A copywriter's vent about crap SEO copy!November 3rd, 2008 5 Comments
I read an interesting blog post today: Low value content is destroying your website.
The guts of the post: most pages of most websites are low value. People hardly ever visit them, and if they do stumble upon them, they tend not to return. Only a handful of pages are visited often. Furthermore, “… what I find… is that the search results are full of links to the press archive and other old, out-of date content. Some of the content is misleading and wrong, talking about, for example, a feature for a product that has long since been replaced.”
This post got me thinking (again!) about the implications of ‘low value content’ for search engine optimization (SEO). (No particularly new thoughts; perhaps I just needed to vent!)
As an SEO copywriter, I’m regularly asked to quote on high-volume SEO copy and SEO articles (for article PR / article marketing). By definition, there’s nothing wrong with these requests. High volume SEO copy and SEO articles can be of a very high quality. And they can be very helpful for SEO.
Unfortunately, however, the prospect’s budget usually indicates that the important part of their request is the ‘high-volume’ bit. They don’t really care how good the copy is, so long as it’s keyword rich, and there’s lots of it. They want it purely to boost their rankings.
I know this is slightly different from the low value content discussed in original post, but the end result is the same: it appears in the search results, and it’s read by prospective customers who immediately identify it as crap and infer a great deal about the company that published it.
This is particularly true of long-tail searches, because high volume, low level content tends to be optimized for quite specific keyword phrases. So when someone searches for something really specific, they’re likely to end up at a low level page. And what sort of customers Google very specific keyword phrases? Those who are ready to buy! Now, although there’s never a good time for a reader to think you’re a crap company, I couldn’t think of a worse time than when they’re ready to buy.
The moral to the story: don’t write crap! SEO copy isn’t some invisible force. It’s content that’s frequently read by prospective customers, often when they’re ready to buy. So crap content may – MAY – help your search ranking, but it’s only ever going to harm your conversion rate.
And the sub-moral (here comes the vent…): If you’re intent on having crap written, don’t ask me to quote on it. I never write this sort of stuff. When I write SEO copy and SEO articles – even high volume – I simply can’t write crap. It goes against the grain. I have to write meaningful, helpful copy, and this takes time. (Which means my prices are usually too high for clients who want volume only, anyway.)
Please comment below with your thoughts. I'm not so old a dog that I can't learn a few new tricks!