SEO Writing: Are You Making this Dangerous Mistake?
Once upon a time, there was a sad and lonely website.
Its owners were recognized experts in their fields. They had written books. They blogged. They spoke all over the world.
From a marketing standpoint, they were doing everything right.
Yet, their site wasn’t positioning for any important keyphrases. None. Zip.
This made the site owners quite unhappy, so they found a consultant to help.
The consultant noticed quite a few “old school” SEO errors:
– There were very few keyphrases on the page
– There were no keyphrase-rich headlines (H1)
– The Titles were keyphrase-free and most of the pages didn’t have meta descriptions.
Once these errors were fixed, the site started positioning within three days. Rankings are still building for the super competitive phrases, but even those are coming along nicely.
Conducting some basic optimization on the site unlocked its potential.
I tell this story because there are (still) dissenters who believe that you can just “write naturally” and Google will “get” what your site is about. Meaning – you can skip all the foundational SEO steps and still do well.
That’s a pretty dangerous mistake.
In fact, the site owners had “written their site naturally.” You would think that an internationally-known consultant could write high positioning content just because.
But that wasn’t the case.
I bring this up after reading the latest SearchMetrics 2014 rankings factors report (you can read a great summary of the report here.)
The takeaways? Quality content matters. Keyphrases in the Titles, H1, description and body copy matters.
You know. The stuff that smart SEO writers have been discussing since the beginning of SEO time.
If my story is hitting home with you (that is, you know your site copy wasn’t written with SEO in mind,) know that you can fix your situation. It will take some time. And it will take some budget. But there are things you can do. For instance:
– You can add keyphrases to old blog posts to help snag better search positions.
– You can rewrite pages to make them more reader-centered (and yes, so you can add keyphrases too!). This is an especially smart tactic if you can’t add keyphrases to your existing content without it sounding unnatural (which is often the case with short content.)
– You can tweak your Titles so they are unique to the page and better for Google – and more importantly, better for your readers.
– You can improve upon your meta descriptions. Especially if your descriptions are the same on every page.
So here’s a reality check:
“Writing naturally” without at least an inkling of solid SEO writing knowledge can hurt you. It’s cool if you want to write your own content. Just know that someone will need to add some SEO sizzle when you’re done.
If your in-house writers aren’t trained in SEO writing, you are doing your site (and your revenues) a disservice. Without some SEO knowledge, the more your writers write, the more that will need to be fixed later.
If you are a freelance writer selling “web writing services” – and you aren’t versed in SEO writing – you are doing yourself (and your clients) a HUGE disservice. Not to mention, you’re missing out on a nice profit center.
Sure, hearing “you need to go back to the basics” isn’t sexy.
But what is sexy is more traffic. Higher sales. A more qualified readership.
And your site will no longer feel sad and lonely.
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Photo credit: © Scott Griessel | Dreamstime.com
Loved your post as usual. It definitely validates that some of what I thought was important in terms of seo is still important. I would however be interested in your thoughts on seo for home pages that are more like landing pages. They tend to have large text and images and you have to scroll down the page to see everything. It’s very different than the traditional page with paragraphs of text. I hope that made sense. Thanks again!
Hi, @Susan – I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
The website style you’re referring to seems to be the popular design right now. :) I like it when it’s done right. The different sections visually break up the text and encourage folks to keep scrolling.
What do you think of the scrolling design?
As for scrolling design, (I didn’t realize it had a name.) I’m not sure what I think yet. I’m more of a scanner when I visit a webpage and I can’t do that with this style. I have clients that are gravitating to that for sales and landing pages though. I’ve even tried it on one of my own sites but I don’t think I want to change my primary domain to this style. I haven’t tried to tackle seo on this type of design yet either and really not sure if it would be any different.
Useful post, It’s best to learn from other’s mistakes than to feel the urge to commit one by oneself & then think of learning. I think we’ve all made some of these mistakes to some degree or another. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.