I’ve been in the SEO game for a long time now and over the last few years the buzz words semantic search has been banded about, however it’s not until recently (post launch of hummingbird), that I’ve really come to see an impact, forcing me to pause to think about how this will change my role as a search marketer and in turn how I write content as an seo copywriter.
Writing seo content for websites is changing – but this is how it was!
I write as an SEO, I’ve been doing this for years, my standard procedure is to do keyword research, come up with a topic for content based I’m confident I can make an impact in, then expand out on the concept keyword with related search phrases, after this all I need to do is write content in which these words are strategically placed, making sure that I get all the terms in the content. I always made sure it was useful and relevant so it would fit into Google’s quality guidelines
It used to be when I’d done a good job at this I’d rank, and generally rank in the top few positions for my chosen phrase – but things have changed and using that tried and tested SEO copywriting technique, no longer sees my content automatically ranking in the top position – even if I choose a topic where there is no competition for those exact terms!
I’ve been noticing this trend for a while now – however over the last few months Google seems to have stepped up a bit and optimised content that would have previously ranked at position one for the key phrases I’m selecting isn’t doing.
The answer is of course to change the way that I write, so over the last few months I’ve been experimenting and adapting how I write content – it’s funny, it’s a learning and retraining exercise and one I saw coming but couldn’t do anything about until it was on me.
What’s happened to seo copywriting in the post-Hummingbird world then?
So the difference now in a post-Hummingbird world is Google is trying to take into account whole meaning rather than just looking for keywords. Simple as that. The thing is, it’s getting much better at it (or at least Knowledge Graph is getting bigger), relatively quickly and the old seo copywriting techniques are having increasingly less impact.
There is a degree of liberation about this in many ways, it’s not the case anymore than you can produce a piece of content with a range of keywords in mind and get that piece to rank for those terms, or at least not in the same specificity we would once have been able to do. This takes a degree of control away from the SEO – but in my opinion it shifts the emphasis away from ranking for specific search query’s towards really understanding the needs of the target audience – pure marketing.
Bear in mind at all times that Google hasn’t just introduced Hummingbird to counter SEOs stuffing keywords into content. This is more about building a framework that will allow Google’s search to be relevant in a world of voice command search (which they obviously see as the future). Basically Google want to make sure they dominate the mobile sphere before anyone takes it from them. The key therefore is to write for the conversational query. I’ve been advising doing this for years because people have always used questions in search queries even though Google has steered the public to using keyword / key phrase queries.
Authorship and SEO Copywriting
Authorship plays into this of course – niche writers who have a decent Google Plus / Online profile are going to be highly sought after and will command higher amounts for the content they produce due to their leverage they bring with them. Again this puts the SEO in an interesting position – naturally the SEO is an expert on SEO, so how does he or she go about writing and promoting content that is outside their natural sphere? There has been lots of talk about fake Google Plus accounts – or aliases. I’m not too keen on this, you can virtually guarantee that Google can spot a fake account / online profile, and if they can’t yet they will be able to in the future which makes investment in this model a very risky move.
Of course the business owner could attribute everything to their own accounts, but this would only work for a certain kind of entrepreneurial business and I’d also argue at some point Google will figure that out and make it against its guidelines for any content to be attributed to an author who didn’t write the content.
Offsite SEO is converging with PR years after Google devalued press releases
I’ve been saying for a long time that offsite seo will more and more take on a PR role, when I first started working in SEO it was mainly through a PR function that I grew my understanding, then online press release websites (the forerunners to article networks) became less effective as an seo tool.
It feels like we’ve come full circle but we won’t be using press release article type websites in which we create loads of duplicate content all over the place, in the new seo paradigm we’re all about building relationships with other publishers and trying to get them to use our content – but really we don’t even want them to use our content but to be inspired by our content enough that they’ll rewrite some bits of it (maybe using a few lines of it) and crediting the content either with a link or probably in the future a simple citation of the brand referenced to the subject will be enough.
If you’re going to get your content to be used in this way it’s going to have to be good, well crafted, thought through, relevant to the website you’ve sent it to and to the wider audience base, you’re going to have to be able to get on the phone and persuade people, rewrite the content for them if you want it to be used etc. This is very much a traditional PR type role and one which some SEOs may struggle with in the future.
The thing that I like though is that many SEOs will struggle with this. This is an expensive way of marketing yourself so SEO will become harder – there’s always going to be the fabled low hanging fruit for the smaller businesses to exploit until they’ve established their killer brands will have a range of user signals / brand signals that will allow them to rank for the kind of words they really want to rank for.
How does seo copywriting impact on the way we use social media?
Authorship is going to be a major element here – but in the new world of Google it looks like user signals are becoming a much more important factor as well, admittedly I’d largely say this relates to the context of SERPs however it’s not a great leap to think the user signals Google is looking at relates to referrals as well – and most businesses these days will get the majority of their referrals from social media. So whatever you’re putting up on social media is going to have to work for you in terms of getting clicks and making the visitors that land on your site stick and browse / take the relevant action.
Also Google Plus and this is outside Authorship – I am 100% confident that in many circumstances posting about something on Google Plus helps your rankings. I think it’s especially important at the moment to get the right keywords in the hashtags on Google Plus…
So it’s an interesting ever changing time at the moment as Google’s Knowledge Graph grows and the old techniques of SEO copywriting drop off some interesting new ones take their place and in-depth content that’s useful and relevant is as ever going to be important.
And it’s still all about text – although we live in an era of universal search where rich media have a positive impact on your page’s ranking the main thing that Google is considering is text.