As an SEO Consultant, I know the importance of On-Site SEO and optimizing your website or blog so that it ranks for the keywords you want to show up for in the SERPs. As the previous Local SEO article emphasized, you probably want to go after local long-tailed keywords so that customers can find you when they are looking for your local products or services. And you want them to find you on Page 1, preferably near or at the top. But according to some SEO gurus, using long-tail keywords in your content is mandatory, and there are certain places where they must be inserted. All well and good, if your only “readers” are Google bots. But what about the human experience?
An e-book that I recently read got me thinking about that very thing. It professed that long-tail keywords must be in the title, headings and content of the article. But are we as webmasters so concerned about what Google thinks of our website and getting high rankings that we will ignore the underlying reason why we created the site to begin with? Websites are created for people, and how people engage with our sites is what Content Marketing is all about. So why do we “optimize” our content to make sure that our marketing keywords are strategically inserted even if it makes no sense or negatively affects the reader experience? Beats the heck out of me. So let’s take a look at two commonly employed SEO tactics that are not necessarily conducive to reader engagement.
SEO Requires Long Tail Keywords in Title, Headings and Content?
OK, according to the author of that nefarious e-book, if a company is trying to rank for the long-tail keyword “Best Local Mazda Auto Prices”, then the title of the page, post or article should be that exact keyword. Really? What a spellbinding title. And to continue using his SEO brilliance, each Heading should also start with the same keyword, although somewhat altered, such as “Best Local Mazda Auto Prices Now” and “Best Local Mazda Auto Prices Here”. You get the drift. And to really make sure to beat Google over the head with the coveted top ranking keyword, it should be placed sporadically throughout the content of the page. To the author’s credit, he did recommend not over doing it, as keyword stuffing is a no-no. Well, at least we agree on something.
Will optimizing a page, blog post or article in this fashion help it to rank for the selected long-tail keyword in Google’s search engine results? Probably, if the off-site SEO supports the keyword and Google doesn’t penalize the site for over optimization. But what about when the reader finds your site through an organic listing and can hardly stand to read your content because it is so darn boring? I mean really, who can sink their teeth into an article titled “Best Local Mazda Auto Prices” without a double espresso and maybe a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew? And don’t forget about every paragraph Heading starting with that same enthralling lead-in. Listen, I understand where the author is coming from, but what is the sense of driving traffic to your site if they bounce due to unengaging, dare I say lame, content? And I am not talking about a Landing Page strictly designed for conversions. We are talking about content here webmasters. Spice it up.
How about this title: “How To Save A Ton Of Money On Your New Mazda” followed by compelling Headings? If I was looking for the best price on a Mazda, that article title would probably make me want to read more. Keywords should be used sparingly in the content of the article as well. Yes, you have to use the keyword you want to rank for, but use it only if it fits within the context of the article. Google will know what your article is about thanks to Latent Semantic Indexing, which identifies related terms that would be expected to appear in an article of that theme. But the main point is that you have to engage your readers with compelling content, not beat them over the head with dull and dreary long-tail keywords.
Spun Content for Off-Site SEO
OK, this is one of my big pet peeves, because I get so much of this garbage as blog post comments. For those of you who are unaware of what spun content is, although you have no doubt seen it, it is content that is auto-generated using software that creates several articles (or forum posts, blog posts, etc.) from one article by making changes using synonyms or similar words or phrases. For example, if an article contains the phrase “get a job”, one spun variation might be “obtain employment”. If enough of these types of changes are made to an article, the variations will pass as unique articles as well. And who is the spinner trying to fool? Why Google and its bots, of course. But even if the content fools Google, the end result is poor to excruciating reader experience.
One use for spun content is to post multiple articles as guest blog posts or on article directories to obtain links back to the poster’s website without having to write a bunch of articles, only one. That is where the supposed Off-Site SEO comes in. However, the end result is typically a bunch of poorly written, often un-grammatically correct and sometime ludicrous pieces of content that unwitting readers are subjected to when expecting quality content. For example, let’s take a look at the following example:
“When designing your website for quality user experience, make sure that your site is easy to navigate so that traffic can easily find the content that it is looking for.”
Pretty straight forward and easy to understand, right? Now compare this manually spun version:
“On occasion of creating one’s website obtaining high standards for usage, guarantee site ease to travel for the purpose that travelers with no hardship locate the material sought after for.”
Look familiar? And I was probably being kind with the spun version, as most I have seen can’t even be deciphered. Again, this is one more example of content marketing using SEO strictly for the purpose of optimization, not quality reader experience. It is very apparent reading this type of drivel that the only purpose of using spun material is to garner those precious back-links and not to provide quality content. If you or your SEO Consultant is engaged in this auto-generated crappy content creation form of Off-Site SEO, well, shame on you.
Quality Reader Experience Is Good SEO
It cannot be emphasized enough that websites are created for humans, not bots or spiders or grasshoppers or Martians (just seeing if you are still paying attention). When we as webmasters become more concerned about driving traffic than what the reader will receive in content for making that trip, well you may want to watch my video “Tips For Reducing Your Bounce Rate”, because you are going to need them. You never want your website to be like one of those seedy hotels that looks fabulous when you see the pictures in the brochure, but looks like a dump when travelers get there. That is not what good SEO is all about. And if you would like help creating quality content for your website, please contact Moore Marketing Systems and our team of professional writers (not me!) will help your company to put its best foot forward.