Unstuff Your Website Without Compromising Ranking
SEO keyword stuffing happens. A lot. I should know because SEO copywriting is my forte. I’ve been doing it for more than 25 years.
Every good SEO strategy requires the right combination of keywords to get your digital assets found online. Do you know what doesn’t work? Telling an SEO copywriter to use as many industry-relevant keywords as they can squeeze into every piece of copy written for your brand. It doesn’t help that many SEO keyword tools still push this narrative, forcing you to create copy that can sometimes be downright unreadable in the pursuit of squeezing the predetermined number of SEO keywords in.
I’m not going to tell you that there wasn’t a time when keyword density mattered. Once upon a time, the king of all search engines – that would be Google, by the way – decided that if you wanted it to direct searchers to your website, you had to use the same three keywords in every sentence. OK, well maybe not every sentence, but close to it. If you wanted to rank, you had to play the game.
There’s only so many times you can use the longtail keyword “car repairs Pittsburgh” before it becomes repetitive and boring. Yet, if your SEO copywriter followed Google’s old requirements, you likely ended up with gibberish that didn’t add much value to your target audience. Thankfully, Google has seen the error of its ways and no longer rewards websites that overuse keywords. Now, they value quality over quantity.
The Write Reflection® already was ahead of the game on quality vs. quantity. As a trained journalist, I’ve always been keenly aware of the value of storytelling in any copy. My clients have been getting well-crafted copy that adds value to their target audience since I’ve been in business.
Why do we need SEO keywords, anyway?
SEO keywords refer to the single words and phrases people use when searching for something online. Maybe they’re looking for a new dining room table or the latest trends in fashion eyeglasses. They type in what they want to know, and Google spits out some possible places to find the information they seek.
Single words or complex phrases can be used for SEO purposes depending on your industry. For instance, if you repair automobiles, you might want to include “mechanic,” “automobile repair near me” or “how do I find a mechanic to fix my car” strategically throughout your digital copy.
SEO keywords still are a necessary component of any digital content. I’d be lying if I tried to convince you otherwise. The key is to balance SEO keywords with informative copy that converts. SEO keywords might help users find your content, but they won’t help you build a target audience or transform casual visitors into brand loyalists. For that, you need to understand user intent.
What is user intent?
User intent trumps SEO keyword stuffing every time. Why? Because (you guessed it), Google says so. I’m not shy about disagreeing with Google – which you know if you’ve read my blog or followed me on social media). However, this is one time we’re in agreement.
Now that I’ve given you my trademark sarcastic quip, let me explain the real reason user intent matters. SEO obsesses over numbers and metrics. User intent focuses on the reasons behind why someone is searching for a particular product, service, or topic. After all, you can’t sell your brand if you don’t understand why someone might need it.
There are three types of user intent you must consider: informational, navigational, and transactional.
Informational User Intent
Informational searches happen when someone seeks a specific piece of data. For instance, a student researching a paper on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would type in a combination of keywords describing their need. Google would direct them to academic studies and other sources of information to answer their search query.
Navigational User Intent
Any time you’ve used Google Maps or another GPS, you’ve conducted a navigational search based on some location you needed to find. Maybe you’re visiting a new city during a job interview and have an urge to satisfy a caffeine craving. If you asked Google Maps to plot out coffee shops near you it would generate a list based on your location.
Transactional User Intent
Transactional searches happen when someone is looking for a specific product or service. Let’s say you need to buy a new swimsuit for vacation. You’d likely type “women’s swimsuits” into Google’s search bar and wait to get a list of all the brick-and-mortar and online retailers that sell swimsuits.
Does ignoring user intent hurt your ranking?
Some SEO experts would argue that it doesn’t, but I’d wholeheartedly disagree with them. Failing to consider user intent when crafting digital copy can weaken your SEO copywriting strategy. You’ll end up with catchall content that speaks to everyone and no one at the same time. Visitors to your webpages might end up confused.
I frequently tell my clients that without user intent, I can’t structure a landing page experience that serves their target audience. Keywords are great, but you must understand why someone is typing in a specific keyword if you have any hope of creating content that speaks to them once they arrive on your page. Otherwise, it’s just another missed opportunity.
Be realistic about SEO keyword stuffing
Let me be very direct. You can’t fool Google’s algorithms. They’re so sophisticated they easily can spot SEO keyword stuffing junk vs quality content at a quick glance. That’s why at The Write Reflection® our motto is, “People first. SEO second.” We specialize in writing content for people, not search engines.
Your digital content should never compromise on readability in favor of SEO keywords. It’s a recipe for failure every time.
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for 25 years.