Writing for Readers Instead of Google

Are you ready to switch from writing blog posts for Google to writing for social media or other sources of traffic? It’s very freeing, but it requires a whole new mindset.

As I said recently, I’m assuming our Google traffic isn’t coming back, even if it is. The HCU actually only cost me traffic on one of my sites. But even so, I believe we’re seeing the writing on the wall.

Man typing on laptop on table

So I’m shifting to writing my website content for readers, and therefore social media, newsletters and any traffic source that doesn’t screen my pages.

And my bet is that it will also be the best move I can make to regain Google traffic.

Search Engines Screen Your Content

The weird and unique thing about most search engines is that they send bots to read your pages before sending writers to them. Because of this, you have to think about how your page will read to a bot before you consider readers. Because if the bot doesn’t “like” your copy, the search engine isn’t going to show it to readers. (Pinterest is the exception here.)

Throughout human history, we’ve written for our audience. Whether we’re writing novels or marketing copy, we write with humans in mind – not computer algorithms.

Laptop next to notebook on which is written Pinteresting Strategies

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Writing for the algo has distorted our writing – and also made things harder.

It Should Be The Same Thing

This is the crux of the problem. Writing for Google and writing for your readers should be the same thing. Google keeps assuring us it is, but the bot keeps failing to distinguish spammy sites from sites that give human readers what they’re looking for.

If Google really is evolving the algorithm to pick human-pleasing content over spam, then eventually they’ll catch up with those of us who are writing for readers, and rank us well. On the other hand, if their motives are less pure than that, then writing for humans is still our best option. Because it will attract human readers who aren’t using Google to find what they want online.

By their own admission, Google is already losing younger searchers.

Younger generations aren’t always using traditional search engines. According to Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, nearly 40% of Gen Zers search using TikTok or Instagram.

Writing for Humans = Writing for Socials, Email, Etc.

The best thing about writing for humans is that it also works really well for social media, newsletter marketing, Pinterest and any other source of traffic than search.

Social media and Pinterest don’t scan your text. They evaluate your pins and statuses based on how they perform on their platform, not what your text says. And how they perform is decided by human users.

But I Don’t Want to Lose Google Traffic

Neither do I. As I said above, my bet is that this tactic will give me as much chance as any of winning back my Google traffic. Why?

Because we never really know what good SEO is. It’s not a stable value. Look at how hard we all worked on those low volume keywords, only to see HCU hit a lot of sites using that strategy. As if Google was offended by our very attempts to rank.

HCU made it clear that Google doesn’t care about SEO. They don’t actually even want users to find what they’re searching for.

They want users to drown in ad views until they click ads. Our pages are just padding in between the ads. You can knock yourself out to be the very best ad padding or you can start focusing on other traffic sources.

And if I’m wrong, and Google really does want readers to find good articles, then the bot will evolve to realize my articles are good even if I don’t use the keyphrase in the first paragraph or have the right headers or build links.

The Mindset

I’ve always considered readers when I write. But take a look at some examples of the sort of worries that evaporate when you give up on pleasing the search bot.

Am I Using the Best Keywords?

Keyword research has become a highly profitable cottage industry. The “low volume keyphrase” strategy swept the web during the last few years, and HCU struck down a surprising number of sites using that strategy.

People spent hundreds to thousands of dollars a month finding these keywords. And the HCU knocked their sites even further down the authority ladder.

Well, this is my very favorite part of writing for readers: I get to write about topics my readers want to hear from me on, regardless of whether Google thinks I have any business talking about it or not.

Did I Nail the Keyword Density?

It’s so much easier to think of this from a human’s perspective rather than a bot’s. Follow basic rules of good writing instead.

Will Google Ding Me for Affiliate Links?

Instead of worrying about this, shift to considering whether your affiliate strategy is turning off visitors or not.

Is a Key Takeaways section for SEO?

The question becomes: does it engage readers or turn them off to reading the rest of your page?

Will Google Penalize Me for Using AI in Text or Photos?

Instead, worry about whether this content is giving readers what they want (it absolutely can, when you put in enough effort). And keep an eye on AI plagiarism lawsuits to make sure the tools and techniques you use aren’t going to get you in trouble.

Did I meet Core Web Vitals?

People make themselves crazy and spend tons of money to meet these stats. While they’re not bad stats to aim for, they’re not the whole of user experience.

Users do want fast sites. Make sure yours are reasonably fast, especially on mobile – test them on tools like WebPageTest – and then move on to other important tasks.

This is especially helpful when your users want your site to have special features. Instead of worrying that these features might cause you to fail a piece of CWV, only consider whether they are actually slowing down or breaking the site enough to turn off your users.

Do Headers/Bullet Points Help SEO?

Instead, wonder if they help readers. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Also consider how they do or don’t help ad revenue, if that’s your main earning strategy.

How Do I Win the Snippet?

The what? Just kidding. But it’s wonderful not having to worry about things like this. Just focus on grabbing readers’ attention as early as possible, and then keeping it for the duration.

The Joy of Writing for Human Traffic Sources

Since I started writing for human traffic sources, I’m much less stressed. The only non-human consideration in my head is optimizing pages for ad revenue. Like Google, I make a living off my websites, so I do have to consider that.

I didn’t realize how many things I worried about all day long. I was hesitating to add things I knew readers would like for fear the Googlebot wouldn’t approve.

I don’t want to lose search traffic, but after one of my sites getting hit by HCU – the first time any of my sites got hit by a Google update – I realize it’s really not up to me. Google’s gonna do what Google’s gonna do. And I’ve gotta do what my readers want me to do.

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Last Updated:

February 27, 2024

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