Four features of cheap SEO content

For many years, cheap content worked and so high quality content wasn’t really valued. People simply weren’t willing to invest more than a couple of pounds per article and so this gave rise to a whole industry where foreign providers exploited the lower cost of living in their country. They employed writers for low pay who would then churn out content that just about passed as English. Everyone was a winner. Oh, except web users, who were forced to interpret web pages that were often spectacularly badly written.

Recent Google updates have started to change this, but there are still many people working in web marketing who are struggling to adapt and who are still looking to buy content at rates that are simply unrealistic. Generally speaking, if content is ridiculously cheap, it is going to be poor.

If your own language skills aren’t up to evaluating the quality of the content you have bought, here are four features of cheap SEO content that you might like to look out for. You might not notice them, but many of your users will.

1. Americanisms

If you have a UK website, then you should use British English. Certain phrases are obvious, like ‘cell phone’ or ‘vacation’ but watch out for American spellings as well, such as ‘color’, ‘jewelry’ and ‘humor’. Also, although ‘-ize’ endings (such as in ‘recognize’) are technically acceptable in British English, many readers will associate them with American English where ‘-ise’ is never used.

2. Lists

If you’re trying to bang out a 200-word article in 20 minutes to meet your targets, you’re looking for any way to swiftly and easily bump up the word count. Many writers resort to listing products or categories from the website they are writing on behalf of.

E.g. “If you’re looking for games, we have action games, adventure games, arcade games, car games, motorbike games, puzzle games, casino games, sports games, platform games, strategy games, shooting games, etc.”

This reads really badly. Any more than three or four different products or services is too many.

3. Indian English errors

There are a great many exceptional Indian writers. However, none of them work for £3 an article. When you pay those sorts of sums, you can expect to see certain errors which are commonly seen in Indian English, such as:

  • ‘Reputed’ instead of ‘reputable’.
  • ‘Equipments’ and other pluralised mass nouns.
  • ‘Very essential’ – something is either essential or it’s not. There aren’t different degrees.
  • Unnecessary use of the word ‘forward’. E.g. ‘So, if you are looking forward to have absolute privacy in your room’.
  • ‘Would’ in place of ‘will’, introducing an unnecessary element of conditionality. E.g. ‘We would ensure that you are entirely happy with your purchase’ – to which I always find myself asking: ‘But…?’
  • Omission of ‘a’ or ‘the’. This creates a particular problem when combined with ‘few’. E.g. ‘I have a few things to do’ and ‘I have few things to do’ have completely different meanings.

4. Jarring keywords

If you see a very specific phrase shoe-horned into a sentence or the same few words cropping up repeatedly then someone is applying an outdated approach to optimising their web copy.


When it comes to the written word, quality isn’t a black or white thing. There’s no divide. All content lies somewhere in the large grey area between being flawless and unreadable and it’s up to you to decide what you’re happy with.

However, if you decide to adopt Google’s current standards, be aware that they could change in the future. Just because your site content appears to be acceptable at present, it doesn’t mean that the search engine’s threshold won’t be raised in the future. It has never yet been lowered and the features of cheap SEO content highlighted above might prove to be the kinds of signals that will be used to identify low quality content in years to come.