process.

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 2:03 PM

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24
peter writes:

Great article! The more advice the better, Keep it up , I do property management in St John’s and I’m trying a lot of different stuff to bring more business my way

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 7:45 PM

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25
Emmitt Hollin writes:

You make some excellent points. When I was a newbie to this I totally stressed out about keywords in articles. Now I realize if you provide good content, and largely forget about SEO when you right, you will be doing the right thing.

I had a similar experience to Sterling Mayson above. I wrote an article about guitars. It was rejected. It’s hard to write about guitars and not mention guitars very often!

Comment provided February 15, 2011 at 9:30 PM

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26

I have many problems to write article to submit, how to balancing, redialability, finding the balance, it is too hard for me, i was searching this solution from many days before but i got it from my mail, when i saw this main i am going to delete it that i think this was a spam, but when i saw this it is really acknowledgeble and tips to improve to be friendly with seo.
thank you…

Comment provided February 17, 2011 at 1:54 AM

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27
Mark Hundley writes:

Great and timely topic – thatnks for the input. It’s amazing to see some of the keyword stuffed content out there. You had a video out some time ago on the same topic that showed two ladies talking about “losing belly fat” it was a riot and still sticks with me.

Comment provided February 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM

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28

Great supportive article. Thanks for reinforcing the idea that writing for the readability and getting the information out there is the most important concept in article writing. I can see the difference in my own articles when keeping that point in mind.

Question: Is there a link to check keyword density? If so, please let me know what it is. I’ve not done this yet. Thanks!

Comment provided February 21, 2011 at 6:23 PM

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29

I believe, writing solely for the readers WORKS too…just that you have to be focused on the topic that you write…

Comment provided March 3, 2011 at 10:32 PM

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30

uh, I never thought about it that way, thanks for the tip on SEO it makes me reconsider my whole way of writing. I will learn more for design website.

Comment provided March 4, 2011 at 10:00 AM

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31
Sarah writes:

great ideas. yes, SEO is a art of balance. Thanks for sharing, that’s what I’m working for.

Comment provided May 4, 2011 at 4:23 AM

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32
Teresa writes:

Great advice. I love writing, but I find if I worry about all the SEO and traffic sides to it I get writer’s block.

Thanks also for the video format. I find that I retain more of the information than skimming an article.

Comment provided May 4, 2011 at 10:28 AM

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33
Portland SEO writes:

You have pointed out a great issue. Without this balancing act, either you put-off your readers or make a waste of your post by not optimizing it to help your own website. It’s easier said than done but it is still doable.

Comment provided July 26, 2011 at 4:56 AM

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34
Robert Marriott writes:

Very helpful, thanks. I’ll certainly start from the top and work my way down to the resource box.
Oh…and I won’t even try!

Comment provided October 17, 2011 at 4:23 PM

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35
Perri writes:

Marc,

Very practical tips that are easy to remember and incorporate in our writing. Thanks so much and keep the great videos coming.

Comment provided October 17, 2011 at 8:21 PM

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36
Stacie Walker writes:

I like this post because it seems that the articles that get the best results are due to quality content and proper planning. Throw rich keywords in the mix and a great article is created.

Stacie Walker

Comment provided October 17, 2011 at 10:23 PM

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37

I like this post that provides me with information to consider when writing a post. It is like life itself – balance is the key to success:-)

Comment provided October 18, 2011 at 2:33 AM

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38
William Bell writes:

This post certainly helps to keep the balance between hi-tech and hi-touch.

Comment provided October 18, 2011 at 11:29 AM

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39
izzat zainal writes:

Hi,

Based on this tips “Easy-to-Read and SEO-Friendly – Always test the readability of your articles before you submit them. If it doesn’t sound natural when you read the article aloud, revise it until it does. Never sacrifice readability for anything else because that’s the most important thing.”

Can you teach me how to test the readibility of my article..

Thank you and sorry for noob question..:)

Comment provided November 9, 2011 at 2:42 PM

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Izzat –

The answer is right there. To improve the readability of your article, simply read it aloud. If it doesn’t sound natural when you read the article aloud, revise it until it does.

Another tip to improve readability is to have somebody else read and edit your article.

And a final tip is to write your article using one of our article templates. The templates will keep you on track and help you write well-organized and easy-to-read articles. You can find out more about our templates here: http://shop.EzineArticles.com/DeckOfCardTemplates/

– Marc

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40
Anton allen writes:

SEO and article writting is an art, over do it and your content looks like spam, thanks for the post I have taken the tips on board and i hope others do as well

Comment provided May 4, 2012 at 7:29 AM

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41
Al Remoroza writes:

It’s a must that when you write, you must understand how SEO make your life work by internet make it easy. It’s a big factor to consider. Thanks for this. You’re right that seo is useless if it’s not help the people and not well to understand.

Comment provided July 15, 2012 at 7:23 AM

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42
Richard Hartley writes:

Article absolutely on topic. Too many people write their articles with SEO in mind and lose the natural flow of the language. Also keep your keywords as focused as possible and do not try to spread them too thin. I try to keep it down to 2 keyword phrases.

Thanks for the article.

Comment provided October 3, 2012 at 7:17 AM

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