Google threw the SEO efforts of the content writing world a huge curve ball with the implementation of the Penguin update. Many were still thanking their lucky stars after the Panda update of April 2011 only to be wiped out from utilizing too much search engine optimization within their content.
What did this mean for everyone else?
It meant taking the art of content writing back to its very roots: writing for people, not spiders. It meant that many people who had spent thousands of dollars for SEO link building services were suddenly in the dark.
Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team said it best in his latest interview,
"..People understand good content, research, unique content with value is essential to SEO... sites that have social sharing, natural sharing – instead of buying links – are generally not going to be hit. By next year, we hope marketers/ webmasters get that and natural linkbuilding [sic] becomes the norm.."
So does this mean search engine optimization is out of the question for content writers? Absolutely not! Google actually encourages good SEO to help enhance both the user experience and the quality of writing presented within the content they see. It’s the Google formula for success, and it’s the reason their users have come to trust them since their inception.
Keyword Optimization + Original Content = Relevant TrafficSuccessful content writing lives and dies on proper keyword optimization. I mean think about it, how many of you can write an article on the newest pair of Nike’s and beat out Nike on the SERP’s? This means you have to choose your SEO competitors wisely, and that starts in Google’s keyword tool. For those who do not already have a high page rank on the search engines you will want to concentrate on medium competition keywords for your content, not the high or low.
I already know what you’re thinking so I’ll tell you why you don’t go for the low competition traffic with 2,000,000 monthly searches. You’ll either be up against too broad of a term to ever beat out the sites on the front of the SERP’s (I mean seriously, you’d have to have the writing skills of Steven King and the SEO skills of Aaron Wall to create that level of content), or you’ll be dealing with long tail keyword phrases like “me like a me them new Nike Zooms”. Try integrating that into your content enough times for Google to recognize that as your main keyword phrase.
Creating your Content OutlineSo you’ve selected the keyword you feel confident will be the goose that lays the golden egg for you. Now what? Good SEO is synonymous with good structure. Any copy writer worth their salt will tell you just as much. Start with your main keyword for the niche you are writing the content for. Make a list of all the industry terms you can think of, both antonyms and synonyms. These will be your main keywords support. Remember what I said earlier? Good SEO relies in providing rich original content for your reader.
So by compiling these words you will have an arsenal of industry slang that users will be searching Google for. Too many people believe using the main keyword a hundred times is optimizing it for the search engines when in reality the moment Googlebot crawls their site they’re sitting 100,000 pages back in the SERP’s. Use your main keyword sparingly and your supporting keywords to help maintain your contents relevance.
Headings Can Kill Your SEO EffortsYour content writing can easily live or die through grammatical errors such as improper heading structure. Now Google isn’t anal when it comes to grammar/ spelling errors, but skipping from a heading 1 to a heading 3 or a heading 2 to a heading 4 will set off red flags that will surely hurt your SEO efforts. Going in reverse is fine as it’s grammatically correct.
Google Loves Ordered/ Unordered ListProviding relevant original content is only half of Google’s formula for success. The other half, as previously stated, lay in providing their search base the best user experience possible for the results they provide. Here are a few reasons why you should be including bullet points in your writing:
- Both lists demonstrate structure
- Both list help pinpoint relevant content vital to their users needs
- Bullet points are now shown in search results proving the added strength ordered and unordered list lend to your SEO efforts in the eyes of Google
Gain SEO Points For Acronym Meta TagsCopy writers who market offline don’t have the added luxury online content writers are afforded when it comes to sharing the meaning of a particular acronym to their marketing base. The acronym meta tag not only provides the better user experience Google aims to deliver its search base, but simultaneously enhances your search engine optimization efforts by delivering the acronyms proper terminology when the user hovers their mouse’s cursor over it. Here’s an example:
<acronym title=”Search Engine Optimization”>SEO</acronym> = SEO
Hint - Place your cursor over SEO to see the acronym.
Final Thoughts For Content Writing SuccessToo many people have erroneously confused search engine optimization with manipulation. The sole purpose behind Google’s algorithm is to provide good solid writing that provides the user with both unique and original content. Think really hard for one second. When was the last time you searched a specific keyword or phrase and Google took you to a front page where the top websites were spam? Make no mistake, Google is one of the most artificially intelligent designs in existence. Even more so since implementing the Panda and Penguin updates. It would be better for you to write one solid and well thought out piece of literature that is rich in content, both for SEO and user success, than to write 10 weak articles that no one will want to read. At this point the user will immediately click back on their browser and go somewhere they feel actually deserves their time.
Google keeps detailed records of where searchers go even after they have entered a website. If they click your search result and are gone in 2 seconds flat your site is clearly demonstrating to Google that your content isn’t worth doo doo and perhaps you’re not actually as relevant to that search after all. It’s called your bounce rate and I’d advise everyone to read it and figure out a way to keep users moving through to at least one other page on your website to maintain its balance. If you hold true to the Google formula for success your writing assignments will become an arsenal of marketing firepower.
Bonus Tip Too Maximize Article Success RateAnyone who has heard of ad blindness knows it as the effect of automatically tuning out the ads after years of online exposure. Well we’ve now stepped into the age of “Social Media Blindness.” We easily tune out the social media buttons when we read an article without even thinking about it. So here’s an easy solution to remedy that problem and provide you with not only well honed SEO power for the search engines, but the greatest opportunity to gain maximum exposure for your blog post and articles. Are you ready for this?
Ask. It’s that simple. Many people will have no problems helping you out if you Simply ask your readers to click them. It’s called permission marketing. Your basically stating that you need their help and that you are dependent on them for your success. Not only that, but make sure you ask at the end of the post or they may forget. To take it one step further put it under its own heading (with a heading that is integrate to your article’s focus), figure out a way to use your keyword and a few synonyms and antonyms that are actually relevant to the content you have written and slide it right in there. “Please take a moment to share my post on your social media. It’s only takes you two seconds but would mean the world to me. Thank you so much.” Voila, instant win.