Google are constantly tweaking their algorithms to make sure search results are relevant. It’s the job of SEO analysts to stay ahead of the game, and it’s the job of SEO copywriters to interpret their requirements. If you hire a freelance writer like me to help with article marketing, you need to ensure they know about Google’s Penguin update.

So what’s Penguin?

In a bid to weed out poor-quality web content, Google have repackaged some of their ranking criteria to get tough on underhand techniques. This new release could have profound implications for your website and any article marketing campaigns you might be running. In fact, if you have blogs and articles on your website, you may already have been penalised for bad practice.

If you use articles for marketing and SEO purposes, you need to urgently review the content you’re paying for and make sure your writers know about the new rules.

Article marketing = quality copywriting

When given a list of keywords, a bad SEO copywriter will stuff those keywords into the article, link titles and ALT tags over and over until the content becomes unreadable. Better copywriters naturally incorporate keywords into the content. (Not sure what keyword stuffing looks like? WebProNews has some good examples on their blog).

A top-notch freelance SEO writer knows how to weave keywords into concepts, ensuring that each word or phrase always appears among relevant, meaningful sentences. That provides real value to the reader, and that’s what Google like to see.

The Penguin update places greater emphasis on well-crafted content. Keywords should be supported by related terms. It’s no longer about packing as many keywords into your text as possible, or repeating keywords a certain number of times. And it’s no longer good enough to rely on a poor copywriter for good SEO.

For your article marketing to be truly successful, you need to ensure your SEO copywriter can write to a good standard, research topics thoroughly and gain a solid understanding of the subject before they start to write. This means they will promote related terms among your keywords, giving the copy a more natural feel and pleasing your readers.

(If your article writer is any good, they will already be doing this.)

Duplication and stealing content

Tempted to re-use copy from Wikipedia or ‘borrow’ it from a competitor? Not only is this easy to spot, it will tarnish your reputation if you get caught out. A good SEO copywriter can come up with an original page of content on your chosen topic in a few hours. In fact, we can write a small website for under £100, so cost need not be a barrier. There is no reason to steal content from elsewhere when having your own original content is pretty affordable.

Emphasis needs to be natural

When I started taking on SEO content assignments, I was often asked to bold certain words a few times on each page or place them in italics. This kind of keyword emphasis looks cheap and scruffy, but it’s also bad for readability. Once you notice the writer doing this kind of bolding in a blog post, you know that the real purpose of the content is to attract search engines – not humans.

Again, it’s a question of context. Don’t do anything that looks strange when putting together blogs for article marketing. If it looks weird to you as a reader, it will probably count against you.

Don’t publish unfinished content

There’s nothing more irritating than finding the content you need, clicking a link and discovering the page isn’t ready. ‘Under Construction’ gifs are thankfully (mostly) a thing of the past, but empty pages do still crop up on websites. One of the biggest culprits are small business owners who set up blogs and leave them blank because they don’t have time to write anything.

Don’t be tempted to publish empty pages, and don’t allow key pages to go online with less than 300 words of content. If the copy for your site isn’t ready, drop us a line. We’ll often create the content for an entire site within a week, and we can create a block of articles for marketing purposes which you can then schedule to run over the coming weeks and months.

A word from the experts

Google have published four basic principles to ensure your content is top notch. You can read about them here, but I’ll paraphrase quickly:

First, make sure your content is written for users; in other words, hire a good copywriter who can write engaging articles and blogs that are actually worth reading.

Second, don’t try to cheat by inserting hidden links and strange keyword phrasing. If it looks weird, take it out.

Third, don’t try to manipulate your PageRank by using underhand linking techniques. Don’t pay for links either. Use article marketing and ghost blogging to get organic links from other sites.

Finally, don’t use programs that auto-submit your content to Google.

With good quality content, a well-organised XML site map and a solid article marketing strategy, there should be no need to rely on techniques that will cause problems with your SEO.

Article Marketing
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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley has been a technical author and web content writer at Red Robot since 2010. She contributes to dozens of websites, focusing on consumer technology, online privacy, digital marketing, and small business topics.
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