Common DIY SEO Fails: Content

This is the fourth part in a series, “Common DIY Marketing Failures,” in which we examine some of the common pitfalls for businesses who attempt to market themselves online without the guidance of a professional. Just joining us? You’ll find the previous posts here, here and here.

Web Content COCG

If you’ve been following the mishaps of our dear friend Mr. Pants Salesman, you may remember from our first post that we mentioned one very important, all-encompassing point about SEO content: Write your SEO content for humans, NOT search engines.

You might be thinking, “Well thank you for that, Captain Obvious.” But all too often we see people like Mr. Pants Salesman getting caught up in the technicalities of DIY SEO and overlooking the most obvious way to attract leads with your web presence — writing in a way that appeals to your audience.

Keep it Fresh

We’re not asking you to be the next Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, but creating quality, search engine-optimized content requires connecting with your audience and providing relevant information on your pages. Google’s spiders crawl the web regularly, so it’s best to routinely produce fresh content that serves readers. Including information relevant to your expertise on your web pages gives you more authority in Google’s eyes, and thus, a higher ranking.

Mr. Pants Salesman has definitely fallen short in this category. He hasn’t updated his website in months, and his pages are mostly photos of his inventory, with little supporting content. Our pants-selling friend has lots of options when it comes to creating unique, relevant content. For example, he could build out service area pages, optimized for customers in surrounding towns, that highlight his inventory and overall pants savviness. Because he considers himself the “smarty pants” of, well, pants, Mr. Pants Salesman would also be wise to create a blog and add regular, fresh content that’s interesting and engaging.

Keep Your Eye on the Target

Writing for your readers involves understanding your target audience, and writing each page with this particular audience in mind. This means that when evaluating the best keywords for each page, it’s best to focus on the most unique keywords that are relevant to your readers. For example, this is what Mr. Pants Salesman has currently on his web page for dress pants:

If you’re looking for a nice pair of pants, come by our Metropolis pants store! We sell mens pants in a variety of styles for your dressiest occasions.

Based on his target audience, however, Mr. Pants Salesman would probably do better to create content that looks a bit like this:

Whatever the occasion, we offer mens dress pants in Metropolis that are designed to impress. Our trousers complete any dressy outfit, providing unbeatable style and class.

Mr. Pants Salesman may argue that he won’t get the broad reach he’d like when he uses such specific keywords, but when it comes down to it, the guy searching for a fresh pair of trousers for his big interview coming up will know exactly where to find them.

Hit ‘Em With a Great (Title & Meta) Tag Line

Another place that Mr. Pants Salesman went wrong is with his title tags and meta tags. He heard that putting the relevant keywords together is a great way to let Google and readers know what each specific page is about. Let’s say he used this for the title tag of his page on cargo pants:

“Metropolis USA Cargo Pants Pants With Pockets Pants For Men Combats”

Huh? At this point, it’s hard to even tell what this page is about. Using a smorgasbord of keywords isn’t effective — it’s best to only use a couple of the the most relevant keywords. For organizational purposes, it’s also never a bad idea to use a pipe “|” to separate the keywords for readability. This is yet another example of how trying too hard to write for search engines can be detrimental to your ability to reach real readers.

Mr. Pants Salesman just can’t win. He’s moved on to writing a meta tag description for his homepage. Here’s what showed up in Google search:

“Welcome to Fancy Pants Pants Store. We’d love to have you visit our pants store in Metropolis! We carry cargo pants, trousers and other styles of pants. We’ll take your pants…”

I don’t know about you, but when I shop for pants, I like to leave the store with an extra pair of pants — not without them altogether. What Mr. Pants Salesman doesn’t know is that Google cuts off meta tags at a certain length — leaving him with an unfortunate cliff hanger, as well as a messy (and awkward) first impression.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, think about content with your customers (or potential customers) in mind, and not search engines. Remember, it’s not the search engines that are going to contribute to your bottom line. They aren’t the ones who are going to share about their great experience with your business on Yelp or recommend your services or product to everyone and their brother. Last time I checked — search engines don’t even wear pants, anyway.