SEO & Word Repetition: Does Using Keywords Have To Ruin My Writing?

If you’re trying to turn your blog into a business (or blogging for a business), then you’ve probably done some research on SEO (and run into some headaches in the process).  Something you’ll see over and over again in that research is keyword optimization and how you should be sure to use your targeted keyword(s) over and over again in your article (*cough* word repetition *cough*). Some sites and companies will recommend putting your keyword in your title, first paragraph, subheader, each paragraph after that, tags, photos, and more.

In other words, they’ll tell you to make sure your keyword is repeated every 4th sentence at the very least.

From a writing-style perspective, this recommendation can easily result in clunky articles with little value beyond their SEO appeal. It goes against just about everything we’re taught about how to make writing interesting. So when a writer’s told that much repetition is necessary to get readers, it can easily cause an internal conflict: I want more people to click on my site, but, OMG, this article needs synonyms!

It’s like a pitched battle in your psyche. The hardened pragmatist says to forget about style. Style doesn’t put food on the table (or clicks on the website). Stick that keyword in every other sentence – put it multiple times in the same sentence! Whatever it takes. To which, the inner artist picks up a pencil in the shape of a sword and attacks, crying, “I would rather get no clicks than sacrifice the quality of my work!”

Sadly, I’m not sure that’s much of an exaggeration. And both sides are right (and wrong). Writing well doesn’t do you much good if no one makes it to the site to read your stuff. On the other hand, no one wants to read a keyword written 500+ times.

Like regular publishing, these two sides may have to compromise.

Now, I’m no SEO expert, but personally, I advocate writing as well as you can while following the rules of keyword optimization – up to a point. The point where the quality of the writing is threatened. After all, getting people to the site isn’t the only goal. We also want to keep them on the site (and coming back for more).

If it helps, there’s another reason not to get so caught up in stuffing your article with keywords. Actually, there are two: 1. search engines can count that as spam and 2. the quality of your articles affects your SEO (at least, according to Google’s SEO Optimization Starter GuideMoz’s Begginers Guide to SEO, and BruceClay).

I don’t know about you, but that right there is enough to make my hardened pragmatist reconsider. What about yours?

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