Article marketing: does your SEO copywriter know the rules?

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

Web copywriting: The best 404 pages, pinned

Most of our web copywriting projects don’t include any copy for the 404 page, but maybe we should think about writing some in future! Fresh from this week’s Popbitch newsletter, here’s a Pinterest board from Matthew Keys featuring the best ‘Page Not Found’ web page copy from sites all over the world.

I love the playable Pac Man game on the Blue Fountain Media website, but the text on the Huwshimi and Hootsuite 404 pages is great too.

Maybe it’s time we started including error pages in our web copywriting quotes?

http://pinterest.com/producermatthew/best-404-pages/ (Via Popbitch)

Incidentally, this week’s Popbitch features a shout out for the web design services of Northern Comfort. We agree: Rob is ace. If you need help with your website, email him right now.

Christmas copywriting availability

Both Mathew and I are extremely busy at the moment as Mathew’s been quite poorly this week. He’s soldiering through with a jumbo pack of Lemsip so we can get ahead before the Christmas break.

We very rarely close completely, but over the Christmas period we’ll try to stop working for a few days! If you have discussed a copywriting or screencasting project with us recently but have not yet confirmed the estimate, please book it in as soon as you can.

Over Christmas, we are planning to be available as follows:

Friday 23rd Urgent/ scheduled work only
Christmas Eve Closed
Christmas Day Closed
Boxing Day Closed
Tuesday 27th Urgent/ scheduled work only
Wednesday 28th Open
Thursday 29th Open
Friday 30th Open
Saturday 31st Urgent/ scheduled work only
New Year’s Day Urgent/ scheduled work only
Monday 2nd January Urgent/ scheduled work only

 

If there is any change of plan, we’ll post a note on our Twitter feed.

Please note: If you have regular, scheduled work booked in with us (i.e. regular blogs), you’ll receive everything as normal, regardless of our opening hours.

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