The order of keywords as they are expected to be typed in search is the next big wave of keyword manipulation and theory. In the content you write for yourself you probably follow your gut (and acknowledge that great content is worth more than gobbledygook), but if you supply others with content you may be asked to perform the impossible.
Many clients want keyword content written to their specified keyword phrases, with the words in exact order and no additional words or punctuation in between. This is fine if you can do it and still be comprehensible, but sometimes these requests are impossible to comply with and still retain any fragment of proper grammar or understandability.
It’s a thin line to walk. I don’t want to turn down clients, but seriously… if they would actually check out the facts, Google purposely doesn’t even recognize capitalization, punctuation and even ‘stop’ words like a, an, is, the, it, can, and for. None of these are commonly taken into account for search. You do want to have the keywords in the order specified, but there is no harm in breaking them up to make your content readable.
Clients will also tell you to rewrite articles by just mixing up the paragraphs and substituting synonyms throughout to try and make it look like a different article. You might get good enough at it to fool a search engine temporarily, but people on the whole will be able to tell. These clients don’t really care about the quality of the content – they just want their keywords in some sort of vehicle, they want it cheap and they want it now. Usually they are just trying to get websites up and running for ad revenue only, and want web traffic just for clicks.
At some point you have to decide if you want to keep working for a client who is going to insist in substandard content to coincide with their idea of SEO, or if you are going to turn down the job to maintain the integrity of your work. If you are ghostwriting, no-one will know you wrote it so you can’t be held accountable if it is awful…
Serious webmasters, however, will understand that the pitfall of focusing on keywords alone is just as bad as directing all your attention towards linking. You want your content to contain keywords, and you want your page to receive links – but ultimately the best way to build traffic to your site is by providing consumers with the information that they want, presented in a way they can understand.
This is Google’s aim as well – if the sites that pop up on Google have the reputation for being irrelevant or unhelpful, consumers might try searching through Yahoo or Microsoft Live instead. Why do you think Google has all these algorithms, anyway? They want people to get what they need when they search for it, without wading through pages of stuff designed solely for traffic and nothing else.
It comes down, in the end, to ‘the customer is always right‘…but maybe a few of them will read this and realize that readable content is king, and keyword stuffed dreck is just the court jester – good for a laugh, but no-one takes him seriously!