I Know You’re Trying To Boost SEO, But You Don’t Sound Human

Google keeps seo-robottweaking its algorithms to punish black hat SEO practitioners, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to be stopping so many people from writing some truly terrible content. What’s unclear is whether they’re just completely undeterred by all attempts to stifle them, or if they truly don’t understand the basic fundamentals of search engine optimization.

When it comes to content development and content marketing, there’s no way to ignore SEO. It might not be your area of expertise, but if you’re doing any sort of online publishing, it’s imperative that you learn the basics.

Turkey is great, but keyword stuffing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

A little nod to Thanksgiving here in the States, but it’s also true. This is perhaps the absolute most basic principle of SEO that every online content creator must know: keyword stuffing is never okay.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, keyword stuffing is when a writer repeatedly inserts the terms for which he wishes to rank into the same document. The result is that the content sounds horribly repetitive and unprofessional, unoriginal, and uninspired.

In that same vein, if you catch yourself trying to make keywords fit and it doesn’t sound natural, you’re guilty of keyword stuffing, too. This is roughly the equivalent of pounding a puzzle piece into place even though it’s clearly not a match. You just want to see the end result (which probably isn’t that good if pieces are haphazardly jammed into place).

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There is a reason that there’s relatively low competition when it comes to ranking for some keywords: they’re nearly impossible to fit naturally into your writing. Still, you’ll see people try to make a go of it, writing things like, “when you’re shopping for dentistry Surrey England….”

Normal humans don’t talk like that. Please don’t write like that, either. You want to season your content with keywords, but you don’t want to over-saturate it. Most of all, you want it to sound natural.

Here’s something to consider: yes, search engines are going to be a source of traffic. You hope that they’ll be a pretty major source of traffic, in fact. But don’t forget social media, either. Posts that are shared across social channels and linked on other people’s blogs can also bring in a sizable amount of traffic. Don’t focus so much on search engine optimization that you forget about social optimization.

Which is to say, again, that you should be hyper-focused on creating quality content. Not content that is quick to write. Not content that might please the algorithms but sounds like it was written by robot lords.

Quality content.

That’s what’s being shared on social sites. And as luck would have it, that’s also what’s rising to the top of the SERPs.

5 Hallmarks of Quality Content

  • Well-written, often with a conversational but informative tone
  • Author has a strong command of the language in which he’s writing
  • Keywords are used evenly and are neither densely placed nor jammed into unnatural phrasing
  • Links included lead to reputable sites as opposed to spammy ones
  • The content seeks to promote thoughts and ideas more than a self-serving agenda (keep in mind that a little bit of self-promotion is a-okay, but be open about it. Don’t try to trick people with misleading anchor text or other shady practices)

On guest posts

Guest posting is a great way to build backlinks, so it’s no surprise that so many bloggers are constantly in search of sites where they can offer content. Unfortunately, not all of these bloggers will have truly quality content to offer.

Keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for the content that is published to your site. Be smart about who is permitted to guest post and make sure you check out all guest content before it goes live to ensure that it’s well-written, high quality, and relevant to your site topics. This will help keep you in the search engines’ good graces.

What steps do you take to avoid having your content sound like it was written by a robot? Do you bother with lots of SEO techniques or focus more on writing naturally to inform? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

image credit: squarespace

Discuss This Article

Comments: 2

  • I usually write the content first, without thinking about the “density” of the keywords. Then when I go back and edit I think more about where the keywords should be and how many times they should be mentioned. You are absolutely right, keyword stuffing gives readers indigestion!

    • Thanks for the comment, Linda! I write in very much the same way — I don’t even think about those things the first way through. The writing feels too formulaic that way, and I just can’t feel like “plug-and-play” style writing is going to be repeatedly successful. I think that, like you said, it’s much easier to figure out where they can naturally go when you read over your writing afterwards.

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