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Writing for Search Engines

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Creating search engine friendly web pages goes far beyond tweaking codes -- it's a delicate balancing act between pleasing the search engine and the people who will ultimately read (and act) on your content.

All too often I've seen aspiring webmasters obsess over meta tags, keyword density, and the other arcana that's supposedly important for successful search engine optimization. While there's no denying that a certain amount of basic "blocking and tackling" helps improve search engine rankings, ultimately it's the quality of content that counts.

In short, content that pleases search engine users, and fulfils and information need or prompts them to purchase something, is good. Content that's highly optimized for search engine algorithms, but fails to satisfy search engine users, is virtually doomed to a fate of obscurity.

So how do you write good content for search engines? Unfortunately, there's no magic formula. But there are some excellent online resouces that can help you learn to be a better online content writer.

Start with Nick Usborne's "Writing Online" column at ClickZ. While Nick doesn't specifically focus on writing for search engines, he does focus on effectively communicating in an online medium. Following his advice will help you sharpen your messages and improve your "search friendly" quotient.

Then take a look at the work of two acknowledged search engine writing gurus: Jill Whalen and Heather Lloyd-Martin. Jill and Heather originally worked as a team, publishing the Rank Write newsletter. Though they're both on to new, independent ventures, the Rank Write archives still offer a treasure trove of advice for search engine writing.

Jill's new endeavor is a newsletter called the High Rankings Advisor. She still frequently writes about writing, but also touches on a wide array of other search engine optimization issues.

Heather is also publishing a newsletter, co-authored with I-Search moderator Detlev Johnson. Like the High Rankings Advisor, TagLine covers both writing for search engines and broader search engine optimization issues.

Heather has also made a chapter from her upcoming book, "Successful Search Engine Copywriting" available for free viewing. The chapter, called "Writing for Spidering Search Engines," is packed with practical advice and examples drawn from successful search engine optimization efforts. It's an excellent read, and a good indicator that the entire book will be a must-read once it becomes available.

Effective writing for search engines can seem like a challenging, frustrating task, but it'll become a lot easier if you heed the advice of the excellent advice offered by the sources below.

Writing Online
http://www.clickz.com/design/write_onl/
ClickZ's MVP writer Nick Usborne talks about the all-important topic of writing for the Web. In this biweekly column, Nick makes a case for giving "words online" a great deal more attention and respect than they've received to date.

Rank Write
http://www.rankwrite.com/
The Rank Write Roundtable is a search engine optimization and copywriting Web site that features expert advice about successful copywriting for the search engines.

High Rankings Advisor
http://www.highrankings.com/advisor.htm
The High Rankings Advisor is Jill Whalen's free, weekly email newsletter discussing the latest news and information in the world of search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

TagLine
http://www.searchenginewriting.com/tagline.html
Written by I-Search moderator Detlev Johnson, and Heather Lloyd-Martin, TagLine features SEO case studies, resources and search engine news.

Writing For Spidering Search Engines
http://www.searchenginewriting.com/writing_searchengines.html
Heather Lloyd-Martin's guide provides you with an in-depth look into search engine copywriting techniques and strategy, and is written for marketers, by a marketer.

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