New and Improved World of Copywriting: Content in the Realm of Penguin and Panda
So much has changed for SEO professionals and website owners in such a relatively short amount of time. One week everyone was gathering up links and jamming in keywords for search engine optimization and then suddenly it was all gone – rankings, quality, traffic and profits.
But the world of ecommerce and online information is never completely down and out, and if you’ve run a tight ship up to this point, you may have been rocked by the big waves from the ongoing Google updates, but you didn’t capsize. It’s likely you were already on the right track with high quality content and copy.
But for those who were submerged under the waves of change, your best bet for a saving grace is simple – excellent content.
The New and Improved World of Copywriting
The Big Hits to Content Quality
There were two big hits from Google in an effort to clean up the internet and its search results. The first big hit was to content - Panda. According to Google’s own official post on the subject:
This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.
There have been aftershocks from Panda, of course, as things continue to tweak and change over time, but the message was clear – even if you have decent content, it’s not enough. You need excellent material.
The second big hit from Google came a few months after Panda. Penguin arrived to clean up the search engine optimization for websites. This time, Google explained:
Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.
The bottom line here was content stuffed with keywords, long-tail keywords used in unnatural ways and aggressive link-building were all penalized. Again, much of this had to do with how the words on the web page were structured.
Learning to Write Again
For years, there were different degrees of writing for websites. The top sites were always more focused on quality material that was written to inform readers, encourage repeat visitors and become an authority on a particular topic or niche.
Even the ecommerce websites that functioned at this level were written with the actual consumer in mind – the one buying things, not the one searching for things on Google.
The middle and bottom tier of internet content shared a similar trait. It was often keywords stuffed with a magical percentage of keyword use – perhaps 2 – 5 percent, and often the keywords were unnatural fits for the passage.
In an effort to get as many keywords on the page as possible, these articles and blog posts were written quickly, often without any depth and, sadly, many times almost completely scraped or copied from another website.
While there was a bit of a shake-up for those websites using top quality content with the updates over the last year, it was the middle and bottom tier sites that felt the impact most strongly. Many of them dropped off the search engine results and haven’t come back again.
The take-away lesson from this year of ups and downs (mostly downs) in the world of ecommerce and SEO is simple – write what both your website visitors and Google wants to see. It’s actually pretty close to the same thing.
Create Engaging, Unique Material
The first step is to write something new. Take a new perspective on a tired topic, or create something totally interesting and relevant that is not covered or barely covered somewhere else.
Rather than trying to work mathematical formulas as you’re writing to generate the exact right number of matches for keywords and links in your text, simply write. Write the feature article or the landing page with an eye on the consumer. This will create a natural keyword distribution and make your customers more likely to remain on your page.
Include Relevant Links
Linking out from your text is natural. This is why guest posts on other blogs are now the most effective way to gain quality SEO results. As you link out from your own blog, choose your anchors with half an eye on the keyword, but with the other half of your eye on what would actually help your reader find the relevant information.
Write in Multiple Places
Not only should you have frequently updated, interesting text on your own website, but you should also be updating websites elsewhere with guest blogs, regular features and newsletter blurbs when you can.
These marketing strategies not only showcase that interesting, unique writing you have, but it also gives you two opportunities for traffic. The first is the backlinks generated to your own site are ideal in the new version of SEO.
The other is that traffic from the host blog or website will visit your site naturally since it’s relevant to their interests.
Digging a site out of the sandbox after these updates takes a considerable amount of time. Since it’s been almost a year since the first shockwaves went out through the SERPs, it’s not a surprise that many website owners are approaching recovery and starting new projects.
If those new projects are to be ultimately successful in the eyes of Google, however, they must continue to feature outstanding and relevant content both on site, off site and through effective use of social media.
Whether you’re writing a website on online marketing in San Diego or creating the next big thing in leather handbags in New York, content is (and likely always will be) king.