5 writing lies that sabotage your SEO

Do you listen to music when you write blog posts, or think you can only write when you have an original idea? You might be damaging your brand’s SEO.


Even people who are new to search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing understand how important content is to developing a brand presence.

Your content is your brand. It’s your voice in the market and how you convey your message to customers. Through your website copy, blog, articles, pitches and social updates you reach prospective customers and turn them into full-blown customers.

There’s just one problem: You can’t write. At least, that’s what you’ve told yourself for the past 30 years.

Because you don’t believe you can write, you seek advice from writers. But sometimes these folks point you in the wrong direction. They don’t mean to feed you lies or bad practices—it just happens.

Below are five well-intentioned pieces of writing advice that may do more harm than good when you write content for an SEO campaign. Abandon these “words of wisdom.” Your content will thank you.

1. “Listen to music while you write.”

This might be the worst advice ever, yet I’ve heard it many times. People say music helps block out distractions and makes you focus while you write. It will, but only if you listen to jazz, classical music, or songs without words.

But most of us don’t listen to jazz. We listen to music with catchy beats and sweet lyrics that make us dance around in our chair without shame. This creates an even more powerful distraction. Because our brains can’t help but focus on the lyrics, listening to music makes us focus less than we would on our own.

Music doesn’t help you tune out the world—noise does. If you want to put yourself in a state of focus, try SimplyNoise—it creates white noise—or check out RainyMood to let rain and thunder guide your pen. These sites will help you block out disruptions without creating new ones.

2. “Just write what you know.”

“Not sure what to write about on your blog today? Just write what you know!”

I’m not sure what this advice really means, but it’s terrible, vague and misleading. You should not write about what you know. No one cares about what you know. What people do care about is what they want to know. They want information they’re interested in and advice that will help them do something better. It’s not about you at all.

But don’t fret. The truly fantastic thing about having customers on the Web is that they tell you exactly what they want to know. They leave messages in your analytics, site logs, through conversations they have with you via social channels, and through the search modifiers they use.

Don’t write what you know. Write what your customers ask for. And use all the information you have at your disposal to figure out what that is.

3. “Write to impress.”

You don’t need to sound like a scientist when you talk to your customers. You just need to sound like them. Use the same words, share the same fears and concerns, and show them you’re a little weird, like them.

The best way to ruin the writing for your SEO campaign is to focus on yourself or your company before your customers. Focus on them, represent them.

4. “Writing is serious business.”

You write content to introduce people to your brand, communicate with them, and drive them to take a particular action. Your content probably won’t cure cancer or save puppies, so take off the cape. Remove all the pressure you feel to save the world and just write.

Write to your audience. Tell people exactly what you want them to know, and do it in their language. Talk to them like you talk to your closest friend. Do whatever you need to do to remove the pressure, because stress won’t help you speak to your audience effectively.

5. “Only share when you have an original idea.”

If you believe you can’t put a finger on the keyboard until you have something original or remarkable to say, you will spend a lot of time not writing content to help your SEO efforts.

There are no original ideas left. Everything you produce will reflect things you’ve consumed, thought about, or saw somewhere else. It’s okay to admit it. You don’t have to be 100 percent original, you just have to be interesting and valuable.

These are just a handful of writing myths I’ve seen suck the life out of many SEO campaigns and blog posts. What stumps your writing?

Lisa Barone is the chief branding officer of Outspoken Media. She’s also very active on Twitter, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

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