Will Keyword Stuffing Help My SEO Results?

July 27, 2016

SEO,Search marketing,online marketing,SEO keywordsKeyword stuffing remains a controversial practice in this age of search engine marketing. But does it still have a place in your SEO strategy?

Keyword stuffing: some modern search marketers gasp at the very thought. We all know that focus keywords are the beating heart of any proper SEO strategy, but is it still wise to jam pack your keywords into your online content, or should you limit your use of keywords to avoid repetition, redundancy, and punishment from search engines? And if keyword stuffing is frowned upon, what are the alternatives?

Let’s have a look at this ongoing debate by taking a quick trip into the not-so-distant past.

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Dial back to the late 1990s when Google had to compete with such search engines as Excite, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves. To be picked up by search engines, you still needed to use keywords, but the philosophy back then was “the more, the merrier.” In other words, if you used those keywords as many times as possible, you increased your chances of a high ranking and outdoing your competition in keyword density.

For example, let’s say Susie started a destination wedding planning business. It’s 2001, and she’s looking to take advantage of the relatively new system of search marketing. After determining that “destination wedding planner” was the most effective keyword phrase for her business, she created content that repeated that phrase over and over again. As a result, her content read like this:

“If you’re looking for a destination wedding planner, I am the best destination wedding planner in the area. I have been a destination wedding planner for over five years, and love being a destination wedding planner. I offer my destination wedding planner services in person, but could also be your destination wedding planner over the Internet. When you need a destination wedding planner, call me for my expert destination wedding planner services.”

At the time, this kind of content may have done the trick in terms of search results. But although we get the overall message, the paragraph doesn’t read very well. The content isn’t compelling, nor does it educate or engage.

In short, it doesn’t do what great content should.

To try to outdo her competition even further, Susie also took the sneaky step of packing the keyword phrase into the web page even more and colouring the font to match her website’s background. This renders the keyword invisible to the viewer but still searchable by the search engines.

This practice is what’s known as keyword stuffing. It might have worked back in 2001, but search engines have come a long way since then. So, too, have SEO strategies.

Old Practice, Modern Problems

Now let’s bring Susie’s business up to today. Google is now the “king” of search engines, with Bing/Live Search and DuckDuckGo serving as worthy alternatives. Assuming that Susie hasn’t changed her content since 2001 (which raises a whole host of other issues), she will likely find that their rankings have dropped somewhat.

Actually, “dropped” isn’t the correct word. Let’s replace it with “plummeted”.

So, Susie decides to create new content, but keeps the old practice of keyword stuffing, hoping to repeat that initial success from 2001. Still, no luck, and she wonders why that would be. Don’t search engines still follow that “the more, the merrier” philosophy?

According to Jemma Fong, SEO expert and owner of InSite Creations, search engines today actually look down on websites which practice keyword stuffing.

“Google’s ranking and indexing formula is much more sophisticated and advanced these days,”  says Jemma. “Search engines now put more emphasis on the contextual meaning of the content, and can determine what the main topic or theme is behind each of the pages. In other words, relevancy and quality that is worth sharing are key ranking factors.

“But repetitive frequency of a keyword, which is measured by a ratio that depends on the total word count, could cause Google to penalize the website with a low ranking.”

Jemma also states that Susie’s inclusion of invisible keywords is considered a “black hat” practice that could also result in a ranking penalty. 

These days, search engines pay more attention to the actual content while simultaneously keeping an eye on keyword frequency. This new way of ranking was developed specifically to deter keyword stuffing, and encourage marketers to create content that informs, educates, and engages their website visitors.

This is also why our wedding planner is not only ranking low, but is also risking today’s customers leaving her site due to poor content, especially when compared to her savvier competitors who might be more in touch with modern SEO practices.

A Better SEO Strategy

Now that we’ve established that keyword stuffing is no longer a wise practice with or without an overall SEO strategy, Jemma recommends taking the below steps to implementing keywords that meet current and proper SEO guidelines:

  1. Brainstorm for all the various search query keyword phrases that you believe your target audience would use to find your product/service offerings
  2. Group those words together into like-minded groups
  3. Choose a couple of key phrases that would be your “focus” keyword and test to see how difficult it would be to rank in comparison to your competitors
  4. Create a navigation map around each focus/seed keyword, using tab and sub-tabs that will represent a page that supports the top level focus keyword
  5. Build out your content based on that focus keyword

“When calculating keyword difficulty,” Jemma says. “Be sure to review the number of queries, the number of other sites using that keyword theme, and its bid value. This will help determine whether they are worthy words upon which you can build quality content.”

