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We all smirk when we walk past those bargain book racks.

There’s the familiar cover image of Fabio and his bride. They’re on a farm, or a pirate ship, or surrounded by an ancient castle, but the story remains the same. It’s formulaic, easily churned out, and costs a few bucks. It’s boring and badly written, but it brings in the cash, and the writers know it.

Now imagine that rack is your blog.

Unfortunately, it’s more likely than you think. It’s one thing to write well, but it’s another thing to write well and with a purpose. When that purpose is manipulating the cold, robotic heart of a search engine, it’s easy to fall into the mechanical tropes of bad SEO.

Your search engine optimized (SEO) content should read like a great thinkpiece, something from Vice, The Atlantic, or any other reputable editorial source or as something that offers true value to a reader. It should be informative, pleasant, and unique. And most importantly, the reasons are more than “just because.”

It Increases Reader Engagement

Your readers need you. If they’re Googling about an unfamiliar or challenging topic – mental illness, buying their first home – they’re likely on edge, stressed out and in need of help. If your blog explains things logically, like a real person would, they will listen to you. They’re put off by obviously placed keywords and phrases, stuff that sounds robotic and calculated.

Even if what you’re selling isn’t as dire, customers still want good writing. Take, for instance, this blog post from food subscription box Blue Apron. The author uses a personal anecdote, vivid descriptions, and other devices your high-school English teacher would go gaga over. It’s engaging, and you want to read more. Which leads us to…

It Keeps Readers Coming Back

Take a look at the Facebook pages you “Like”. Remember why you “Liked” them? For whatever reason, they were so good that you said “yes, I want to see this as I scroll through my feed when I can’t sleep.” When you Google something, you want answers. When you “Like” something, you want stimulation.

When readers come back to your blog, it’s because they see the same thing. If you want them to come back, you’ve got to give them more than an answer to a question. You need challenging, unique topics. You need good writing.

The phrase “thought leader” is tossed around like candy these days. Like candy, it’s nauseating, but the logic is sound. Good writing can make you a thought leader for your own little circle of followers.

And Yes, Just Because

The internet is a crowded place. It’s full of low-effort content from the unwashed masses, all vying for our attention. The narrative of technology “dumbing us down” is tired and trite, but there’s still something to be said for quality. What stands out to potential customers – and to search engines focused on unique, relevant content that readers find valuable – is information that has a purpose.

Write better because it sells, write better because it works. But mostly, do it because you can.