Challenging three SEO ‘conventions’

With so much advice and expert comment out there regarding SEO, it can be difficult to know what to prioritise when writing content for a website.

SEO and copywriting - challenging three main conventions

But when you read around the topic online, it is clear that there are some important ‘conventions’ that we should all be following – well at least for now – to make sure a website performs well. They are not necessarily myths, more established methods that we assume work because lots of people say they do!

Let’s unpack three of these and see whether they hold water…

1. Keyword density – make sure your keywords appear X times on the page

It makes complete sense to have target keywords within your page content. Otherwise, search engines may struggle to understand what your page is about, and you may find that the page doesn’t appear in relevant search engine results pages.

But… back in 2011, Google’s Panda algorithm put a stop to SEO practitioners over-using keywords in their content – a practice known as ‘keyword stuffing’. This rumbled those websites where you saw an overuse of keywords purely for page rank purposes. It was a horrible practice from the website visitor’s perspective, as it was clear that many sentences didn’t make much sense when the copywriter crowbarred in keywords a certain amount of times, usually sitting unnaturally in the text.

Remember sentences like this on business websites:

Joe Bloggs Ltd is the leading double glazing company in Leeds, providing double glazing in Leeds for customers across the city as well as double glazing in West Yorkshire.

Who would naturally write like this? And from a reader’s point of view, it makes you feel like you have been duped and are being taken for a bit of a fool!

Best way to approach it is to write naturally! ‘Double glazing’ might be your priority keyword, but don’t be afraid to use phrases that are similarly appropriate, and you would use in conversation – such as ‘energy efficient windows’, ‘draught-free windows and doors’ and ‘thermal insulation for the home’.

I think it is fair to say Google is smart enough to figure out what your site is about if you tell the story of your business properly – and you will probably convert more customers in the process.

The bottom line is that there is no “magic number” for keywords, so you shouldn’t ruin good copy by trying to achieve one.

2. Your page must have at least X number of words

You must have 500 words. Oh no, hang on 350 words. Or is it 700 words?

Feels like you could pick any figure out of thin air and justify it. I would say 500 words is a good starting point but if you can say what you need to say without waffling in 300 words, don’t beat yourself up!

Use as many words as you need to say what you want to say in a way that is easy to read and makes sense to the reader. Remember that Google’s algorithm will read the page like a human so the text needs to be written in a way that conveys what your page is about, and that pages with lots of written information provide value to the user are deemed ‘higher quality’ as a result.

The number of words you need on a page will depends on the industry, the type of search query and on numerous other factors.

For example, for “how to” queries, Google favours clear, concise bullet points. So, 500 words plus in long paragraphs is unlikely to rank for “how to bake a cake”, for example. Especially if the bulk of that text is about the history of cakes, because your copywriter ran out of things to say but had to hit the 500 word minimum.

And then there are search queries where Google favours video content. Here, putting time and effort into creating an explanatory video may be of more use.

Whatever word count you are aiming for, it’s best not to waffle – just get to the point!

3. Your blog should be written around a target keyword

It is a common misconception that every single blog post you publish must have a target keyword – ideally, one with high search volumes and low competition.

However, your blog is not simply a tool for targeting more keywords. It is a signal to users and search engines that your company is active and providing useful content. So, when search engines are crawling your site, lots of posts with industry-relevant information and thought leadership help show that you are an expert in your field.

What’s more, a really unique, well-researched article might earn you some valuable backlinks, in turn helping your Domain Authority and overall ranking potential.

This means that it makes perfect sense for your blog posts to be written with your customers and industry in mind, focussing on topics that interest and inform people. By all means experiment if you wish and create some blog posts with specific targeting, but your priority should be well thought-out, quality posts. And certainly, don’t try to shoehorn in keywords that don’t fit.

SEO is a complex area but writing your website and blogs for the eyes of a human rather than an algorithm is a great starting point. Please contact us if you’d like to talk about this further or have any specific questions.