So let’s bring our destination wedding planner up to speed. “Instead of stuffing her content with that one phrase,” Jemma says. “Susie can use related terms or synonyms that help enhance the overall meaning or semantic sense of what the page and site are about.”

Here are some keyword phrases that Susie can incorporate into her content to help her search results without resorting to keyword stuffing:

  • wedding specialist
  • wedding themes
  • destination weddings
  • bridal shower
  • wedding destination plan
  • wedding budget
  • wedding paperwork
  • getting married abroad

“At the same time,” Jemma adds. “Choose a few long-tail keyword phrases that you can use for blog articles to support that keyword phrase.”

Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that a customer might use in Google to find a business. Here are some that our wedding planner might use:

  • how to choose a destination wedding planner
  • tips for getting married abroad
  • what you need to know about international weddings

“Keyword stuffing will typically result in lowering your page ranking,” Jemma concludes. “But if you follow the above steps, you will build high-value valuable content that both the search engines and your readers will like. Above all, don’t try to employ “black hat” techniques as they will only lead to being penalized by the search engines.”

By strategically using the above keywords properly, Susie will start ranking better and engaging her website visitors. In the long run, this will lead to more conversions and an increased chance of hitting her business goals.

Richard S. Todd is Content Lead at The Editor’s Desk, creating web copy that attracts, engages, and converts your audience into qualified leads.


Online Copywriting Portfolio

June 21, 2016

Hey everyone!

Just a quick note to let you know that my online copywriting portfolio is now live at The Editor’s Desk!

You’ll find samples of my digital and print work, as well as a video that I not only scripted, but also starred in!

Please note, however, that due to confidentiality I’m unable to post my entire body of work. But my online copywriting portfolio offers you a glimpse at what I can do, and a sense of the great clients I’ve had the privilege to work with.

As always, reach out to me with any questions.

Talk soon!

RT

Richard S. Todd is Content Lead at The Editor’s Desk, creating web copy that attracts, engages, and converts your audience into qualified leads.


The Difference Between Online Advertising and Online Marketing

June 10, 2016

online marketingThe difference between online advertising and online marketing can be summed up with one word, but its origins go all the way back to that old advertising stalwart, the Yellow Pages.

I remember how exciting it was to get the new Yellow Pages directory at the door, and flipping through it to look at all the ads and listings. Growing up in a relatively small town, it was thrilling to point out places that I had seen, or had actually been to!

I always wanted to order pizza from the restaurant with the biggest, most compelling graphic. It was almost as if we were dealing with a celebrity business. The pizza restaurants with the smaller ads, or even just a listing, didn’t matter. It seemed they didn’t impress me enough to want to order (although their pizza could have been sensational).

Looking back now, I can see how Yellow Pages advertising left a distinct impression on me. And although the Yellow Pages directory is now nearly defunct (and even frowned upon by the more eco-minded among us), advertising still competes for our attention and dollars through radio, television, print, and online.

With SEO, PPC, and social media campaigns, it’s very easy to finely target prospects online with a relatively little advertising spend. And online advertising really does parallel the old Yellow Pages – the bigger, prettier ads do get more attention and, potentially, more clicks.

Unlike Yellow Pages, which was dropped off at every door, you can select your target demographic quite easily and effectively online. Many people consider this added bonus as crossing the line from advertising into online marketing. But you can do the same thing with print, radio, and television ads by selecting a certain demographic to which you can send your message.

It’s still advertising. Finely targeted advertising, but still advertising, nonetheless.

The real difference between advertising and online marketing can be summed up with one word: relationships.

Think about it. Can you engage with that radio ad? Bond with that TV commercial? Publicly like, comment, and share that direct mail piece?

I suppose you could try, but none of those mediums will talk back or express their appreciation.

In this new world of customer empowerment, in which choice has never been so wide (you can buy printer ink from the store next door or from some tiny shop in Northern Scotland), building relationships has never been more important. With true online marketing, you can provide platforms where customers can like, share, and comment on your messaging. And believe me, they’re thrilled when you reply, and pay you back with loyalty and advocacy.

And yet, I still have a soft spot for that old yellow directory. Even if it couldn’t talk back.

Richard S. Todd is Content Lead at The Editor’s Desk, creating web copy that attracts, engages, and converts your audience into qualified leads.


Why Isn’t My SEO Strategy Working?

