Keywords - No longer packed in like sardines

Not so long ago, website copywriters were obsessed with keywords, sticking in as many as they could into website content. Reading copy online became a confused mix of enjoying an article and then having to skip through apparently randomly mentions of ‘hairdressers in Cardiff’ and ‘accountants in Milton Keynes’. 

Website visitors are, in general, short of time and a little more discerning than they used to be. They don’t want to read endless keywords. If they are going to give up ten minutes to read a blog, they’d at least like it to be interesting and engaging. 

Google has recognised this and is increasingly ‘rewarding’ websites for sharing good quality content and including copy which appears to back up what the website says that business does. It will recognise if an article has been published just to mention keywords or it’s what is generally now described as ‘thin content’, pulled together just to get something up on the website.

So, what does Google see as quality content? In the main, it is content which is well-written and engaging; it is useful, in that it informs or educates; and it lives up to the link, headline or title (or however the reader has been led to find the article). If you follow these guidelines, then Google will rank your website higher. 

That said, in addition to the actual quality, Google also looks for regular fresh content – so don’t write some good blogs and assume your work is done; you have to keep going. The search engine also likes it if people share your content on social media, linking back to your site – so if you post a new blog, always share it to your social media channels, so it’s seen by others who may also share it. 

One reason that Google actively searches for quality content is purely selfish… it is the most popular search engine and it wants to remain in that number one position. So, pointing its users to badly written content and copy which doesn’t live up to expectations, could potentially see people moving across to another search engine. Google wants to find its users the best results and its team works continuously in the background to create algorithms to discover the best content on the web. 

In addition to poor copy which doesn’t live up to expectations, Google has some other pet hates. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t like to see copy which is ‘lifted’ or simply copied from other sites. The search engine doesn’t like ‘thin content’ which has perhaps simply been repeated across the website or ‘doorway’ pages which are padded out with keywords and don’t serve a practical purpose. 

When you are creating content for your website, don’t get too hung up on SEO during the writing process. Instead, put your marketing head on and focus on your customers and write for them, offering them solutions and content which is both engaging and informative. 

Be seen as an expert in your marketplace – don’t necessarily overload readers with technical blurb but pitch it at a sensible level. If it’s appropriate, include some links to reputable articles and news pieces which back up your writing. 

If visitors have clicked on a particular page – then provide content on there which relates to their search. Even if your website gets lots of visitors, Google notices if people don’t stay for long. If there’s a high bounce rate, your site will be penalised. 

Also don’t just focus on words, but try to include video and images too, as Google likes a mixture of content and, if the copy gets shared, social media platforms like that too.

Finally, minimalist seems to be the way ahead. While creating lots of different pages might look industrious, it can confuse Google, even if it’s not strictly duplicate content.  So, spring clean your website and, if you can, consolidate some pages, to avoid being accused of sharing duplicate content. Creating a ‘mega page’ which is a single resource on a topic will be less confusing for visitors and suggest to Google that this is the preferred page. 

Finally, while most posts and blogs tend to be around 500 words, there is evidence that lengthy posts and pages score higher. Write more and Google will assume it’s quality content.

Article Details

Ian Jepp
05 July 2018