2013 was the year that everybody woke up to the importance of good content, fuelled by changes to the Google Algorithm in 2011 and 2012 (Panda and Penguin updates, lots of them) and “Hummingbird” in 2013.
Panda updated Google’s existing algorithm to clamp down on poor content (aimed at stopping spammy websites appearing high up the results) and Penguin focused on downgrading the value of poor quality links. This stopped link-building (the previous number one activity for all SEO people) in its tracks.
Hummingbird is a completely new search algorithm designed to provide much better results to complex searches such as queries and “conversational search”.
The algorithm changes meant that the only useful direction to adopt for your SEO activity was to focus on providing good quality content that Google would be happy to serve up in search results. In other words, original content that fulfils a search query – not copied from other sites, as spam websites tend to do. Good content also means you’ve got stuff to share on social media, now more important for those “conversations”.
“Not all link building is bad. The philosophy that we’ve always had is if you make something that’s compelling then it would be much easier to get people to write about it and to link to it.” Matt Cutts – Google.
How does content writing for SEO actually work?
Despite the fact that keyword data is now being hidden from Google Analytics (another topic) it’s still what drives search. The difference now is that search has evolved so that we expect answers to questions but not exclusively.
We need to understand the expressions that people use to find content related to the things we sell. The better and more often we do this, the higher up search results our websites will appear – because they’re full of useful information.
For example, at Christmas time last year a popular business search was “rewarding your staff without paying tax”. Look at the content that comes up top for that search still in January:
This works because the keywords in this article trigger the closest match for the search “rewarding staff without paying tax”. Look at how similar the heading of the Rawlinsons article is.
It’s a common sense approach:
- Find out what your customers are likely to be searching for – what is their “pain”? If you run Google Adwords you can use their keyword planner tool to see what the common searches are like.
- Although you provide products or services that you want visitors to be interested in, also produce related content to answer their questions. Selling will follow if people build up trust with your expertise.
- Content can take many forms – website pages, articles, blogs, infographics, e-books or video.
- Just make sure that the articles you produce are useful and are using the same language (keywords) that your target audience will use to search.
It’s time to get thinking and create some fabulous, useful content for your potential customers!