Don't Turn SEO Into Spam

Thursday, February 28, 2008 by Mistlee

Don't Turn SEO Into Spam

By Scott Boyd

I think most of us know the difference between a quality article and a spammy optimised one, but there is a line in the middle that a lot of us tread.

The line itself is very grey for most people, but personally I think there is a clear difference that is very easy to spot. Unfortunately, my thoughts on the matter would suggest that a large percentage of "optimised" content out there is in fact spam. Controversial, I know!

Let me clarify. I don't think search engine optimisers are spammers. Some are, clearly, but most aren't. I just think some are a little bit liberal with how far to take the optimisation process and need to expand their borders a little.

Take my article about SEO agency copywriting sins. That is what I would consider to be an "optimised" article. Why? The focus is on the content, not the optimisation. It isn't particularly targeted very well but then again I don't think every article you write should be focused so tightly on keywords.

OK if it isn't technically targeting juicy keywords then it isn't particularly well optimised - I know. But my point is the technical process of optimising an article not the actual targeting itself.

One of the main things I think the SEO industry is guilty of is stifling creativity and narrowing focus. Not everything needs to be about the keywords! The point is that breaking the mold of intensive keyword targeting can be a form of optimisation in itself. Just like using the same title tag on every page is bad, using the same generic form of copy optimisation can be bad too. Not bad in terms of direct SEO, but more for how users perceive your content.

A "perfect" example

A perfect example of this is from 2006. I wrote a somewhat sarcastic review of an article written by Bigmouthmedia, which was entitled, "Google PageRank Update, Page Rank Update and Page Rank Explained" - read my take on it here.

Keyword stuffing in the title. Misssspellings. No real solid information. It's not real spam (as spam might be defined by most of the SEO industry), but it's not a real article either is it? It doesn't mean BMM are spammers - it's just a badly written article.

The point I'm making here is that "made for SEO" articles isn't search engine optimisation in my opinion. The clue is in the name. Optimisation. You optimise existing copy or write new copy with optimisation in mind. Creating an article that has no value just for the sake of having a page rank for that term is just spam in my opinion. Maybe a nice cherry coloured spam, but spam nonetheless.

Don't get me wrong, we've all done it (me included), but more and more these days I'm starting to think it's getting out of hand. You visit some websites and it's like browsing through an elaborate Wordtracker printout.

Content can have different objectives

Every page on your site should have its own mini content strategy. Perhaps not something formal, but certainly a general rule of thumb should be attached to each content type.

Consider these examples:
  • A forum thread
  • A news article
  • A blog post
  • A product page
  • A category page
  • A social media page
  • A directory page
Should each of these pages follow the same optimisation process? No.

You don't want to be ranking for high money terms with a forum thread - you don't want a core product page to be treated like a news item. You should be carefully crafting your different content areas to accommodate for different types of searches.

Using the BMM example - that, IMO, is just plain lazy. They've used their news CMS to pubish an article that attempts to target a generic term. What's the point in that? They don't allow comments - the page doesn't sell anything. That was just an ego optimisation that they tried and failed to rank for.

If a page has no purpose other than an attempt to rank for a random term, then it is spam.

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