One of my pet peeves is the byzantine workings of search engine optimization (SEO). It can be a frustrating experience that emphasizes stilted style, repetitive phrasing, and pretty uninteresting content.
Here’s an example from my own work: My SEO program enables me to (1) enter focus words, (2) create the meta description, (3) write a SEO title for the meta description, (4) indicate alt-text or captions for photos, etc. Pretty standard tools.
If I use a phrase, which is quite common, instead of a single focus term, it analyzes my use of the phrase in all of the four components. If I utilize the term “writing for SEO” into my website’s own SEO module (Yoast, a popular WordPress SEO tool), it searches for and grades my use of the phrase in not only the SEO title, meta description, alt-text, but also the first paragraph of my viewable content—and where in that content it actually appears. According to Yoast, the focus word should appear in about 2.5% of the copy. This doesn’t sound like much, but when a reader has just seen the phrase in the search results, read a couple of times in the meta description that appears with the search results, and finally reads it in the first sentence of your actual content—well, you get the idea. It’s repetitive and it will lose the attention of your website visitor unless he or she is compelled by the subject.
Remember, SEO can be affected by using your website developer’s mapping programs, inclusion of Yelp or Google reviews, and back-end coding. None of this has anything to do with what actually appears as site content.
One of the ideas I try to impress on my clients is that their marketing materials are too valuable to be written robotically. Yes, the search engines need to see sufficient mentions of well-placed keywords in new and accumulated content. However, existing and prospective clients also need to be well informed and held by your copy—in all venues where it will be read.
Over the course of writing these blogs, I’ve tried to emphasize the importance of utilizing your marketing messages over and over again. If you’re truly satisfied with the boiler-plate copy of your press release, why not use it on your website’s About Us page? If the landing page has effective, compelling content, why not use this in the brochure you need to hand out at your exhibit booth? That is why your go-to marketing content shouldn’t be affected by SEO algorithms.
If you write it well and you write enough of it, the Google searches of the world will eventually find you. And if that doesn’t work well enough to propel you onto the first 2 pages of search engine results, there are always Google Ads.