The internet has grown in spades since its birth – and so has how we use it.
Writing for SEO has always been a constantly moving field, with new algorithms to understand and technological advancements to get on board with.
So, after all this time, what’s changed? Well, brands need to write for SEO by following current best practices, which means no more outdated writing ‘hacks’.
We’re going to take you through just how much the SEO world has changed and make sure you’re embracing the best techniques for forward-thinking, optimised writing. It’s out with the old and in with the new, so let’s get you up to speed!
What’s the difference between normal copywriting and SEO copywriting?
68% of all online experiences start with a search engine. When you type in a word or phrase and hit that enter button, the search engine will start trawling the web for the most relevant answers.
This is why SEO writing is so important. By embracing clever keyword use, it helps the search engine find those results. And the more eyes you get on your pages, the more organic traffic you’re going to get to your website.
General copywriting is there to help conversions, sales and promotions. It’s for catching people’s attention and directing them to a particular goal but is less focused on generating web traffic.
SEO copywriting is essential for businesses looking to increase their profile online. But what are the biggest changes this sector has undergone over the years?
Keyword stuffing no longer works
Cast your memory back to when the internet was young, and fax machines were still a thing. Search engines like Google and Yahoo used algorithms for hunting down keywords based on numbers. To get seen, companies started cramming keywords into their websites in any way they could to rank higher.
It worked, for a while. But it meant the web was packed full of confusing, often difficult to read content that didn’t always answer the right questions.
Even today, some marketers still stuff as many key phrases into their copy as they can, in the hope that their pages will gain some traction in search. But does it work? Definitely not.
It’s no longer a numbers game. When text appears to read unnaturally because it’s been stuffed full of key phrases, the algorithms pick up on this. Depending on how over-optimised this text is, the search engine bots may decide to demote that content by taking away its positions in the search listings, leaving you, as the website owner, back at square one in terms of organic visibility.
The moral of this story? Write for humans, not search engines.
High keyword densities are not as important as they were
Keyword density is the number of keywords used compared to the amount of content on a page. This was a calculation that was once used to create page text that would have a high probability of ranking within the search engines. In years gone by, the higher the keyword density, the better your chances. This is no longer the case.
Search engines are savvy and, in the same way they pick up on the overuse of keywords, they will baulk at overly high keyword densities – mainly because users don’t like reading through copy that sounds repetitive and clunky! And as we know, Google doesn’t like what users don’t like.
Making sure you have some well-researched keywords sprinkled throughout your copy is vital, but don’t overload your messaging with repeated key phrases in the hope this will boost your SEO. It won’t.
Semantic search has transformed the way Google processes queries
Context is everything. If you search for “park nearby”, how does Google know whether to show you a green space or somewhere to put your car? Semantics, that’s how.
Search engines analyse your previous searches and suggest the best options for your next results. The algorithms strive to learn how humans interact through language and actions to give us relevant information.
This means search engines no longer go by keywords alone. They adopt a more organic and natural way of assessing, ranking, and serving up information, largely through enhanced AI.
Cloaking is well and truly out of fashion
Cloaking was an old school trick used when search engines were heavily keyword based.
It involved manipulating a website so it showed certain information to the user, and different information to Google’s bots. One common technique was adding multiple keywords to the page but making this text the same colour as the design background, so only the search engine crawlers could read them.
There are numerous examples where search engines have permanently banned websites that engage in these kinds of practices, so don’t be tempted to go down this route!
What are the best practices for SEO content writing now?
We’ve gone through some of the most significant changes in this field over the years, but what about writing for SEO right now? Here are some key takeaways that you should keep in mind when it comes to your SEO writing.
Write for your audience. Make sure you think about the kind of traffic you want and what those individuals might be looking for. You should also keep your target audience firmly in mind when researching targeted keywords for your pages.
Use keywords in context
Using keywords in your page headline and within well-worded phrases will help your content rise through the ranks in the major search engines. Make sure it reads well and evenly sprinkle your relevant terms throughout your copy, with most mentions weighted towards the top of the page. It will make all the difference.
No matter what you are writing, make it valuable. Your users don’t want to waste their time scrolling through boring, mindless copy that’s purely been created in a bid to engineer better search positions. Bring real value to the table, and your readers will want to stick around and engage with your brand further – and this kind of heightened engagement is often a crucial part of the conversion cycle!
Looking for some help with writing for SEO? Get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation to see how we can bring your optimisation strategy up to speed and get your website’s pages ranking for the search terms that suit your business.