How Writer’s Block Can Ruin Your SEO Efforts (and How to Prevent it)

Writer’s Block; we all get it. In fact I find myself having it right now…

I think it’s a safe assumption that none of us are immune to the syndrome, much less the symptoms.

Writer’s block causes us all frustration, and this frustration leads to additional symptoms. No, I’m not talking about physical symptoms. I’m referring to what it causes us to do, or how we react to that frustration.

When I have writer’s block, I have the tendency to Google the topic I’m writing about. Google has become my resource for additional information and a reference guide to better understand the topic I’m writing about. Why? Because I trust Google will provide me with the best, most accurate, most relevant and most authoritative and trustworthy content available on the web. I know I’m not alone in this; otherwise Google wouldn’t be the #1 most visited website according to Alexa Traffic Rank.

So what does writer’s block have to do with being unfriendly to SEO?

The action of having writer’s block in and of itself is not SEO-unfriendly, but what it causes us to do is. Just as I mentioned before, users trust Google to provide authoritative and accurate content to provide users with the best content possible. Google continues to combat “scraping” tactics and “content farms.”  In layman’s terms, this is publishing unoriginal content taken from another website as your own.

In an effort to continue to provide authoritative and original content, Google is constantly bettering their algorithm to showcase unique content. After much anticipation, Google released and announced a major update in late February now known as the “Farmer Update” in a continuing endeavor to favor sites rich in unique content in search results.

So what does Google consider unique and original content? Content found nowhere else. Google frowns upon what is referred to as ‘duplicate content.’ It’s as simple as going back to the idea of writing college essays and not plagiarizing.

Need an example?

Wikipedia serves as an excellent model of what a content-rich site looks like. Since it’s open to editing by users (which ironically is the same reason some still find it less than credible), when Google crawls this site, it finds unique content not found anywhere else on the web on a very specific topic (in other words, each page talks all about one subject or issue). When Wikipedia was first launched, I was still in school and teachers would constantly reiterate “Wikipedia is not a proper reference!” Since then, it’s changed; it is now controlled and monitored much more closely; so much so that many scholars have expressed its reliability and accuracy. The result? Results! (In Google that is). Not only does Google trust Wikipedia as a site overall, but Google frequently includes Wikipedia pages in its results due to the reliable, original content it is believed to possess.

This all being said, writer’s block is obviously less than ideal during a time when the desire to attain high rankings in Google is equivalent to the desire of attaining the American Dream in the 1920s.

Here are a few ways I work to avert the effects of both writer’s block and unoriginal content:

1.       Write what you know! You are the expert on your industry. It’s safe to say you keep up on your industry and what is going on in it, along with experiential knowledge of course.

2.       Step away for awhile. In my experience, stepping away and working on something else and coming back to your writing project allows you to look at it from a fresh perspective, and perhaps even think of additional ideas that you didn’t think about before.

3.       When you have to research the topic, don’t just use one source. When you must “Google It,” don’t just use the first result or even the first page. Explore a large variety of sources.

4.       Know the ultimate goal of the page you’re writing. When you are looking to write a new page for your website you should keep the end goal in mind. What do you want people to know? What is the desired action after they read that page?

5.       Don’t procrastinate! OK, so this one may not work for those of you who actually thrive under pressure. I’m certainly in the minority when it comes to procrastinators. As in I’m not one… at all. In fact, I was the one in school who had my projects done a week in advance (OK two). But seriously, it gives you a lot more flexibility in stepping away and coming back to the task at hand with a fresh perspective!

6.       Be reader-focused. The most important thing to consider is your readers, or your target market. What do your readers want to know? When someone finds you in Google, what are they hoping to learn? THAT is what you should write about.

Happy writing!