May 4, 2016

Stress

Getting their SEO strategy to perform at peak levels is a common challenge for business owners. In fact, their SEO might actually be taking them in the right direction, only needing a few simple tweaks to maximize results.

Business owners who manage their own SEO strategy often follow the self-optimization tools provided in SEO packages, such as Yoast, to guide them through the tricky waters of search marketing.

As robust as these tools can be, there are some key custom elements of a complete SEO strategy that many businesses tend to overlook, causing them to potentially miss out on better rankings. Much of them have to do with content generation, which SEO software won’t (and shouldn’t) help you with, and where you publish your content outside of your own domain.

Here are examples of those little extras that can help better your search results:

  1. Long-Tail Keywords: Let’s say you sell shoes in Seattle. You decide to implement an SEO strategy on your website and start brainstorming SEO keywords. The first one you might think of is “shoes”. “Footwear” might come in second, followed by a list of your top brands. While these keywords are certainly relevant, they’re also in high demand and might not rank you very well in search results. This is why long-tail keywords play an important role in setting you apart from your competition. Try something like “Imported leather shoes from Italy in Seattle” or “Steve Madden shoes Seattle”. There – you just improved your odds of being found. Long-tail keywords also work great for your blogs, such as: “Which shoe polish is best for brown leather shoes?”
  2. Write for People: Have you ever tried to read pure SEO-oriented content? It’s not a compelling read for humans or search engines. That’s right – search algorithms are so intelligent that they can separate good content from keyword-stuffed mumbo jumbo. And even if the keyword-stuffed mumbo jumbo ranks highly, who’s going to read it and be moved to convert? The bottom line is to write for humans, optimize for search, not the other way around.
  3. Off-site SEO: Here’s one that a lot of businesses miss. Off-site SEO refers to “authority building” that Google uses as a ranking factor. This authority is measured by inbound links from external sources that are of high authority themselves. If these sites are linking to yours, Google will perceive your site as having authority as well. Guest blogging and social media syndication are two great ways to raise your off-site authority.

On a final note, remember that, like content management, an SEO strategy can’t be successful with a “set it and forget it” philosophy. It needs to be revisited from time to time to reinforce what’s been successful, and tweak what hasn’t.

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's Desk

Richard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, creating web copy that attracts, engages, and converts your audience into qualified leads.


Your FAQ Page: An Added Opportunity for Conversion

April 4, 2016

richard todd,self-publishing coach,copywriting torontoYou might not feel you need an FAQ page, but having one gives you another opportunity to attract, engage, and convert customers.

Here’s how to optimize yours.

 

Do you have an FAQ page? If so, are you using it to its full potential?

FAQ pages are great ways to inform your audience about important information they need when doing business with you. You can, however, use your FAQ page as a strategic marketing tool to convert more website visitors into qualified leads.

Think about it. People who invest their time to read your FAQ page are doing so for a reason: they’re interested in doing business with you. Why not just give them a little extra push to move them through their sales journey, and develop a relationship that could make you money?

Here are some ideas for optimizing your FAQ page for conversion:

  1. Use Real Questions: What do your customers ask you about the most? Maybe they want to know about your team’s experience, return policy, or what certain industry terms mean. Just like the rest of your site, only include the most relevant information here.
  2. Include Keywords and Links: Be sure to include lots of keywords on your page, as well as internal and external links where the reader can go to learn more information.
  3. Encourage Engagement: Even though you’ve included all the FAQs you could think of, there will always be some prospects who will ask more. This is a great reason to include a call to action at the bottom of the page, encouraging inquisitive folks to submit their own question. Be sure to personally answer them ASAP to start them on their sales journey.
  4. Use Landing Pages: One of the questions might be solved with a white paper you’ve written. Include the link to its landing page in your answer.
  5. Watch the Length: More isn’t always better when it comes to content, and FAQ pages are no exception. If your FAQ page is too long, your reader might give up halfway down. For longer pages, try installing a search function or hyperlinks to the answers.

You need every chance you can get to convert your audience. By optimizing your FAQ page, you’ll be giving your business an extra chance to attract, engage, and convert website visitors into qualified leads.


Minimize The Panic When Moderating Panels

September 12, 2015

moderating panelsModerating panels can be a rewarding avenue to professional growth. However, some preparation is necessary to ensure a lively discussion between the participants, provide an enjoyable experience for the audience, and minimize panic for the moderator.

Many professionals love being on panels. It gives them the opportunity to be in the spotlight for a short time, and provide their opinions on topics they know best.

