Search engine optimization? Isn’t that dead? Nope! If you thought it was, then you were misinformed. SEO isn’t dead or dying, it’s simply evolving, according to our SEO predictions for 2014. And it’s still important to know how to optimize without overdoing it.
When is the last time you overdid something? Be honest! We all overdo things from time to time because we get wicked excited or have a habit of overthinking and second guessing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of because it amounts to human nature. But when it comes to something as important to your business as SEO-optimized web content, how do you make sure you don’t overdo it? Is there anything wrong with overdoing it? That’s exactly what we’re going to discuss.
There’s a golden rule in every industry, isn’t there? In a lot of industries, the golden rule boils down the age old saying, “The customer is always right.” When it comes to the content industry, I’ve heard a slight various to this adage: “The audience rules.”
Fact: you can create a beautiful website packed full of content, but it’ll be dead on arrival if the audience doesn’t like it.
Truth: the audience really does rule the content kingdom.
According to KISSmetrics, the golden rule of on-site optimization is this:
When using any…SEO elements [don’t] overdo it.
The thing about golden rules is that they really should not be broken. And when it comes to search engine optimization, you DON’T want to break the golden rule. So, to answer one of the questions we posed in the beginning of this post, YES there absolutely is something wrong with overdoing SEO. Don’t believe us? Let’s talk consequences…
…why you don’t want to overdo SEO. Let’s be brutally honest, shall we? Most of us small to medium sized business owners broke the rules to get where we are today. Thinking outside of the box and stretching AND breaking the rules are part of entrepreneurship. But along the way we learned that certain rules cannot be stretched or broken without hurtful consequences. Writing over optimized web content is one of them.
Back in March of 2012, Search Engine Roundtable published an article entitled, Cutts: Google to Target Overly SEO’ed Sites within Weeks. You should definitely check out the audio recording from Cutts in the article. In case you’re unfamiliar with the name, Matt Cutts is the person to know when it comes to SEO. He started out with Google in 2000 as a software engineer, and today he’s the head of Google’s Webspam team. Breaking SEO news on the dos and don’ts of search engine optimization—especially the don’ts—come from him. When Cutts speaks up, you listen.
Back in 2012, Cutts made it clear that websites overdoing SEO were going to get unwanted attention: they would be penalized by Google. The idea was to level the playing field and promote a right way of doing SEO-optimized web content.
As you can imagine, the change in policy caused a sizeable stir. Fast forward to today, 2014, and the policy still stands. If you overdo SEO elements on your website, it won’t help you; it will hurt you. Your search rankings will drop, and you’ll end up in the one place you don’t want to be: Google’s penalty box.
So, how do you do optimized web content without over optimizing? How do you cross your T’s, dot your I’s, and come out on Google’s good side? The working tactics just might surprise you.
Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it comes down to using a little common sense and knowing where to look if you have questions. A lot of well researched and credible resources on SEO are available online; just to name a few: Search Engine Land, HubSpot, The Content Marketing Institute and KISSmetrics. But we’re here to get you started with some simple, common sense tips to keep you from overdoing web content optimization:
Content that your audience will label as “darn good” and “great” is known as QUALITY in the content marketing world. It’s made up of the kind of copy that satisfies your audience’s unending thirst for good storytelling, relevant information and educational material. In fact, quality content is all about meeting the needs of your readership while also meeting the needs of a new audience who are soon to become a regular addition to your readership.
Just how can you spot darn good content? Whether you’re writing it yourself or having it written by a copywriter, here are the elements you want to include:
Alright, we talked about keyword densities and keyword use. But we haven’t said much about word counts. Copywriters are asked about word counts repeatedly, and the truth is that there’s no set rule for determining word counts. Does your topic need 400 to 600 words, or is it better covered in 500 to 1,000 words? The answer entirely depends on what you want to cover. How large is the scope? What information do you absolutely have to have? You might think you can cover your topic in 600 words, but once the writing process is underway, you’ll find out the topic will flow much more naturally if you allow the writer up to 1,000 words.
A natural flow is all-important. You can spot it by looking for the following:
Achieving balance and not overdoing search engine optimization comes down to good old fashioned common sense. If your optimized web content doesn’t read well, then change it. If keywords sound robotic and overused, take them out or restructure them so that they read naturally. If your content feels too long or too short based on the topic, allow it to breathe by either tightening it up or making it longer.
The audience will be your ultimate decision maker. If you focus on creating quality web content that people want to read, comment on and share, chances are you’re doing it right and search engine optimization will fall into place on its own. If you feel like you have to strain to get SEO into the mix, chances are you’re doing it wrong. SEO is becoming a hidden element, something your readership should barely if ever notice. Once you achieve this, you’ll be in the green.
In the meantime, if you’re searching for more informative information about how to best attack SEO and write quality SEO-optimized web content in 2014, check out our article on Business2Community. There we discuss 20 fundamentals of great SEO for 2014.
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