SEO Content – Text optimization by text expansion or re-writing?
When a website is going to be optimized for Google and other search engines the text passages on the individual pages are especially important. They have to namely demonstrate to Google the value they offer users. In many cases these texts already exist. Often though their content is too lean, as Google loves copy with depth. So the question arises: is it better to enhance these texts (text optimization), or start over and write new ones? After all a copy overhaul can be done more cost-effectively than having a completely new article written. We’ll take a look at whether that is true, and when which approach makes the most sense.
Before we begin:
We’d like to remind you what type of copy Google is especially fond of. It is important to know this to be able to decide on text optimization or rewriting.
Google loves copy with ….
… unique content
Unique is the magic word for search engine optimized texts. The less content there is on the Internet to compete with your content, the better it is for your website.
Even when your competition offers the same products or services, you can nevertheless still offer unique content. For example, supplement your product copy with practical tips for using the product. Obtain more detailed information about the production of the articles and then cite it. With service offerings you could, for instance, add client stories. The philosophy or idea behind your business is also an example of a kind content.
… added value
The readers of your copy should be getting something “more” from it. If you for example sell fabrics, then it would bring true added value if you make patterns available on your page. In general, how-to’s, tutorials, tips and tricks are ideal for creating added value.
We humans now assign certain thought processes to Google. We hardly ever spend much time anymore pondering the name of the actor who played character X in movie Y; we just ask the search engine. For this reason it endeavors to answer questions as well and precisely as possible. These answers come from websites. So if your copy answer questions competently and clearly, Google will then thank you for that with a good ranking.
(Learn more about this in our post: The Top Spot Guaranteed – Placement as a Featured Snippet on Google)
… intelligible words and sentences
Google also loves words that its readers immediately understand. The general rule is: the more simply formulated, the better. Of course the use of foreign words and technical terms depends on your target audience. Where appropriate, technical terms can certainly appear.
In addition, you should also avoid very long (compound) words. The Google algorithm recognizes them and classifies them as difficult to understand.
Take care to use clearly formulated sentences that are not too long. Process a maximum of two thoughts in a single sentence.
Transition phrases are also very important, so that the reader can better follow the text flow.
Tip: Especially on the subject of sentence length, a pitfall is waiting when it comes to copy expansion. In the section Text Relevance is Not the Same as Text Length” you’ll find out what it is.
… clear structure
A Copy with short paragraphs and a sensible segmentation using subheadings makes search engines happy. Charts, lists and bullet points are also welcome as a way of presenting information more effectively and appealingly.
… keywords and synonyms
Keywords reveal to the search engine what the text is about. These keywords need to appear in a frequency that makes sense.
It is rumored that Google prefers a keyword density of 1 to 3 percent. In a text with 500 words, the keyword would show up 5 to 15 times. However these values are not carved in stone. Copy with a very different keyword density can also appear quite high up in a Google ranking.
Synonyms for the keywords should also appear in the text. Always pay attention to the context when doing so. If your site has to do with the subject of “dancing” here the keyword “ball” and its synonyms are used in a different context than on a sports website.
Tip:We’ll tell you how to find your bearings with keyword density in the section „Poor Keyword Distribution“.
Internal and external links are also something that Google appreciates. However, these links, just like keywords, are to be utilized thoughtfully. The search engine is not a fan of exaggeration.
… graphics, videos, etc.
Explanatory graphics, descriptive images or videos that pertain to the text content are also important for Google. They demonstrate that the content has been prepared with various mediums. They are a sign of an especially in-depth engagement with the subject, and are therefore interpreted as high-quality content.
Google loves short copy that is helpful to the user
With the aid of algorithms, search engines determine:
- Sentence construction
- Word length
- Text structure
- Keywords and synonyms
- Text content
- Graphic and other elements
- Length of stay
From all these variables Google determines how well the content fits the search query and how well the text is accepted by the user. Content that is difficult to understand generates a high bounce rate. With content of similar quality, the more easily understood copy always ranks higher.
There are surely still tricks out there to move content-poor websites to a high Google position. However, the search engine is always learning. These tricks will soon no longer be enough, so you should make good content available from the start. In this way your website is also prepared for the future.
We’ll reveal now whether you need new copy to do this, or can simply expand your existing text.
Text optimization by text expansion or re-writing?
1. The Problem
A website has been created. Design and functionality are adequate and the copy is already short and of high quality. But it is just not happening with the Google ranking position. For this reason an SEO expert is called in to help. Besides a couple of notes about links and metatags, he quickly brings up the topic of the copy:
„The texts on the individual website pages need more content, and the keyword density is not optimal.“
What to do then?
2. The Idea
Initially, the target keywords per web page are counted and the operator of the Internet presence decides to use more of them. In addition, appropriate synonyms for each target keyword are researched. The operator once read somewhere that short texts don’t rank well on Google, so he decides to invest in text optimization and to have all the copy lengthened. Each text passage per web page should comprise at least 1,000 words.
