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Forget the Keywords

June 24th, 2013 by

keywordSearch engine optimization used to be all about keywords. How many keywords you chose and how many times you used them were all that many marketers cared about. SEO writers had the monumentally boring job of counting out keywords and calculating the keyword density in order to keep it high enough to satisfy clients. How well the content actually read was often no consideration at all. And in many ways, this technique worked. Mixing up a pile of junk content could be rewarding if it came with enough keywords thrown into the recipe.

However, the search engines of years ago don’t use the same criteria that they use today to rank pages. Matt Cutts, part of Google’s Search Quality team, told webmasters not to get hung up on keyword density. Using the word a time or two in a piece of content lets search engines know what topic you’re writing about, but after that it’s all just white noise. If you’ve used your chosen word or phase a time or two, forget about it and concentrate on other aspects of your content.

Forgetting Keywords

What does it mean to forget keywords? It doesn’t mean to avoid using them. It doesn’t mean to be afraid of them. It doesn’t mean that you have to tell keywords that you died and then entered the Witness Protection Program or anything. All it means is that the content you write shouldn’t be all about promoting the keywords. It should be in-depth, complex content that mentions the topic a couple of times naturally.

In other words, content that is written for search engine spiders instead of for readers no longer ranks well. The more sophisticated algorithm used by Google and other search engines now looks at the complexity of the content and how well it covers the topics instead of how many times it mentions it. To fit into the way that today’s search engines work, make it a habit to use your keyword instead of using a slang word to describe it, but don’t go any further than that to work it into your content.

As a matter of fact, this article was written for one specific keyword. Can you tell what it is? No? Good. If you write something with an obvious, glaring word that comes up again and again in an unnatural manner, scrap the page and start again.

Read It

If you want to know how successful a page of content will be, read it, don’t just look for keywords or check the word count. Today, it’s really all about how well it reads. Earning backlinks with your well-written copy depends on how well readers like what you published. If you start reading it and would rather be kidnapped by honey badgers than finish it, you don’t have content that will attract those links. Every piece of content should be written for its readers instead of adhering to old-fashioned numbers that no longer mean anything when it comes to rankings.

Lizz S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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