There’s a lot of confusion these days about the difference between SEO articles and blog posts — and rightly so, because the lines are blurring.
- SEO articles are written purely with the goal of helping to boost websites up the rankings of Google.
- Blog posts are written to engage prospective customers and clients, without much consideration for Google rankings.
A lot of my students get confused when a client asks them for a blog post and then sends over a brief that resembles an SEO article, and, equally, a lot of my students get pissed off when a piece of work is agreed upon at SEO-article rates, and then the brief sent over entails a lot of work and looks suspiciously like a blog post.
The trouble is, everybody has different ideas about what these things mean. The way you describe something is not necessarily how your client thinks of it. Maybe they want a ‘blog post’ to use for SEO purposes, or perhaps they think an article is an article is an article. This can lead to a lot of way-off-base quotes and short-changed writers.
So, because you and your client’s ideas may differ, it’s important for you to be able to examine and identify for yourself which is which, so you can decide how to price something based on your client’s description of what they want, rather than on what they call it.
That way, even if your client requests an ‘SEO article’, you can tell by asking a couple of quick questions that what they’re actually asking for is, by your standards, a blog post, and so you should quote them blog post rates.
Now let’s take a closer look at each one:
What is an SEO Article?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and its sole purpose is to help websites rank more highly in Google search results. Businesses want to achieve this so they can attract more visitors and, by extension, more customers. There are lots of different tactics involved in an SEO strategy, and SEO article writing is just one of them. You may also hear it referred to as simply SEO writing, SEO content or SEO articles.
These articles are placed on various websites and linked back to the website someone is trying to rank more highly in Google. This is called ‘link building’.
Suppose a florist wants to rank highly for ‘flower delivery’. Flower-related articles containing the keyword ‘flower delivery’ could be used in their SEO campaign. Once the articles were written, they’d be posted around the web and linked back to the florist’s own website; the more links pointed at the florist’s website, the more highly the website is likely to rank, especially if those links are placed on what Google considers high-quality websites. This is that link-building thing we talked about.
What is a Blog Post?
There’s not much point of getting your website onto the first page of Google if, when people click through to your site, they immediately leave because they’re not impressed with what they found. That’s why more and more people are turning to quality blog posts instead of using old-fashioned SEO techniques.
The whole point of blog posts is to attract and engage readers, and to build rapport and trust, which can eventually turn these readers into paying customers. For example, a lot of people stumble on my blog by searching for ‘how to become a freelance writer’. They read the sales page for my course and, though they think it sounds good, I’m just this random chick they found through a Google search, and £299 is a lot of money to slam down on a complete stranger. So they read my blog. They like what I have to say. They trust what I have to say, and begin to believe that I really can help them. Eventually, they make the leap and register for my course, because they want the step-by-step, one-on-one guidance I promise.
So, quality blog posts are things that people actually read — unlike SEO articles, which are written solely for Google. Therefore, blog posts need to be useful, informative, inspiring or entertaining. Blog posts take a lot more research, thought and structuring than SEO articles, and they require a much higher standard of English.
And the beauty of quality blog posts is that, when published regularly, they can result in quite nice Google rankings anyway, without much effort put into SEO at all — largely due to the fact that, if you write something worth reading, other people are likely to link to it and share it with their friends and networks, therefore quite naturally generating the backlinks that are so sought after in the world of SEO.
Untamed Writing is a perfect example of this. I haven’t optimised a single article on my site for search engines (it’s on my to-do list), yet I still frequently show up on the first page for relevant keywords. Although Google is a mysterious devil, I like to think this is because a) I publish regularly, and b) I publish good shit. For ultimate proof of this, Google ‘Karen Marston’. As you’ll see, untamedwriting.com tops karenmarston.com. Karenmarston.com is owned by a New York artist who, although she updates the site from time to time, doesn’t have a blog.
Where the Lines Blur
The lines get really blurry when blog posts are written with specific keywords in mind — for example, if I wanted to rank for ‘the tastiest soup in the world’, I would write a blog post titled ‘How to Make the Tastiest Soup in the World’. But oftentimes these keywords crop up naturally — that is, unintentionally — because when you write a blog designed to engage a specific audience, you write about things relevant to that specific audience, and your ‘keywords’ are really just words you would have used anyway.
Likewise, it’s confusing when ‘SEO articles’ are published as ‘guest posts’ on other blogs that link back to the intended SEO-target site, aka the site someone is trying to get to rank highly in Google. Ugh, that was exhausting just thinking about it. Eventually, SEO articles will become completely obsolete, as Google continues to tweak its algorithms in support of quality, well-written content.
So what it really comes down to is this: There are no set rules in this game — we’re all just making it up as we go along. The definitions above are the ones I go by, and they could be useful for you when trying to decide how to quote a prospective new client. Taking some time to figure out what your client really wants, despite what they’re saying, could save you a lot of ballaches in the future, and will help make sure you don’t end up enraged and out of pocket.