Is SEO Content Important?
Since the dawn of search engines nothing has been more important than textual content on a page to identify what the page is about and what story it is telling. Then with the development of search engines come the algorithmic mechanisms which are ever evolving to index and rank those pages.
SEO content best practices have evolved over the years with the emphasis on creating absolutely fantastic and unique user centric content. Stuff that the visitor finds answers all their questions and keeps them engaged. Quite rightly so. If the content is not for the sole purpose of educating, enthralling or engaging the visitor, then what is the point?
This should be at the heart of any SEO content strategy. Writing web content for SEO purposes alone is a big mistake. An even bigger mistake is not fully understanding SEO and writing content based around outdated practice or incorrect facts.
There are multiple ways where SEO content writing can go wrong. Let’s take a look…
No Time to Check – Quality Does Count
It’s no good pumping out content, good or average, without getting spelling and grammar right. The Panda algorithm from Google picks this up, and Bing made it clear they are focusing on this quality factor back in February 2014. Duane Forrester, a Senior Product Manager neatly sums it up like this.
“If you struggle to get past typos, why would an engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher? Like it or not, we’re judged by the quality of the results we show. So we are constantly watching the quality of the content we see.”
Writing good content for SEO is underpinned by ensuring the basics are in place. The content needs to be readable and accurate.
Always run content through Word – with spell check switched on, and always proofread. Get a colleague or a friend to proofread. Quite often what we write makes sense to us, but when someone else reads it there may be key points that are confusing; or those little errors stand out on the page. I’ve been on many websites, considered a purchase and then see great big typo. My initial impression changes and I have a niggle in my mind that if the spelling is wrong, is that an indication of the quality of service. Maybe, maybe not.
Here is a selection of silly mistakes –
Let’s say you make swimming caps and you need a piece of content based around ‘swimming caps’. You’ve heard that the title tag must contain ‘swimming cap’, as must the meta description. But now come to think of it you’re not getting much traffic for ‘swimming accessories’, so it seems to be a good idea to throw that keyword in too. It’s easy to imagine that content writing for seo purposes is all about repeating the main keyword as much as possible.
All the content you write focusses on these keywords and you end up with an article that waffles relentlessly. Something like –
“…the great thing about swimming accessories like swimming caps is that unlike other swimming accessories, swimming caps keep your hair dry. There are many types of swimming cap to choose from within our swimming cap section found in swimming accessories…”
Yawn! Boring keyword stuffed drivel. This kind of stuff will not only drive visitors away but give Google and Bing something to think about. Writing seo optimized content is all about a subject and writing in depth about it, in a way that your audience will enjoy reading it. When written naturally the content will start to contain related in context keywords that Google will understand, which will therefore help rank the main keyword.
Farm out Content to the Cheapest Bidder
A ten minute hunt around the Internet will uncover a host of seo content writing services providing cheap copy writing – a one stop seo content machine. Some have their place and some are not so good. Having said that if you are lucky you can find some cheaper sources of content writing that do provide quality. In truth you generally get what you pay for.
There are three main issues when you have offshore copywriters writing SEO friendly content.
- Do they understand your business, your customer, the product. Do they understand how to engage.
- If you are UK based are they writing for the UK market? Would you get ‘color’ instead of ‘colour’, ‘pants’ instead of ‘trousers!
- Can they effectively write 1000 words on a subject which is new to them? Not just filling space with words.
A single well thought out extensive page outsourced to a targeted seo content writer with a proven background is likely to result in a hugely valuable piece of content that people will want to read and share. This option will be more expensive but really great SEO content writers, who primarily write for the audience, are a much rarer breed.
If you want content just for the sake of content, dozens of uninspiring pages of 400ish words, then yes you have a massive choice of $8 a piece authors to choose from. However, you’ll end up with a website which is low quality and difficult to rank.
We just mentioned the dreaded 400 word count. You read somewhere that a page should contain at least 400 words, at which point Google will like this and the page will rank and compete with your main competitors. You develop a strategy with your website content ideas and determine that for ease of effort and cost each page should be limited to 400-450 words.
The truth of the matter is that less than 400 words is a bit sparse and not much is being said. Drop the volume further and Google may see this as thin content and at best not rank the page well.
The key is balance throughout the site. There should be pages that naturally inflate to 1000 words or more, with rarer pages with 200 words (for example, a post detailing a change in opening hours doesn’t require an epic piece of content).
Don’t Worry About Originality
We’ve covered that writing SEO content, at least good content, isn’t about lots of short articles stuffed with keywords. The mistake many businesses make when looking to beef up their volume of content is to look at their main keyword and write as many posts as possible around that main keyword; hoping that something will stick somewhere and the diversity of posts will raise traffic volumes. When it comes to SEO fresh content it is important to recognise that unique content is key.
The downfall is when you line up the content and realise that all the visitor sees along with Google is thinly veiled duplicate content, keyword cannibalising itself. A series of pages just worded slightly differently. Probably a handful of those posts deserve to be combined into a highly valuable post.
This has turned out to be all about key points on what not to do. I’m not a copywriter and wouldn’t position myself as any kind of expert in physically crafting great visitor and SEO content. But I do know what works and what doesn’t.
So back to the title of this article – if you want to stick to the problem areas I’ve pointed out then stop the SEO content writing, it’s not going to satisfy your audience or Google. Although with a bit of time and effort it can be fixed!