Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!
In both spoken and written English, we use the pronoun it to take the place of a noun that has already been specified at some earlier point in the conversation or document. For example, we generally write or say:
Bill threw the cake and it splattered on the wall.
We don’t say:
Bill threw the cake and the cake splattered on the wall.
It’s different when a website owner begins writing copy for their pages.
Writing for Search Engines is a phrase in the copywriting industry that I don’t particularly care for. Good copy is written for the benefit and pleasure of humans, not bots. Yet, good web copywriters always keep those bots in mind in what they are doing.
Every page on your site represents an opportunity to rank well for a given word or a couple of phrases. Google’s bots crawl the text of the page, registering what the main focus of it is, and store it in their index to be brought up for search engine users whenever it is relevant to a search. It is the emphasis placed on the important words in the tags and main copy of a page that lets the bots know what that page is meant to be about.
And, that’s why it’s a crying shame to come across pages that read like this:
Our product makes a wonderful gift. It is beautiful hanging on a patio, in a breezeway or in that special spot in your garden. It is specially tuned to the mixolydian mode by Trappist monks who have made their sacred homes in the Mountains of Norway for five centuries. This item is made of colorful copper and it is guaranteed not to rust.
Copy like this can only leave the reader asking, “what IS it? A tuba? A flag? A sculpture?” Instead of naming the product clearly, the copy is substituting words like product, item and it. Both the customer and the Googlebot are left with a very vague idea of what is being presented.
Going Crazy In the Other Direction
A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Too often, small business owners hear that their copy needs to include keywords, and the result of this tidbit of information reads like this:
Our Monastery Windchimes make a wonderful gift. Monastery Windchimes are beautiful hanging on a patio, in a breezeway or in that special spot in your garden. Monastery Windchimes are specially tuned to the mixolydian mode by Trappist monks who have made their sacred homes in the Mountains of Norway for five centuries, making Monastery Windchimes. Monastery Windchimes are made of colorful copper and Monastery Windchimes are guaranteed not to rust.
This keyword craziness makes the reader feel like they are stuck in a pinball machine, whacking into hard bumpers over and over again. The effect is ugly and silly. Writing web copy does not mean sounding like a broken record. Both the Google bot and your readers can cope with something subtler.
What I’d Consider A Good Web Copywriting Compromise
Our Monastery Windchimes make a wonderful gift. Monastery Windchimes are beautiful hanging on a patio, in a breezeway or in that special spot in your garden. They are specially tuned to the mixolydian mode by Trappist monks who have made their sacred homes in the Mountains of Norway for five centuries. Monastery Windchimes are made of colorful copper and are guaranteed not to rust.
The reader is aware that something specific is being emphasized – in this case, a product name – and the Googlebot will pick up on this, too, provided the various page tags receive similar treatment. Talented, off-line writers may feel odd at first trying to write this way. Back in 5th grade, Teacher told you not to repeat yourself in a paragraph or a paper; to choose an alternative noun, adjective or adverb. That advice holds true up to the point of making an elegant, interesting piece of copy that engages the reader, but sometimes clever substitutions must be sacrificed if the goal of a page is to target terms that are important to your business.
Basically, it boils down to being just a little bit more repetitive in your writing than you would be in your normal daily speech. But don’t go overboard. Go for a natural style with a dash of added emphasis on the words that matter most. With practice, this method of writing will become a mode of expressing yourself that feels comfortable and effortless.