Eva van Emden, Freelance Editor

Certified Copy Editor and Proofreader


March 7, 2011

Excessive search engine optimization

I just ran across a great example of what can happen when the quest for search engine optimization gets out of hand in “30 Spooky Freelancing Practices.”

First of all, the whole “spooky” and “scary” angle was obviously chosen because the author was told that around October 29, when this article went online, those are some of the most frequently used search terms. Never mind whether any of the people who are searching for scary, spooky things are going to be interested in an article about freelancing.

Once you’ve chosen some hot keywords that you think people will be searching for, you include them in your article as often as possible. It’s here that the author of this particular article may have gone overboard a little. She writes, “A chill always goes up the back of my spine whenever I read about a freelancer engaging in any of these bad freelancing practices because I know that these practices can really harm a freelancing business” (emphasis mine). In a 36-word sentence, variations of “freelance” (freelancer, freelancing) appear three times, “practices” appears twice, and as a bonus, the juicy keyword phrases “bad freelancing practices” and “freelancing business” are included. This sentence may be a great search optimizer, but it’s repetitive; my fingers itch to remove “bad freelancing” from “bad freelancing practices,” substitute “they” for “these practices,” and “the business” for “a freelancing business.”

Does it work? I don’t know whether writing like this will bring a million hits to your site, and how many people will stay after they notice how much you’ve slanted your writing to catch hits. I do notice, however, that I’ve managed to incorporate some great keywords into my blog today. I’ll let you know if I get a million hits.

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