At this point, every business owner who has a website knows organic search engine traffic is important for success. Understanding how to optimize a site for search engines is a different matter, and many turn to SEO specialists to position their sites as high as possible on Google, Bing and Yahoo results pages. The boom in e-commerce and mobile connectivity has made SEO more meaningful than ever and created a boom in the industry, but as with any rapid-growth sector, not everyone in the SEO business is equally qualified. These phrases are warning signs for SEO content developers who may not give you the best deal.
“We guarantee #1 rankings on Google.”
A blanket guarantee of the most coveted spot on the search engine that accounts for more than 80 percent of searches is the very definition of over-promising. For one thing, it’s vague; taking the top spot for “yoga” is very different from achieving that ranking with “hot yoga class in Long Island.” If you’re first to market with a service and localize your content, you may well land the top spot for your chosen keywords, but a general guarantee of high placement is one no SEO company can deliver every time. Moreover, because Google changes its ranking algorithms hundreds of times a year, even a page that hits number one now could slide into second or third place next week.
Instead, look for SEO content providers who promise specifics: “We guarantee page-one ranking” and “we optimize your site for local traffic” are reasonable statements that a quality SEO content creator can back up with real results.
“We’ll just use the content from that other page.”
Duplicate content is potentially disastrous for your site. When you type a search string into Google, you don’t want to see a hundred copies of the same article pop up; neither does anyone else. To keep that from happening, Google prioritizes the first-published version of the piece and, depending on the HTML tags on the subsequent pieces, either relegates the others to search engine oblivion or gives all their link “juice” to the primary page. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, a landing page, a feature article or a product description: If you’ve used it elsewhere, you can’t just stamp out more copies and hope to win search engines’ approval.
That doesn’t mean you can never revisit existing content. Your SEO content team just has to repurpose it intelligently, using the original concept as a launching pad for new content. A white paper on marketing automation might lead to half a dozen blog posts exploring what automation is, what it can do for small businesses, how it fits with a CRM system and other related ideas. Smart content creation makes the most of research but never repeats itself exactly.
“Our guy can write it all for $50.”
You might luck into a brilliant young copywriter who needs to earn textbook money and will do an amazing job of filling your site with content for a tiny fee. You also might get rich by finding a winning lottery ticket someone accidentally dropped, but it isn’t a sound retirement plan. Don’t count on getting stellar content for a pittance. If you hear a phenomenally low quote from your SEO specialist, it’s a fair bet the work’s being sent overseas and may not look like English when it gets published on your site.
Professional writers who speak English as a native language can’t afford to sell their work for a penny or two a word. If you want polished, compelling writing, it will cost you more, but you’ll get vastly better results. You’ll also have an easier time communicating with your content creators if they share a language with you, ensuring that you get precisely what you want.
“We aim for at least 10 percent keyword density.”
Any purported SEO expert who still subscribes to the more-is-better philosophy of keyword density is at least a decade behind the times. All the major search engines devalue keyword-stuffed, thin content as spam. High keyword densities look unnatural to human readers too and can contribute to high bounce rates, a surefire signal to Google that your page isn’t giving visitors what they want.
In natural writing, an exact keyword might appear two or three times per hundred words if you’re writing about a specific subject. Other words will be synonyms; for example, if you were reading a style article on choosing the right leather sofa, you’d encounter “seating,” “couch,” “loveseat” and other related terms. Good website content for SEO incorporates those terms organically instead of trying to force them into every available space in a blog post or article.
“We like to play it by ear.”
Content creation is an art; SEO is a science, and without a solid plan, your SEO content developer isn’t giving you full value. Backlink strategies, analytics, site architecture and appropriate HTML tags all play important roles in SEO.
Look for a site with a plan and SEO specialists who can explain that plan to you. A customized SEO strategy is invariably better than a one-size-fits-all approach, and industry experience is a plus.
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