I got started online as a freelance writer.

Well no, that’s not exactly true. I got started running Google sniper sites. But since that was about as unsustainable as a business model gets, it wasn’t long before I started wanting to actually make money.

And that’s when I got started as a writer, writing 500 word articles for $1.50 a pop. I still remember setting my rate on oDesk to $2.00 an hour (all about that first client, right?).

My specialty? The “SEO article.” 500 words of absolute garbage riddled with long tail keywords.

That was several years ago. But today, looking at Elance, I STILL see requests for “500 word SEO articles.” That is, frankly, unbelievable to me.

We’re in a

Although SEOSiteCheckUp.com readers understand “New SEO,” for those who are just joining us, know this: the days of “SEO content” are over.

“SEO content,” by its very name, goes 100% against what Google is looking to do with their search engine. Remember, users first, search engine bots second. That’s what we’ve always said. But now, with the newest algorithms, it’s simply users first, as the Google bots are designed to “read” websites like a human would.

When you order 50 500 word articles for $5 a pop, you think you’re getting a great SEO deal. What you’re really getting is almost guaranteed SEO failure. Seriously.

It’s the same as getting your site blasted with backlinks on Fiverr. It might seem like you’re doing the right thing to reach rank one, but you’re actually doing the absolute worst thing you could do for the longevity of your site. 

There are two main problems with “SEO content.”

Article Length

The longer the article, the more expensive it is… generally. It’s funny – that’s about the worst pricing model imaginable if you’re looking for quality. Because writing isn’t about a word count. It’s about using the right amount of words to get the job done – no more, no less.

When you put a word count on it, it simply encourages people to cram as much useless verbiage into the article as possible. So you’re paying for pure fluff, plain and simple.

Instead of paying for a word count, pay for quality. This is all that really matters. There are articles that have gone viral on either spectrum. 200-word articles can go viral just as easily as 3,000-word articles – as long as they are absolute top quality.

Thing is, 3,000-word articles are generally a lot higher quality than 200 (or 500) word articles.

When you limit an article-length to 500 words, you are practically guaranteeing no reader will ever gain value from your content. This is not the kind of site Google wants to list on rank #1.

Keyword Stuffing

Google’s algorithm is a lot more advanced than it used to be. Before, we had to put keywords and key phrases in exact order to get any SEO value from them. Now, all we need to do is write naturally on a subject, and Google will automatically pick up on all the keywords and LSI keywords.

Great news, actually, because now we can write articles our readers enjoy reading without worrying about losing SEO juice.

In an article at Site Pro News, writer Karon Thackston sent several emails back and forth with the head of the Google webspam team, Matt Cutts.

Matt said something that might surprise people:  

KARON: So, then, you’re saying perhaps put the original keyphrase on the page once or twice (to help Google out), and then just use the individual words within the phrase throughout the rest of the copy? … 

MATT: Correct, as long as it’s done naturally, not artificially or in a spammy way.

As I’ve always said, “Never sacrifice the quality of your copy for the sake of the search engines.” It’s just not necessary. The next time you write a new page of copy, test this approach to writing for the engines and see if you get as good (or better) results than before. I’m betting you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Straight from the source.

So, What Type of Content Do You Need to Write?

The answer to this question is so simple, I really should not even have to answer it, but I will. Write content that your readers want, and Google will give it to them. Simple right? Well, the sad truth is, most website owners do not know what type of content their users want, so that is the first step to success.

What Readers Want

Readers want content that answers a question, explains how to do something, and tells them something they did not know, or offers an interesting perspective on a relevant topic. The type of content you place on your website, your blog or social media site is determined by what your audience finds of interest. You should already know what your targeted audience wants, yes you should. But, if you don’t, there are a few ways to find out.

Social Media: Set up a social media page on the various platforms and listen to your followers. Watch what they talk about, place different types of content up on your site and monitor which ones are doing the best. This is easily done, just watch to see which ones are being noticed, shared or commented on.

Competitor Sites: Yes, you should be checking out your competitors sites, and that includes their social media sites as well. By watching the trends on their sites, you can find out what you audience wants, because you should have a similar audience. Read their blogs, look at what they Tweet and check out what Facebook posts are being shared most frequently. Now, here is an important note – DO NOT COPY the competitor, but use them as a model for your own foundation instead. They are only meant to give you some direction, mimicking their every move will not get you the success you want.

Customer Contact: One of the best ways to find out what your customers want is to ask. Remember back in the day when human contact was more prevalent? You may be too young to remember the corner store along a dirt road that only carried items that customers requested. There were no competing stores in the area, just the one store and if he didn’t have what you wanted, you had to ask for it. Even I am too young to remember that, but that is exactly what we need to go back to, well, somewhat.

What I mean is this – Do not try to be a giant in the industry if you are not, instead try to be the little guy inside the corner store. The giant offers whatever they want and forces it down their customer’s throats and because they are a HUGE brand and people are followers, they will choke it down, whatever it is. Now, the little guy inside the corner store is more interested in his customer, he asks them what THEY want and then delivers. This is where you need to be. Ask your customers what they want, through your social media sites, blogs and using comment boxes, surveys and other tools.

Once you know what your readers are looking for, you can write content that will get noticed. As far as word count, like stated above, there is no minimum or maximum, it is all about quality. So, if what you have to say can be done in 300 words or less, great, but if you need more words to get your point across, use as many as you need. The main goal is to give information to your readers that answer all of their questions. If you leave something out of your article, and they still need that answer, guess who has the answers? That’s right, your competitor. 

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