Web writing… Expectations for Search Engine ranking

This Thursday and Friday I’ll be in Boston for the third annual “Writing Right for the Web” conference sponsored by Academic Impressions. We’ve done them in San Diego and Atlanta and I’m looking forward to meeting the people who will be with us this week.

The war on “Black Hat” SEO continues

An “extra” session on Friday will focus on writing and editing for search engine optimization. 
To help make sure I’m still close to the mark on that often-changing topic I have just watched a May video from Matt Cutts at Google (What to expect in SEO in the coming months). Here are my main take-away points:
  • Google continues to search for ways to but “black hat” SEO people out of business. That’s great. I get regular offers from people who know little if anything about me to exchange links. At least 75 percent of these folk have little if any connection with anything I write about. 
  • Quality content remains the most important element for strong SEO results. What defines “quality content”? One important element for Google is whether or not anybody reads it. The “Panda” criteria are still important: if you have a large amount of content on your website that is seldom visited by anyone, your SEO rankings will suffer. 
“Be Natural” is still the best approach
The most important point that Cutts repeats over and over again: “Be natural.”
  • Use keywords and phrases, but don’t overdo them. 
  • Control the “marketing speak” that appears on your site. Too many higher education sites really are like Monster University from Pixar. Don’t be Monster University.
  • Give people the content you know they want, not the content you think they must read. Long, dense “Welcome” statements from presidents and deans are my favorite candidates for purging.
Give the folks at Google credit for trying to chase the snake oil salesmen from our online lives and for crafting new ways to give more weight to quality content in SEO results. They may never win the war but let’s hope they get close.
And put Matt Cutts on your regular reading and viewing schedule.
That’s all for now.

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