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How to create less “keywordy” content

Have you ever noticed how utterly noticeable search keywords are?

Search engine optimization is older than Google. The term itself appears to date back to 1997—a year before the world’s top search engine began building its infamous algorithms to decide which pages would rise to the top and which would fall. You’d think we’d all be better at navigating this content challenge by now.

And yet.

Smart content creators know that good content—not SEO—makes the world go ‘round. But that doesn’t mean the index words you use aren’t important. Much to the contrary.

Can you craft compelling stories while checking a few vital words off a list of search terms? Sure you can. And here’s how:

Go to war with weird
Go ahead. Plop every word on your list into your content. Go crazy. Be creative. Discover creative ways to use keywords.

And. Then. Walk. Away.

Come back with fresh eyes. Better yet, bring someone else’s eyes into the process, and ask this question: “Does anything just seem—weird?”

If the answer is “yes,” it is you solemn duty to cut, even if it means losing a coveted search term in that instance. Find another place for it. Then walk away again.

And again. And again. Until the weirdness is gone.

Don’t overdo it
Google’s secret sauce is just that: a big, honkin’ secret. Worse, it frequently changes. Yet over the years, a few principles have remained constant. For instance, the hierarchy of words matters. Terms in headlines and the first few paragraphs of a page tend to result in higher page rankings.

The bad news is that makes it all the more important to get your words of choice up high. The good news is that allows you to craft the rest of your content with less concern for finding a place for every last word you wish to check off your list.

Um, did we mention good content?
We did? Good. Because content that is actually related to your organization, its mission and its values is going to do so much more for your page rankings than any arbitrarily spliced-in words. Create great content, then take a look at your words. If you can slot them in without things getting weird, then why wouldn’t you? But if you can’t, trust your content.

(Terms we used in this blog post: “search keywords,” “search engine optimization,” “Google,” “algorithms,” “search terms,” “SEO,” “higher page rankings.” Come get ’em, Google.)