Several years ago, many of the companies building websites indulged in what is usually called “keyword stuffing.” This meant that they were writing specifically to appeal to the way Google worked and not to the reader who might visit their site. Some of this content was appallingly unreadable. It would go something like this fictional example for a chain of patio furniture stores in Virginia with outlets in several cities across the state:
When you are looking for patio furniture in Virginia, you should be sure to pick a reputable patio furniture store in Virginia. The best patio furniture stores in Virginia can be found in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond, Alexandria and Arlington. So those people shopping for patio furniture in Virginia should make sure they get the best prices in Virginia by…
You get the idea. Because of the way Google’s functionality was built in those days, this system worked to bring this page higher in search results than a competitor’s page that was written to actually be read by a customer!
Google Revises its Functionality Several Times a Year – Always Getting Smarter
But those days are long gone. Several times a year now, Google’s functionality goes through a medium-to-major shift. I’m not sure how they have managed it, but Google’s perceptions of web content become more and more human with every revision. With the latest couple of revisions, the type of writing you see above – horribly stilted and obviously just written for the search engines – is now penalized. This page might have found itself on page one of Google search results in 2007 but now it’s going to disappear far down the results.
So if you have content on your website that has been sitting there for several years and it was written this way, you need to update it immediately!
Writing with Synonyms
Fortunately for everyone, Google now looks for synonyms for your keywords which means your new content can be in a much more natural style. So if want to appear in searches for patio furniture, you can also use words like deck, terrace, courtyard, yard and backyard.
Instead of being limited to furniture, you can use chairs, chaise, lounge chairs, sectionals, outdoor chairs, and so on. So do use your prime keywords but don’t limit yourself to them. If someone is writing for you, give them keywords and synonyms and encourage them to work with them in a very natural flow of language.
This means that the person who is writing your content can write to interest and appeal to your customers! This is quite important because after all, it’s the customer who would actually buy something from you, not Google. Yes, you need to rank high in the search results in order to be found, but the copy on your website is supposed to sell.
For several years, a large proportion of companies on the ‘net decided to sacrifice readability and sales appeal for ranking. I doubt that it was a good business decision for them. The recent changes mark a return to the good old days of advertising copywriting when the words on the page were carefully designed to SELL the product.
So make Google happy – appear at the top of the search results – and SELL to your customers by updating your website content to keep up with these latest trends.