3. The Execution
A freelance copywriter is hired to lengthen all short texts – of course keeping them contextually relevant. In addition, the keywords must be incorporated into the copy expansion, and kept within the magical 1 to 3 percent framework. And don’t forget the synonyms!
4. The Result
Everything is implemented, but the rankings of the individual website pages hardly change.
5. The Causes:
Text Relevance is Not the Same as Text Length
Yes, there are a lot of statistics available online about how well long copy rank in comparison to short copy. What these statistics don’t cite: There are also short texts that perform better on Google than long texts.
At first it seems logical that Google would “think” there was more content in a longer text than in a short one. However, not every subject is suitable for expansion in a contextually relevant manner. For that reason sentence structures that produce a lot of words without offering more substance are often used.
The customers can be surveyed. (5 words)
Of course it is possible to conduct surveys with customers. (10 Words)
Of course it’s not impossible to not only just consider a customer survey, but also actually conduct one. (18 Words)
Because Google checks sentence structure though this kind of “trick” can quickly backfire. Think about how much relevant content can really be compiled. The relevance will be determined by your target audience’s expectations, and by the context of your Internet presence.
If it is simply not possible to write 1,000 words about service X, then 500 will have to suffice. The main point is that the content fulfills the requirements, and that the copy doesn’t seem inflated.
Poor Keyword Distribution
Because the keyword guidelines are only valid for the new text passages – the old copy remains unchanged – a strange distribution ensues. There are quite a few keywords in the new paragraphs, and in the old copy there are hardly any.
The old 300 word copy includes one keyword.
The text should be expanded to 1,000 words and then contain a total of 21 keywords.
The remaining 20 keywords have to then be placed in the 700 words of additional text.
In addition long or unusual keywords interfere with the reading flow. If for example in a 500 word text the keyword phrase “lab result analysis” is supposed to appear 15 times, the reader is going to trip over it 15 times. Even if you require synonyms like “laboratory analysis” or “lab result evaluation,” you will exasperate the reader.
Too many keywords also lead to meaningless phrases, where the only point is to accommodate the keyword in the copy.
In general the keyword frequency should be subordinate to the content. Solid data and an appealing style carry greater weight than a keyword density of 1 to 3 percent.
Tip: Do you want to better gauge necessary keyword density? Then search Google for well-placed copy on the same topic as yours. Count the keywords you find and you’ll have a good indicator for your text.
Text Expansion Leads to Repetition
An existing text commonly becomes redundant through expansion. If everything about a company is already included in the original copy, then it is almost impossible to add paragraphs that convey new information. What has already been said is simply reformulated. But to what extent Google recognizes these content repetitions and possibly punishes them, is not certain. It is safe to assume though that the search engine will not like it.
A further reason could be a style difference in the expanded copy. If the additional text doesn’t correspond to the style of the original text, it gives the impression of unprofessionalism. The reader will unconsciously notice the breach. Google certainly won’t take offense to this, but it could shorten visitors’ length of stay. This in turns leads to a ranking downgrade.
6. The Better Way
If the current text length on the website is not sufficient, it is tempting to expand the content by a couple of paragraphs. It is inexpensive because freelance copywriters are usually paid by the word. In addition, it’s also a faster process, because not as much new copy needs to be written.
Tempting! Text optimization rather text expansion seems to be cheaper and more quickly drafted.
As was explained under “5. The Causes”, text expansions rarely lead to the desired result. Even when you explicitly request a contextually relevant expansion from your copywriter, it can’t always be guaranteed. There are simply topics that just don’t lend themselves to more content than is already contained in the original text.
It’s better to have the article written anew. This allows the copywriter to incorporate new content based on the old text and/or supplement the old text meaningfully. In addition, the entire copy is then from a single source.
Oddly enough new copy is drafted more quickly than a text expansion. The copywriter can namely concentrate entirely on the new article. This is similar to a defective computer operating system. It is faster to reinstall it than spend hours looking for the problem.
In addition, it’s easier to incorporate keywords. The author can distribute them sensibly throughout the entire text. He doesn’t have to make sure he squeezes them into the text expansion so that at the end the total keyword number is correct.
When a Text Expansion and When New Copy – the Answer!
Text expansions are always an option in those spots where each text stands on its own. This is the case with, for example, an FAQ, glossary or lexicon.
In all other cases you should search for a good copywriter, create an exact briefing, and have new copy written.
Our Final Tip: How to End Up with the Ideal SEO Text
No one outside of Google knows all the parameters that lead to a good website ranking. So don’t accept recommendations from SEO gurus unquestioningly. Put yourself in the shoes of your most critical user. What does this typical “complainer” wants to find on your website? How extensive should the information be?
If you can satisfy an extremely critical user, you’ll also be able to please Google.