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January 16, 2012
Replace Junk SEO Content with Real Content
As we enter the year 2012, it amazes me that there's still the very incorrect belief that writing special pages filled with keyword-stuffed content is what SEO is all about. I talk to clients and potential clients every day who seem to think that SEO means writing something called "SEO content" on their websites. They don't know why they might need these pages — only that it's what they think they need to do to make Google happy.
So they write about superfluous stuff like the history of their products, which uses the right keyword phrases but never says anything useful. They essentially ignore the people who might be interested in purchasing their products or services and focus on search engines instead. 
But seriously, if you were looking to buy a certain product online, which page would you rather find on Google? The one that provides the benefits of the product and how it would help you better than the competitors' products would, along with the price, choice of color/size, information on how to purchase it, and an 'add to shopping cart' button? Or the one that tells the products' history?
Not too many people care about the origins of the products they're looking to buy. Yet a common (but incorrect) SEO recommendation is to add "history of ____" pages to websites for "SEO purposes." And we wonder why SEOs have such a bad name!
Confused and Relieved
I have to say that when I tell my clients that, no, they don't need to add junk content pages to their site, they're quite relieved. They just assume it's a necessary evil if they want to compete on the search engines. But it's really an unnecessary scheme invented by lazy SEOs who once saw junk like that work, so they duplicated the process and sold it as SEO. 
In fact, a whole cottage industry for "SEO content creation" has sprung up just to keep up the demand for useless junk content because so many people are confused into thinking that's what SEO is all about.
Let's step back for a moment and look at the difference between junk SEO content and real information provided on a site that is there regardless of SEO.
When your focus is SEO, it's likely you'll decide to write about the wrong things. You have to think about your target market, i.e., people, not search engines, when deciding what to write about. What sort of information would they need that would enhance the probability of them buying from you rather than your competitor? 
If knowing the history of your products is helpful to those people, then by all means, use that for content. But it's going to be the very rare product or service where this is the case. While your SEO consultant might try to convince you otherwise, always go with your own instincts when it comes to content creation. If something sounds like "fluff" to you, then it's going to sound the same to your potential customers.
Real Content for Real People
Your goal is to get into the minds of your potential buyers and figure out what their pain points might be. What might hinder them from buying a particular product? What might prevent them from buying it from you? Maybe they're not sure if the part will fit the gizmo that they are buying it for. Maybe they don't understand why the super deluxe version of the product is twice as much as the standard version. There's a perfect opportunity for good content! Write about the differences. Who would be best served by the deluxe model? How will the extra costs pay off in the long run? Heck, you could even put together a comparison chart or some sort of infographic if you have many different versions of a product.
Not only is that type of content useful to your target market, it will often show up in the search results for long-tail searches relating to the products mentioned within it. And if it's information that can't be found elsewhere, it's likely to be content that can garner links if you market it properly.
I hope I've helped you to banish the notion of having to add "SEO content" to your website. Work on the pages of your site that are there to sell your products or services and think about what additional content you need to better serve your target market. The more you can understand their needs, the more content you can provide them with, which will make them better informed and more likely to buy those products from you! 

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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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