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How Bad Is Fluff Content for SEO Rankings?

Every lawyer can think of a colleague whose writing style is hard to follow and whose email could still make all their relevant points if they were half their current length. High school and college English teachers wave The Elements of Style in students’ faces and exhort them to write like Ernest Hemingway and George Orwell. Some of them would even disapprove of the word “exhort” and urge you to find an Anglo-Saxon synonym for it. Lawyers know the value of the economy of speech, both in oral communication and in written documents. When it comes to web content, though, the verbosity tends to come out, even in the most skilled writers. Perhaps it is because pages are just pixels on a screen, so being wordy doesn’t kill more trees than getting to the point. Maybe it is because seeing the word count add up on the corner of the window on your word processing application gives you a sense of accomplishment, much as racking up fractions of miles on a treadmill does. No matter the reason, fluff content is ubiquitous online, even in legal blog content, and while Google doesn’t seem to mind it, it deters prospective clients.

More Keywords, Less Time on Page

Barry Schwartz of SE Roundtable defines fluff content as content that is repetitive without repeating previous content verbatim, so that Google does not recognize it as duplicate content. According to Schwartz, not only does Google not penalize pages that contain fluff, it often ranks them highly. He hypothesizes that this is because Google’s bots do not know that the paraphrases of previously stated points do not add new information to the page; this is just one of the ways that bots, for all their ability to emulate the tone of Kafka’s Metamorphosis lack a human-like understanding of language.

Paradoxically, Google’s bots recognize concise, informative text; they make rich snippets out of it. The trouble is that they cannot tell whether the rest of the content on the page adds important details and context or simply restates the snippet in slightly different words. Google may think that the content is well written, in the sense of free of grammatical errors, and it may reward you for using a wide variety of keywords.

Human readers, however, recognize fluff when they see it. When they read two whole paragraphs without learning anything that the rich snippet did not already tell them, they will become impatient and navigate away from the page. Time on page is one of many metrics that determine the SEO ranking of a web page; Google rewards pages that readers find informative enough to read all the way to the end. In this regard, fluff content will count against you for SEO rankings.

All Informative Content, No Fluff

You can always trust the professional legal content writers at Law Blog Writers to deliver fluff-free blog posts, landing pages, guest posts, and page content for your law firm’s website.