By Katie McCaskey published January 17, 2011

Warning! SEO Copy Bubble Bursting

Warning! The SEO web writing bubble is about to burst.

Yes,  just like the housing bubble, the student loan bubble, the bubble in your champagne bath. Why?

Bubbles burst when the fuel tank dries up, or when there are  not enough excessively optimistic or ignorant fools to keep it inflated. In the case of SEO — where self-proclaimed experts and hucksters reign supreme — excessively optimistic or even foolish marketers rush to learn this week’s “best practices,” use the “correct” SEO software or worse, resort to “tricks” to game the system to get more page views.

The biggest sign that the bubble is bursting is already here:  content marketing.

Content marketing employs original, valuable  and niche-specific information. This kind of content is more valuable to  people and search engines alike.

To create original, valuable and niche-specific content, you need:

  • a content strategy founded on engaging copy
  • a regular infusion of new and valuable information in multiple media and in a narrow niche, and
  • copy that inspires a specific action or other form of participation.

Do legitimate SEO web writing techniques exist?


Do you need a basic understanding of them?


But never forget this: There’s no use in employing SEO traffic techniques if the content is weak. Think of the frustration you’ve experienced searching for a particular topic to discover a “robo RSS” site that is filled with keywords but offers no useful or new information.

Here are a few SEO writing techniques to use once you’ve nailed the above.

Keyword placement

Narrow your keywords or phrases. Add them in your headline, your meta data, and in the majority – but not all – of your paragraphs. Placing keywords and phrases early in the sentence and early in the copy will help. Be careful, though, as too many of the same keywords repeated will hurt you in the  search results. So, find other ways of saying the same thing.  Think of your reader first,  not the search engine.

Careful tagging

Remember to tag your photos. Build a tagging hierarchy that has fewer root categories and more descriptive tags per post.

Inbound, outbound and cross-bound links

Ultimately, you want a lot of people linking to and sharing your content (inbound links). How? Be generous with your willingness to link to others exploring similar topics first (outbound links). Reference similar, helpful content on your site with cross-bound links.

Regular publication

You’ll win search engines and people if you deliver content on a regular schedule and consistent basis. Yes, you’re busy. So is everyone else. That’s why you win if you’re the person who is consistent. If you can’t manage the content, hire an SEO web writer who can. Here is my best tip: Expect to pay for quality content. Cheap “content mill” writing may win in the search engines over the short term, but won’t win the loyalty of your audience.

Great copywriting combined with search engine optimization will give you a massive push forward toward sales, readership or engagement. Just remember: The “SEO” bubble is about to burst. Search results can be tinkered, but your audience can’t be fooled. They want quality.

The search engines are wising up, and so are the people embracing content marketing.

Author: Katie McCaskey

Katie McCaskey is Content Director of SixEstate, a content marketing firm powered by professional journalists and editors in New York City. Connect on Google+ or follow her on Twitter @KatieMcCaskey.

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  • Karon Thackston

    Thank you for your post, Katie. I regularly get up on my soapbox to shout that SEO copy doesn’t have to sound like “that.” It’s frustrating to watch the types of writers/companies you described as “hucksters” trick people into participating in practices that may, in fact, do more harm than good. Thanks for spreading the word that – while there are specific techniques that can make the job of SEO copywriting easier and more effective, it is not necessary to employ outlandish practices to achieve excellent results.

    • Katie McCaskey

      Karon, thanks – I know what you mean when you say “sound like ‘that'” – ick! Often SEO writing just sounds bad…e.g. keyword!keyword!keyword!

  • Gloria Rand

    I was about to object when I read the title of this post, because I am an SEO copywriter. But then, as I read further, and you talked about the importance of using keywords in the copy, in alt tags, I felt better. 🙂 However, I still think your title is a bit misleading. It should have been the SEO Copy Mill Bubble is Bursting. There is absolutely a place for well-written SEO copy that not only reaches the search engines, but compels the web visitor to take action – the ultimate aim of a business website.

    • Katie McCaskey

      Good point, Gloria. Surely it is the “content mill” garbage that is the first to go… people don’t want it, and, the search engines are very savvy, say, if someone copies and pastes written material to backfill their site. We’re in absolute agreement that seo web writing is important part of online business – all the more reason great/effective/persuasive content can’t be “faked”.

      • White Label SEO

        With Google Panda making waves on the web, these content mills will die off on their own anyway. Quality is now more important than ever.

  • Heather Lloyd-Martin


    Great article and great tips – thanks! I do want to emphasize that there are *many* good SEO firms who “get it” – and we’re not all “self-proclaimed hucksters.” 🙂 These companies have preached quality content since the very beginning, long before “content marketing” became a hot topic. Thanks for the post!

    • Katie McCaskey

      True; it’s unfair to lump all seo providers together. My point is that seo is frequently positioned as the only/easiest solution when in fact great online content requires much more. As time goes on more people will understand the distinction – and place greater value on those companies or individuals who offer genuine skill-sets. Thanks for the comment!

  • Jan Schochet

    Really great article, Katie.

    Now if we can only get this info out there to the businesses that hire us web copywriters (who use “white hat SEO,” for instance as taught by Heather Lloyd-Martin!).

    Sadly, last week, a woman in my women’s networking group approached me because some “web designer” she knew wanted to re-do her site and had already begun. And I said I’d take a look at the content.

    Oy. It’s a mess. Her original site was much nicer, much more her.

    Neither person, apparently, knows where copy should correctly go (her home page copy is really “about us” and her good benefit copy isn’t slated for home page). Not to mention SEO (not much done right there).

    The guy didn’t know what he was doing and she’s a businesswoman caught in-between.

    Her downfall? She’s doing a “swap” for him. It’s hard to stand by and watch people being taken advantage

    Hope lots of people outside the copywriting realm will see this excellent article.

  • alexsoni

    How appreciate!!! All of the information are essential for doing SEO work. Thanks for awesome blog.

  • Bill Simpson

    All the hype about SEO reminds me of Pedro’s South Of The Border. Anybody who’s ever driven on I-95 from Virginia to Florida has seen the signs that go on for hundreds of miles. After seeing the signs on many trips, I decided to check the place out. It turned out to be a collection of bad restaurants and trinket shops. It was easy to find, but after I got there, I wished that I hadn’t wasted my time. That’s the same reaction that I have to websites with lousy writing.

    The best SEO is worthless if the writing is poor. Good article, Katie.

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