After all, what better ways are there to establish yourself as an influencer than appearing on a panel in front of an audience who’s hungry for your insights?

Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate three panels at Fan Expo 2015 in Toronto. The topics involved the craft of writing, book publishing, and the future of the horror genre. I love moderating panels, and was happy to do it.

However, a lot of people don’t like the idea of acting as moderator. They consider it a thankless job that puts one in the unglamorous role of questioner rather than influencer. Besides, when was the last time you tuned into an interview for the interviewer, rather than the interviewee?

Also, all eyes are on the moderator to keep the conversation flowing, as well as maintain control of the panelists while watching the time. Moderators need to think on their feet, as opposed to just sit back and answer questions as they come.

These are all valid points, but I would counter that moderators, through all of this, are granted a position of leadership, motivation, and focus. They’re running the show, even if they’re not necessarily the stars of it.

Although that may sound great, it might also tend to give moderators-to-be cold feet.

Have you been tasked with moderating an upcoming panel? Don’t panic – here are some tips to help you run a silky-smooth discussion:

  • Prepare questions relevant to the audience: If your audience is comprised of startups, questions about setting up a company IPO might not be exactly relevant at this point. Keep your audience engaged with questions they would ask themselves, delivered in a way they can understand.
  • Send the questions to the participants beforehand: I’ve seen panels where the speakers were completely caught off guard by the questions posed to them. I have no idea why the moderator didn’t prep the panelists ahead of time, but doing so would have kept the awkward silences to a minimum. No one likes to be caught unprepared, or on the receiving end of a “gotcha” moment, so be sure to send the questions/topics list ahead of time.
  • Position the microphones and water for easy access: Look, you’re the host. And a good host makes sure that microphones are evenly distributed and water is within reach. You don’t have to run and get M&Ms for a high-maintenance participant, but these two little gestures show the panel that you care about making them comfortable.
  • Give warm introductions: You don’t have to provide biographies of the “born in a log cabin” sort (unless that log cabin is actually relevant to their story), but do mention your panelists’ career highlights, especially those that qualify them to be speaking to the topic at hand. Also, lead the audience in applause to welcome the panel as a whole once the introductions are complete. PS: Don’t forget to introduce yourself, but do so first and without making the whole event about you.
  • Segue from topic to topic smoothly: Once the last panelist has addressed a certain topic, find a way to quickly build on their point and smoothly segue into the next discussion. Abruptly asking the next question will feel awkward and stilted. You want to lead an easy-going exchange with your panelists.
  • Leave ample time for Q&A: If Q&A is part of the program, leaving 10 – 15 minutes at the end for questions is usually recommended to make sure everyone gets a chance to ask and respond.
  • Thank the panelists and the audience: A no-brainer, but again, make it about everyone in room except yourself.

Prior to Fan Expo, I had moderated a live writing panel at a large book festival with some degree of success. However, as any skilled interviewer will tell you, your success will depend on your ability to do your homework, prepare your notes, and communicate with your panelists and audience effectively.

After all, you’re just one of those three important elements of a successful panel discussion, but you’re also the conduit between the other two.

Have you had any panel success or horror stories? Share them in the comments!

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's Desk

Richard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, providing professional content management and business copywriting services, as well as comprehensive manuscript editing and proofreading.

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Visit Me at Fan Expo 2015 in Toronto!

August 23, 2015

Hey everyone!

I’m appearing at Fan Expo 2015 in Toronto between September 4th and 6th, so I hope you’ll come out and say hello!

I’ll be selling and signing copies of my novels Raincloud and The Orphans of the Creek at the HWA booth (# 5221) at the following times:

  • Friday, September 4th, 2 – 4 PM
  • Saturday, September 5th, 4 – 6 PM

If you’re interested in attending any the HWA panels, I’ll be moderating three of them!

  • “So You Want to Write Horror?” – Friday at 11:15 AM in Room 703
  • “What Scares You?” – Friday at 12:45 PM in Room 705
  • “What’s the Next Big Thing in Horror Fiction?” – Sunday at 11:45 AM in Room 705

Buy some books, pose for a pic, and learn how you can be a writer at Fan Expo 2015 in Toronto. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I hope to see you there!

Richard Todd,Editor's Desk,About Us,About The Editor's Desk

Richard S. Todd is President at The Editor’s Desk, providing professional content management and web copywriting services, as well as comprehensive manuscript editing and proofreading.


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