Since becoming a member of the team here at Boom Online, I have spent the majority of my first 6 months creating content for our clients. This has consisted mostly of writing articles to be featured as hub content, copywriting or longtail blog posts. In this article, I want to talk about writing for SEO by relating it to my favourite thing to do (except optimising websites, of course!) – DJing.
Music has always been one of my biggest passions and at around the age of 16, I started getting into DJing after I got a little controller for Christmas. But how does music and DJing relate to writing for SEO? Well, I’ll tell you how by comparing some key principles I’ve learned about DJing over the years that can also apply to SEO. A weird concept I know, but hear me out.
Read the Room
Reading the room is one of the most important skills to have as a DJ. You need to be able to look around and determine what song the crowd wants to hear. What is going to keep their feet moving and put a smile on their face? It’s a hard thing to do.
But when you write for SEO, you also need to read the room. Who is your target audience? Without an understanding of your target audience, you won’t be able to get through to them. You could write purely for SEO, putting all your targeted keywords and keyword phrases in all the right places, but this content is still going to be read by humans. If you end up alienating your audience, then it won’t matter that your copy or blog post ticks all of your SEO boxes, it needs to connect to the right people.
Picture the scene and imagine I’m DJing at a funk & soul night, and I started playing heavy metal. How is that connecting to the audience? Say I’m writing copy or a blog post for a client that sells bicycles, but didn’t use any cycling terminology, how are they going to relate to what they’ve read? If they can’t relate to it, are they going to share it with their friends? Will they respond to the CTAs? Probably not. Just like no one would come back to my funk & soul night, because I blasted out heavy metal.
Relating to your audience is about your tone and using semantic fields. Everything has a semantic field, and if you can get a grip of the semantic field used by your target audience, you can then relate to them.
This doesn’t mean that you have to become an expert in everything you write about. You just need to do a little bit of research before. The best place to do this is by looking at influencers and forums. Look at who has clout amongst your intended audience, what words are they using and how are they using them?
Forums are a great place to understand your audience too. You can find very specific forums or threads on websites like Reddit and Quora. To use the cycling example again, in these forums you’ll be able to identify a common tone of voice and words that crop up in the discussion which hardly ever appear in normal conversation. You may also find that they’ll be talking about what they look for in a bicycle. You can then determine what appeals to your target audience and inspires them to buy. Use this to your advantage when writing.
‘Keep it Simple, Stupid’
To borrow one of Michael Scott’s golden rules, keeping it simple is a good discipline to apply to your SEO writing. Your audience should be able to breeze through your writing without having to stop and think about what they’re reading.
There’s a number of ways to achieve this. Use short sentences. They’re easy to write. They’re easy to read. They flow naturally. They keep you interested.
Writing in short sentences is a literary technique that authors often use to create excitement and drama. Obviously, your writing shouldn’t consist only of really short sentences, but they naturally invite the reader to keep reading. It makes the reader sit up and take notice. And it’s all done subconsciously.
Long, convoluting sentences can frustrate your reader. If they have to go back and re-read a sentence multiple times to try and understand it, this will cause frustration. And internet users aren’t exactly known for their patience.
Steve Krug sums it up perfectly with the very title of his book on web usability, Don’t Make Me Think. Most of the time, web users don’t want to think about what they’re reading. The same applies when I’m DJing, I don’t want people to think about whether they’re enjoying the music or not. It should be instinctive.
Keep It Fresh
Let’s go back to my funk & soul night. If I play the same songs, in the same order, every time, people will eventually stop showing up. Not only that, the bouncers on the door of the club have gotten so sick of me playing the same songs over and over again that they’ve stopped letting people in. The same can happen with your writing for SEO. The bouncers being Google, obviously.
Duplicate content can impact your website’s rankings and doesn’t demonstrate that you’re putting in the effort to make unique, shareable content to Google. However, if you’re writing a big batch of copy, it can be hard to come up with new ways to describe the same thing. You can find yourself repeating the same phrases.
What I tend to do is, when I notice that I’m struggling to come up with unique copy, is simply leave it for the day. I like to break up my writing copy tasks into small bursts. When I leave it for a day, I always have a few unique phrases when I return to it. I play around with these, change them around a bit, and then eventually hit a wall again and leave it. That’s something I’ve found useful, you may have your own techniques for freshening your mind that may help, like moving to a different room to write it and so on.
When I DJ, I’m mixing two or more songs together to create a continuous flow of music. It helps if the songs are in concordant keys and the ideal mix is when you can’t tell when one song ends and the other begins. It has to be smooth, pique people’s interest and flow together.
Apply these principles to your SEO writing by creating opportunities to link internally throughout. Having related hub content is similar to songs being in the same key and good internal linking allows spiders to flow around your website, creating a coherent, continuous path of links that are relevant to each other.
Spiders and users should be able to follow the flow of your internal linking structure to move around the website smoothly, piquing their interest as they go along.
And there you have it, it turns out that writing for SEO and DJing aren’t so different after all. The above points are what I’ve found to be most pertinent when I’m writing here at Boom. As I was a History & English student before I joined the team here, I felt confident in my writing, but quickly learnt that writing for SEO and the internet in general is very different to how I would write at university.
The most important thing for me is trying to make sure the tone is right. Sometimes, there is no real tone needed and you’re simply trying to quickly demonstrate the value and benefit of the product/service you’re promoting. Other times, you can just tell that you have to adopt a certain tone otherwise the whole thing isn’t going to land.
I hope you’ve found my comparison useful. The next time you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to writing content, just try to look at it from a different perspective. You never know, it could be the most inspiring piece you write!