When I first got started in SEO, things were different, simpler. In part this was due to the way in which we measured success. Success looked like a number one ranking, and an increase in visitors. We had no idea what conversion rate was normal, so any sales looked good. Bounce rates didn’t matter because primitive analytics solutions didn’t measure that type of metric, and if you’d talked to me about user engagement, you’d have got a blank look – after all, I wasn’t building wedding websites.
As a result of this, the primary goal of a lot of the content that was written in those days was dreadful. Despite Google’s guidelines, the stuff that passed for website content wasn’t really there for users, it was there to provide a place to put keywords. It looked like this:
If you’re looking for cheap anything, then you’ve come to the right place. We have the cheapest anything anywhere on the internet, so before you buy your cheap anything, check out our prices, and get cheap anything for less!
Then two things happened: Google Analytics, and Social Media.
Google Analytics changed the game for a lot of marketers. Before large numbers of people had access to free software to monitor traffic, and the ability to understand how users interacted with your content, there was little ability to understand where you could improve things. Once you could measure things like bounce rates and user journeys, it was possible to improve the user experience. As a result, content improved.
Social Media also changed things. Once commercial websites started to invest in forums and blogs, and started to have a conversation with their users, they soon discovered that people want more than just a slab of keyword stuffed rubbish. They want to be spoken to as a peer.
I’ll freely admit that over the years I’ve been responsible for some pretty questionable content flooding the internet like this gem from back in 2007 which was totally written for search engines (and my own amusment):
But I’ve changed since then.
But it seems that some people haven’t. Today I was doing a quick competitor review as part of a sales process and I came across the following gem:
If you’re looking for cheap KEYWORD; then you’ve come to the right place.
On every single page of their website.
And on every single page of many of their competitors websites.
I’ll grant that it isn’t easy to write keyword rich engaging content that simultaneously appeals to users and ticks the boxes for search engine relevance, but it’s not that hard. So start doing it, because ultimately, not all users need to be told that they’re in the right place for something on every page they visit in the same way that they don’t need to be told to click here on every big red button.