Rule #12 Give Key Words their Space

Updated: Jan 13

This next tool is a little questionable, especially for blog writers. Roy Peter Clark tells us, in his book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, "Do not repeat a specific word unless you intend a specific effect." This technique is easy enough for the fiction writer to comply with, but bloggers must be diligent and mindful of keywords as key words in their writing. If you care about your work being found and read, then you must focus your efforts on skillfully creating copy that is interesting and rich in keywords and phrases. SEO keywords are your ticket to getting found on Google, so here is some advice on how to write excellent copy that has keywords as key words throughout it.

Why Do I Keep Repeating Keyword as a Key Word?

So, before I delve into Clark's advice on how to write great key words into your content, I want to explain the difference between "key word" and "keyword." There isn't an extreme difference between the two, but if you are writing for the online blogging world, then you should know the difference. Key words are words that take precedence over other words in your writing. They may not be there for searchability, but instead as vital for meaning in your text. Keywords, on the other hand, are those words associated with a search, such as when you perform one on Google. However, as a blog writer, you want to turn key words into keywords for search engine optimization or SEO.

Use Synonyms in your Copy for Keyword Variety

As any good blogger would do, get your list of keywords that you are going to use in your copy. You should also think of synonyms for these words, as Google recognizes word-variations in your text. After you've created your list, be sure to use these keywords throughout your content, but strategically. Don't just repeat the same keywords over and over again--this effect will leave the reader wondering, "what's with all of this repetition without meaning?" The previous sentence is an example of just that.

Too many unimportant repeated words in your text is sloppy writing and useless to Google analytics

So let's consider revising the sentence to read like this: Don't repeat keywords because your reader won't find meaning in simple repetition. Instead, if you say the same thing, do it in a way that establishes a connection between your copy and the reader. For example, Abraham Lincoln was not trying to be redundant when he said, "a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."To this day, this line is incredibly powerful, so word repetition, in this case, is used for emphasis and rhythm. Therefore, who is to say that you can't reproduce keywords throughout your content to influence your readers and infiltrate Google?

This made me laugh! How true!

Use Key Word Repetition to Emphasize Word Territory

"Word territory," a phrase coined by Clark, means keeping words in their right place, and not overusing words to fill up space. Hemingway is crafty when it comes to word territory. Take the following on what Hemingway said about sentences:

Let's analyze the following repeated words: you, true (truest), sentence. With only two sentences to play with, Hemingway managed to gracefully and tactfully repeat himself without being annoying. Do you have the urge to go and write the truest sentence that you know just from reading this?

Get Keywords Without Too Many Key Words

The magic here is this: you can still write fabulous copy without drowning it with the same key words and yet get found on Google. Most importantly, your copy needs to be interesting; otherwise, no one will want to read it. So if you had to choose between slashing key words to keep your reader reading, or kill your copy with keywords for Google to analyze, I would choose the former. Get your message across, don't be afraid to repeat key words for emphasis, and most importantly, keep your reader engaged by establishing your voice, tone, and the context of your content.

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Clark, R. P. (2008). Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Columbus, GA: Little, Brown.


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