5 SEO writing myths that cost you money
SEO writing doesn’t work. Google keeps changing their algorithm. I guess I’ll go eat worms..
(No, not really – although I couldn’t resist throwing in that childhood ditty.)
Although you may be laughing at the “eat worms” part, it’s true that many people are seriously confused about SEO writing. Instead of embracing it and seeing its potential, they pretend it’s “not important.”
The result? Potential profits fly out the window.
Here are the most common SEO writing myths I (still) hear:
Why should I hire an SEO writer? Google “knows” what my site is about.
Google is not a person – nor is it a mind reader (yet.) Just because it’s clear to you that you offer industrial tubing doesn’t mean that Google “gets” that. Especially if the words “industrial tubing” don’t appear on your site. I’ve seen Google rankings go from so-so to spectacular after an SEO writer rewrote the existing content (and conversions went up, too.) Why wouldn’t you want that success for your own site?
I don’t need to research keyphrases. I’m sure I’ll use the “right” words when I write the content.
Sadly, I hear this mostly from freelance copywriters who believe that “SEO writing is a myth” ::sigh:: Yes, you’ll probably naturally use some of the keyphrases while you’re writing the content. But the keyword there is “some.” Keyphrase research gives you amazing insight on how people search for your product or service. Why ignore the data when it’s right there – and it’s free?
SEO writing is too technical. I can’t learn it.
Yes, you can. Really. Sure, the SEO lingo may be overwhelming at first. But I’ve literally seen thousands of people go from, “I can’t do this,” to “Hey, this isn’t as bad as I thought.” Is there a learning curve? Yes. Can you learn it (even if you come from a print copywriting background, or you’re a stressed-out business owner?) You bet!
People won’t call me if I include “too much” information on my site.
If you think being “mysterious” will increase your conversion rates, think again. If you want people to buy from you – or contact you for more information – the more content, the better. Plus, the more content you add, the more opportunities you have to position for even more keyphrases (which means getting found in Google more often!) Never be afraid of adding good content that answers your target audiences’ questions.
Why bother? Google is going to change the SEO writing rules anyway.
It’s true that Google has tightened up their SEO content requirements. The spammy copy that worked once upon a time is no longer effective (yippee!). However, Google is still rewarding well-written, quality content. Have there been some changes to how I approach an SEO copywriting client and write their content? Sure. Have the basic fundamentals stayed in place for over 15 years. You bet. Why let learned helplessness get in the way of great Google rankings?
Did you notice that I didn’t include keyword density on this list? That’s because – after years of talking about it – I’m sure that people know it’s a myth. Right? Right?
What other SEO writing myths would you add to this list?
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Back in my proofreading days, I once copy-edited the content for a revamped website selling supply chain management systems.
There were pages upon pages of meaningless sales puffery. Yet absolutely nowhere did it mention the phrase ‘supply chain management system’.
Not only was this screwing up the website’s SEO. Those few people that would’ve visited the site wouldn’t have had the faintest idea what the company was selling.
@Kevin – oh no! That sounds horrible! It sounds like those bad pharmaceutical ads where they don’t tell you what the pill is for – they just tell you to “Ask your doctor about X.”
I can only imagine how panful the content was to read (and edit, too!)….
Hi Heather, I just got my first ecommerce site up and running. My problem…those pesky keywords. I know how to research them, but the problem is I cannot find keyword phrases with low competition. I have however, found some great individual words with low competition that I am using on my site. It is a store for exotic dancers and entertainers and I sell sexy lingerie, dancewear, footwear, and accessories. Okay, so the great words are Exotic Dancers, entertainers, exotic, romantic, and single words like this. But try to find a phrase including these words and the competition is really high. I know I have a lot of competition but geez! I have managed to use these words very naturally in my content and descriptions of products, but my question is…How important is keyword phrases compared to single keywords? Will single keywords still pull in traffic?
@Dawn – Congrats on launching your site! :)
It sounds like you’re working in a pretty competitive environment. Keyphrases are still going to be your best bet – but your market positioning is going to be even more important. Think about how to differentiate your site from others online. Are there additional ways to add value-added content? What other ways can you drive traffic to your site? How can you successfully use social?
The more you make your site stand out (and be THE go-to place,) the more you’ll build your brand online. Plus, the more quality content you add, the more opportunities you have to get good Google rankings.
Looking at your ‘Too Much Information’ point because I think there is validity in restricting what gets posted.
My view is that you need to provide 50-75% of the answer as public information that brings people to your site.
Then they have to call, email, signup or whatever. You hook them with a teaser then get them a step further along to becoming a paying customer by giving a little more
@Ian – good point. Although I have seen companies run EXTREMELY successful campaigns by giving all of their information away (which is a tad counterintuitive – but it works for them.) I suppose it would depend on the industry and what the company is selling/offering…
Thanks for your comment!
Great post as always, Heather. Here’s another little myth-ola: SEO writing and effective sales copy are two different things.
Well, let’s just say that’s often the case, and that making it so is sad/crap approach to online writing [sad if borne out of ignorance, crap for those who are still trying to “game the system”].
That’s one of the things I love about your work – shining a beacon on RELEVANT, high quality, SEO-friendly writing that actually converts. [NB – For other readers, this was an unsolicited bit hat tip to one of my favourite fellow writer-marketers. Hope the point that preceded it was also useful!]
@Matthew – YES, that’s another good one (or would it be “bad one?) :) You can certainly have the best of both worlds – great SEO copy that converts like crazy. That’s one heckuva cool win/win!
Thanks for your comment!
Hi Heather: Among the myths or distortions about SEO, I’d add these:
1) “My firm can get you the No. 1 spot on Google page ranking in no time.” There’s a lot of overpromising in SEO done by the cheesy SEO firms that claim to have the secret to success. Some of them still play to the misimpression that consumers have regarding myth 2:
2) “We know the hidden, secret formula for getting Google to rank you highly.” They may describe it as some sort of backend technical solution, but they’re playing to the idea of meta keywords being critical, circa, what 1997?
3) “Social media doesn’t matter for SEO purposes, just your website.” As if Google launched Google+ without any search engine considerations in mind.
4) “Just get them to your site — that’s all it takes to drive up sales.” There’s still a lot of focus on the acquisition element while conversion is an afterthought.
::Sigh:: The myth of “we know Google’s secret formula” has been around since the beginning of Google time. Long enough that I forget that it’s still around (or would that be denial?.) :) Thanks for bringing it back up. I still hear of firms using that scammy sales approach.
I loved your other myths, too – thank you!
There’s nothing more frustrating than when a client wants to just skip over the keyword research process, thinking that it’s a waste of time. Sure, you may have an idea of what keywords to target but you’ll never know for sure until you see the keyword data. Skipping over keyword research means lots of missed opportunities, specifically with great long tail keywords.
Exactly, @Nick. It’s hard to imagine why a client would want to sabotage their SEO success like that…but it sure does happen. It’s sad when it does. :(