How Bad Content Is Ruining SEO


If you've been reading marketing blogs for more than a couple of years, you must have noticed how much more content there is these days. How on earth do you keep up with it all?

About a couple of years ago, I started subscribing by email to blogs that dispensed marketing advice. If I liked a blog post, I'd hit subscribe on that blog immediately. I'd subscribe to blogs other people were reading. I was in a new job managing online marketing, and I wanted to learn as much as I could.

At first I was diligently reading every blog post and newsletter. Then I started skimming through and deleting. Then I would delete some if the headline didn't interest me. By the time I quit that job in early August, I had over a thousand unread emails in my "reading" folder. I was glad to be able to abandon that folder and start afresh.

Now I'm adding blogs to my Google Reader, but I'm being much more circumspect.

TL; DR: There's too much marketing content out there!

You know a funny (actually, quite logical) thing about all that content? It makes it more difficult to find content you actually want to read.

If I want quick tips on how to get more people to see and share my Facebook posts, I don't want to read yet another post on how Facebook is evil and is ruining it for marketers.

For marketers and SEO people, duplicative, badly-written content is hurting us, because it makes it more difficult for our audience to see the good stuff (ours, of course). So here's a list of what-not-to-do that I, on behalf of all of us, am pleading you to follow.

Don't write for search engines

Write for people, not for search engines. Focus on the message, not on the keywords.

Don't have ghost writers

If you're not a good writer, get an editor. But there's a difference between getting help in polishing your message or in structuring your content and in farming out that content altogether. If your name is on it, it should be saying something you believe in.

Don't plagiarize

And I don't just mean copy-pasting an entire blog post from someone else's blog unless you're blatantly unethical, you know not to do that (and if you don't, why am I talking to you anyway?) But one "accepted" way of writing an article seems to be to read a bunch of articles and then rehash them in slightly different words.

Seriously, don't do that. If you have nothing to say, do us all a favor and don't say it.

Don't buy cheap content

Have you seen those ads offering $1 for each article? Have you asked a content writer you know to write a few 500-word articles for you, and you'll give her a list of keywords to include? ("Hi, there.") Don't be that guy.

I don't believe the importance of content has waned. Content through blogs and newsletters continues to be an excellent way to reach out to and nurture your audience and (gently) encourage them to buy. But there is no short-cut to good content, and if you don't want to work at it, just make way for those of us who are.

If you liked this, you might also enjoy How To Avoid The SEO Trap

About the Author: Unmana Datta

Unmana is the co-founder of Markitty, a tool that recommends actions to improve your online marketing. She writes about marketing for startups and small businesses on the Markitty blog and can be found on Twitter @Unmana.

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