Google has launched its latest algorithm change, affecting how online content is ranked by Google. It’s called Penguin and it will not only have an impact on the ranking results, but also it will affect how SEO copywriters go about their business. Or will it?
This post will take you through the changes and how the process of SEO copywriting might be affected.
Google’s Penguin update has been called the “webspam” or “over-optimisation update” by the internet masses and for good reason.
Google is now targeting spammy websites that try to beat the system and produce rubbish content in the process. That content clogs up search results and diminishes the quality of results people get from Google. At least that’s what Google says and I agree. I personally hate clicking what looks like a promising link only to find a keyword-stuffed fluff piece with no substance and lots of links to other rubbish sites.
When it comes to SEO copywriting, a great place to start is Google’s quality guidelines.
An SEO copywriter does what?
SEO copywriting is the process of making sure that search engines know what your website or blog post is about so they can match your content to online queries being entered. An SEO copywriter maximises the use of certain keywords while still creating an engaging and valuable experience for your visitor.
Compelling content is king
“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines,’ Google says in the Basic Principles section of the quality guidelines. So Google have always placed value on the user experience but Google’s Penguin update makes it even more important to ensure you don’t compromise that experience with your SEO copywriting efforts.
Keyword stuffing is a no-no – although, to be honest, it’s always been a no-no in my books.
Achieving a particular keyword density in your SEO copywriting can quickly lead to unnatural-sounding copy so you’re much better off measuring keyword frequency over keyword density.
Think around your keyword topics
Google says you need to “think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.” Generally speaking it’s good to focus on one or two keywords per webpage or blog post so you don’t baffle Google with a mishmash of topics. Good SEO copywriters look beyond these phrases and Google’s Penguin update places much more importance on the use of related keywords in SEO copywriting.
Related keywords are words and phrases semantically related to the keyword topic you want to rank for. Using related keywords adds depth to your copywriting and relevancy to the topic you’re writing about and both these things add credibility to your optimisation. Related keywords have always been part of Google’s ranking algorithm but Google’s Penguin update will place even more importance on related keywords as it measures how much value you’re offering your reader, and thus how relevant you are to searches.
Your SEO copywriting needs to be natural. It needs to be compelling. You need to offer value or your copy just won’t be on Google’s radar.
Giving your keywords some POP
Formatting various words and phrases has always been a good way to make them stand out to readers and search engines but if you’re only highlighting your keywords then you’re offering little value to the reader.
The Penguin update doesn’t change the fact that highlighting (bolding, italicising and underlining) is a positive influence on your SEO copywriting but you should highlight whole phrases and sentences instead of just keywords.
Remember – choose readability over SEO.
Consider how you use anchor text in your links
Anchor text is the text you turn into a hyperlink, taking your visitor to another webpage or blog post. Creating links to other pages and blog posts on your site is a fantastic way to keep visitors clicking and reading your content.
Google notices the anchor text in your links and for an SEO copywriter they’ve traditionally been a great place to use your keywords. They still are but the Penguin update means that you should use not only your keywords but related keywords as well in your link anchor text.
Good SEO copywriting practices
Personally, Google’s Penguin update doesn’t change the way I approach SEO copywriting.
I will still use related keywords because they are a natural part of writing compelling copy.
I will still use highlighting and subheadings to make the copy easy to skim.
I will still choose the reader over the search engines.
Glenn Murray – author of some super ebooks on SEO copywriting – says, “Write quality, and you won’t have to optimise it much”. This also applies to how much you’ll be affected by Google’s Penguin updates. If you’re an SEO copywriter who looks for quick ranking over actual value then you’re probably in for a bumpy ride. It’s time to reskill and get with the program!
It’s important to remember that the process of effective search engine optimisation is so much more than simply on-site optimisation (optimising your website or blog copy).
Next week I’m chatting to Chris Bates from Octoply and he’s going to talk us all through the other things you need to consider if you are serious about SEO and how Google’s Penguin update will affect you. Until then, make it relevant and compelling, people!
PS If you think you’ve been wrongfully hit by the Penguin update, Google has a form you can fill out to let them know.