Let’s just state the obvious – there are good and bad ways to go about search engine optimization (SEO).

Take keywords. Most businesses have a developed list of relevant industry keywords to insert into website copy for the purpose of bringing eyeballs to their content (and if you don’t, then you should). But there’s a good way to use keywords in content generation, and a very bad way.

Which of these sentences makes you want to read more?

“McGrath/Power Public Relations and Communications is a full-service public relations agency that offers media relations, social media, speaking programs, award programs, messaging development and public relations and communications counsel to help your B2B or B2C company achieve its business goals.”

OR

“McGrath/Power Public Relations and Communications helps companies achieve their business goals through effective storytelling.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather stay on a website and learn more about a company that opens with the latter. This statement offers helpful information that encourages me to continue reading. The former example attempts to fill the sentence with as many relevant keywords as possible – known as “keyword stuffing” – to boost organic page views and thus SEO performance. This is a painfully ineffective technique for several reasons.

First, developing your copy with an emphasis on including as many relevant keywords as possible, as many times as possible, results in uninteresting and potentially confusing content for your audience. As shown above, high keyword density certainly does not equal interesting content.

Second, stuffing with broad key terms to increase your organic page views, and thus your ranking in search engine results, will not necessarily increase sales. This technique isn’t targeted to the people and businesses that will care most about your products and solutions. Sure, people may be finding and looking at your website thanks to keyword stuffing, but if most of your company’s page views are from those who will never buy from you, then what’s really the point?

Third, keyword stuffing is penalized by many search engines – the polar opposite of what you set out to achieve. This policy has been enforced by search engines for years now, but it is astounding how many companies still rely heavily on repetition with the intention of driving traffic.

With all of this negativity, you may be questioning how valuable keywords actually are to SEO. Most of our clients use keywords on a regular basis, but they do so strategically. It’s not all or nothing here. It’s a balance.

Instead of filling your marketing collateral, including your website, with unrelated and/or repetitive keywords, turn your attention to the content. Develop high-quality content that addresses the interests and needs of your audience to drive views. Include a few keywords here or there – we’re certainly not advocating dropping keywords altogether – but keep the quality of content at the forefront.

If you write it well, they well come.