More Doesn’t Equal Better

Written: 20-Sep-2012 | | Filed under: Content & Copy

Just came across a great article (and a bit of a rant) by Heather Lloyd-Martin: Your B2B site doesn’t need more freakin’ words.

Heather’s got some great points to make in her rant — and while she was targeting B2B websites and SEOs, the same basic arguments apply in the B2C world as well.

Specifically, she’s targeting the mindset that the primary reason to create content for a website is to please the search engines. That you have to create tons of new articles all the time. That in order to please the search engines, you have to have articles of a certain length. And that those articles must have a certain “keyword density” to be effective.

Spiders or People?

Should you create content to please the search engines? Only if that content also pleases your human visitors. Until search engine spiders start carrying credit cards and buying stuff, your primary target audience should be humans… you know, those visitors who can actually contribute directly to your bottom line. And to that end, your content needs to be well-written and persuasive. Remember those calls to action, folks!

Search engine or human visitor? It’s entirely possible to create content that pleases both.

Our Content’s Ziploc Fresh!

How about “fresh content”? I hear that one a lot. I think it arises from a misunderstanding of a freshness update announced by Google News awhile back. As soon as I saw that, I knew we’d soon be dealing with the old “Google loves fresh content” meme all over again.

Certainly, in their news results, Google wants to highlight more recent articles. That only makes sense. But that’s not the same as saying that Google will give preference to new articles in their general search results. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true — articles that have been around for awhile gain credibility through longevity. Speaking personally, I’ve got some websites that have articles several years old, which are still the top drawing articles on the site. In the general results, Google wants to show the best content, regardless of how old (or new) it is.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with creating new content! But fer cryin’ out loud, make it good strong conversion-optimized content. Don’t create crappy content just for the sake of having something new.

Taking The Long Way Home

Unfortunately, some SEOs have apparently decided that “long” is the same as “good.” Sure, in Google’s recent Panda updates they did target what has been termed “thin” content… but, frankly, those 25-word product descriptions that you just cut-and-pasted from the manufacturer’s website weren’t doing you all that much good even before Panda.

Longer is not the same as better. When asked how long articles should be, one professional SEO I know says they should be as long as it takes to get the point across, and no longer. If your SEO (consultant or in-house) is telling you articles have to be some specific length “for the search engines,” get a new SEO.

Cranial Density

And don’t even get me started on “keyword density”! I thought that one was dead and buried years ago, but like some sort of copywriting zombie, it keeps digging its way back to the surface. Should you include keywords in your copy? Of course! Is there some magical “keyword density” target number, where if you match that number your page will automatically zoom to the top of the search results? Puh-leeze.

Now, go, read Heather’s rant!

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