6 myths of SEO copywriting

SEO copywriting, a practice that’s often misunderstood. Some see it as a process-driven function designed to manipulate search engine rankings. I take it to mean creating content that enhances search engine visibility by attracting links, shares & eyeballs.

However you define it, there are some common myths that are widely believed…

Myth #1 – Loads of pages = loads of content = better

As part of the original Google Panda update, Google issued some guidance on creating high-quality websites. They listed a series of questions that they encourage you to ask yourself when assessing a website; one of these questions was…

“Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?”

There was a time when you could continually add keyword focused content to your website and these pages could dominate the long-tail of search by freeloading on some of the authority of the main domain.

Effectively it became large-scale content farming and content became a game of how much rather than how good. Google put a stop to this with the Panda update.

In my experience, actually consolidating less important content into fewer pages that become hubs for topics or even deleting some of the very poor quality content you have on your website will benefit your website’s performance overall.

Myth #2 – You must use the exact keyword each and every time

It’s natural to vary the language used…we as humans do it in everyday life so it makes sense that ‘natural’ pages use a variety of keywords.

1999 called, they want their SEO technique back.

In the past, you could try and get as many keywords onto a page as possible and you’d probably rank well since the search engines decided that more mentions of that keyword meant more relevant to that topic. How open to abuse was that idea?

Anyway, if you over-use a keyword, you run the risk of being accused of keyword stuffing. Google doesn’t like over-optimised pages so using different variations of the keyword will help you no end.

Myth #3 – There’s a magic SEO copywriting formula

Treating it as a purely mechanical process is completely the wrong way to approach producing content for the web. Attempting to achieve a certain keyword density or generally thinking up ways to produce lifeless, dull crap just doesn’t cut it anymore – you’ve got far more chance SEO wise investing in creating captivating content.

There’s nothing wrong with automating the right bits and creating scale within your content creation but don’t be chasing any kind of SEO copywriting formula because it just doesn’t exist.

Myth #4 – Clever headlines are evil

Ever heard of Copyblogger? I thought so.

They are the kings (and queens) of clever headlines but they pay attention to SEO to. Copyblogger if you ask me get the right balance between being clever with their headlines and ensuring at least a topic keyword is included in the title.

Completely vague headlines aren’t good for SEO and sometimes can be bad for user engagement too. But by and large, an interesting and captivating headline will do far more good (SEO + traffic wise) for your business than a keyword rich dull headline.

I look at it like this…

Clever headline > more clicks > more shares > more links > more traffic

Dull headline > no clicks, it’s just some content you produced for the search engines.

Myth #5 – You need to hit a certain wordcount

As humans and particularly business people we try to quantify everything – I’m paying X so I expect Y number of words.

Unless your income stems from TextBroker you just need to write as much as is necessary. Not too short that it misses key aspects and is considered poor quality but not too long that it bores people.

Engaging, in-depth, long blog posts rack up loads of links and social shares over time as they tend to be more of an authority. That being said shorter blog posts engage readers and allow them to skim.

Focus more on the quality of your words rather than the quantity. And mix it up, see what works best for your business.

Myth #6 – They’re only words, why can’t we pay $5 for a blog post?

Reasons for NOT scrimping on writers fees will become obvious as soon as the finished article hits your inbox.

Spending money on low quality content just to ‘bulk out’ your site is likely to be money down the drain – right now it counts for very little SEO wise and in the future it might count for nothing whatsoever.

Why not invest in creating content that naturally attracts links and eyeballs rather than taking what’s deemed to be ‘the easy route’, outsourcing to cheap writers and then having to force the promotion of the article. You could just create something epic and let your audience do the promo for you. Take a look at my guide to linkbait with zero budget.

10 Comments

  1. avatar
    Dimitar Dimitrov August 11, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    Oh My Gosh! Liked, Tweeted, +1d, bookmarked!

    • avatar
      James Agate August 11, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      Thanks Dimitar – much appreciated!

  2. avatar
    Magicdust August 12, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    Excellent points, I hear folk talk about bulking out their websites all the time in the belief that more content equals better rankings or that all their pages should have a 500/700/900 word count.

    More copywriters need to read this!

    • avatar
      James Agate August 12, 2011 at 11:16 am #

      Thanks – let’s hope they do read it then :-)

  3. avatar
    Impersky Dmitry August 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Thanks for info. Much appreciated to Myth 5.
    I know many blogs/sites with seo-word-mix content only.
    It`s terrible for people reading.

    • avatar
      James Agate August 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      Exactly, I will always maintain that we should be writing for people first and search engines second…after all people are the ones actually action (subscribing, purchasing, sharing etc).

  4. avatar
    John August 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    excellent article . The main point is about the keyword used to define the subject . A stand out keyword is the ultimate for a SEO site .

    Internet Marketing Assistant

    John

  5. avatar
    Ben Locker August 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    Great post. I think Panda’s drive for quality content is much needed – and the better it gets, the happier I’ll be. It’s turning out to be an expensive business for those businesses that invested in cheap content – and recovering from a Panda slapdown isn’t a quick business.

    • avatar
      James Agate August 22, 2011 at 10:36 am #

      I think you are spot on Ben, for some it has been an expensive and almost business destroying ordeal – but they can’t say Google (and industry experts) hadn’t been warning them.

      The frustrating thing is though that some website owners have been more naive than manipulative as they were misdirected on what actually constituted quality content. There are many ways to judge quality.

      As time goes by there is only going to be more demand for higher quality content, the whole media business is going full-circle where outlets invest in high-quality content from recognised experts and thought leaders in order to really engage with the audience.

      The way I see it, services like yours/ours are going to be even more in demand in the future.

      Thanks for your comment.

  6. avatar
    Business SEO October 17, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Thanks James, you cover some good points here and they really all point back to the need to write for our readers, not the search engines! The good SEO pros have been saying this for years (at least since 1999!) I’m just skipping over to your linkbait article now, your site is a useful resource.

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