Some Stunning Examples of Terrible SEO Copywriting

Some Stunning Examples of Terrible SEO Copywriting (Source: - used as royalty free image)

Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to get your business noticed online; creating personal, branded content helps you stand out in a crowded field, improving your name recognition and brand loyalty while also literally making it easier to find your business on search engines like Google or Bing.

But not all content is created equally, and plenty of the search engine optimized (SEO) content out there is actually doing more harm than good.

Whether written out of laziness or a cynical desire to game the search engines, these three examples of bad SEO content will make you run, screaming, for your nearest copywriter:

1.) The Backlink Bandit

This search result for toilet repair highlights one of the worst elements of bad SEO: It’s unintelligible! Sure, those may all technically be English words, but the way in which they’re mashed together is about as far as you can get from proper grammar.

And the real issue isn’t even really that the grammar isn’t perfect; certainly, there can be substantive, informative writing that comes with a split infinitive or a dangling participle. Instead, the problem is that this word mush is utterly useless, on top of being impossible to read. Even if you can parse the gibberish, the only thing you might learn is that… um… sometimes you need to call a plumber?

Our best professional guess is that this source post is an example of content created by a machine or an algorithm, designed to funnel backlinks to another site rather than actually create any real value for a reader. In addition to the wild and wonky copy itself, one big tip-off that this is essentially spam is that the Wordpress blog that hosts this content… literally has no other posts to its name. We have to imagine that this is the product of a content farm, designed to push out content and create backlinks to bolster the credibility (and search rankings) of some other site. This is blackhat SEO 101, and, as we’ve discussed before, it doesn’t work.

2.) The Content Spinner

Look familiar? Doesn’t that random, garbled phrasing look a lot like the random, garbled phrasing above, with a few minor tweaks?

This content was taken from a completely different Wordpress site, albeit one with a very similar URL and posting history (i.e., one solitary post, published in the month of May).  Not only does the existence of this lookalike content reinforce our belief that our first example is auto-generated, but these two pieces work in tandem to highlight one of the craziest blackhat SEO tactics out there: “content spinning.”

This post is a perfect example! Content spinning (also called “article spinning”) is the industry term for content that essentially plagiarizes another source, switching out a few words or sentences here and there to theoretically throw Google’s crawlers off the scent.

Rather than using a human writer, however (which would at least allow for a more sophisticated level of plagiarism, we guess), much of the content in this category is just systematically restructured and churned out by machines – hence why that prose reads as anything but natural. Ready-made content like this is nothing but virtual noise; it’s unhelpful clutter that gives all online content a bad name.

3.) The Keyword Stuffer

This Geek favorite was brought to our attention by Thrillist editor and Twitter star Matt Patches. In addition to bringing the truly magnificent phrase “hoping against odds” into our lives, this snippet highlights one of our core beliefs here – that you should always write for humans first, and machines second.

This sample was created with the reverse in mind, and it shows. Clearly, this was written for the sake of stuffing as many keywords into a piece of content as possible; we call this “keyword stuffing,” and, at this point, it is a tactic that will actually do your brand more harm than good. For one thing, it reflects very poorly on your name and reputation for your content to be confusing and artificial-sounding. For another, there is every reason to believe that attempting to game the system could now actually damage your ranking results, making your content harder to find in the first place. It’s a lose-lose!

Ready to get started with real, quality content that creates value for users and leads for your brand? Our team of content creation experts knows what it takes to find and reach audiences online today. Drop us a line to get the conversation started!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).