Jamie Harper

Jamie Harper

Spend days duking it out with synonyms, sometimes for global brands.

Want to rank well in Google? Stop freaking out about keywords.

Copywriting
Jamie Harper
Sun, 09/11/2014 - 15:00
Keywords

So you want to appease Google in a post-Hummingbird world? Keywords matter way less than most people realise. Bottom line? Quality content - not keywords - wins the day. Poke your head out of the window and you can almost hear the sighs of relief from copywriters everywhere. Now, here’s what you need to know.

A quick history: SEO used to be a pretty dark art

Remember the dog-ugly SEO practices of old?

Cramming meta keywords into code. Writing disjointed body copy stuffed with identikit keywords. Even sneaking ‘invisible’ keywords into websites by using a font-colour that matched a site’s background-colour. So far, so gross.

Google’s early algorithms encouraged these rogue techniques because they worked. Some kitchen-sink SEO strategists were so bent on getting to the top of the rankings that they only just stopped short of burning unwanted office hardware by way of sacrifice to search-engine overlords. (Or maybe we’re just fantasising about going all Keith Flint on our old printers.)

Suffice to say Google weren’t impressed and deemed these devious SEO strategies ‘black-hat’ practices. Such behaviour encouraged stale writing, rather than the quality content Google strived to serve its users. So the search giant began cracking the whip on keyword-stuffing almost as soon as it became a thing. (As early, in fact, as 2003’s Florida update. By the time 2012’s Penguin surfaced, marketers were getting seriously penalised in the rankings for over-using keywords.)

Hummingbird rewards brands who create quality content

Some marketing-types over the last decade have become so obsessed with SEO that they forget there’s a living, breathing human behind every search query. Remember that and you’ll be way ahead of some SEO agencies. Because with the Hummingbird update of 2013, Google began thinking like a person. It learnt context - taking emphasis away from keywords and rewarding quality content.

The Google search of today doesn’t much care for matching the keywords in a query to the keywords on a webpage. Instead it uses context to determine whether your content provides actual value to a searcher’s query. In short: Google wants to serve answers to its users’ questions, rather than a simple list of webpages that mention matching keywords. Insight rules the roost.

The take out: Write for humans, not search engines

Your new SEO strategy? Answer your audience’s questions.

Improving your clout with Google relies on creating helpful, sharable content - on an ongoing basis. Strive to address your audience’s specific questions, fears, needs, desires and ambitions. Solve their problems. Think about the queries and qualms your ideal prospect might turn to Google for help with - then use your content to provide answers in a meaningful, insightful way. Keep your content output high - and relevant to your brand - and Google will soon bump you up the rankings. Not least if your content is good enough and useful enough to be shared across social media.

Keywords still matter. Sort of.

Keywords have a role to play for as long as people use the written word to search. The more technical aspects of SEO all impact your ranking too. But it’s worth considering that as Google continues to tweak its algorithm (as often as 500-600 times per year), the overwhelming trend is that keywords are being replaced by context and content quality. (This is echoed by the fact that in Google Analytics it’s no longer possible to see the keywords people have used to find your site.)

Create helpful content to solve your audience’s problems and the keywords will come naturally. You can be sure of it. Making keywords your primary focus comes at the expense of content quality - and, like we said, these days content quality is a big, big deal to Google.

Want a hand with your content strategy? Need an expert to craft your copy? We have the in-house copywriters to nail it. Drop us a line.

Jamie Harper

Copywriter,
London Design Works.

Communication pervert with BA (Hons) in English Language Studies and 1.25 million words in the portfolio. Spend days duking it out with synonyms, sometimes for global brands. Spend downtime wondering what kind of hands the person who invented shrink wrap has.

Learn how to master the web with our newsletter Get great insight into the web industry from our team of experts.

More posts in: Copywriting

Copywriting

Why your writing isn’t finished when you think it is

In a digital world built on immediacy, a little patience will transform your writing.

Copywriting

How long should your blog posts be?

The definitive answer to this much-debated question might not be what you were expecting. Props to you if you already knew.

Copywriting

People don’t understand your writing. Here’s how to fix it.

Playing a simple game of catch can teach you a lot about getting your message heard.

Copywriting

Win over new blog subscribers with a few simple words

There’s something ridiculously easy you can do to build an instant connection with new subscribers.

Copywriting

And never start a sentence with a conjunction...

There never has been - and never will be - anything wrong with starting a sentence with and or but. Here’s the skinny.

Copywriting

The importance of writing with purpose (and how to do it)

Irresistible copy requires you to zero in on a few fundamentals.

Copywriting

1 sentence that will help you stick to your blogging schedule

Keeping your blog updated with prime cuts of content is hard. This little trick may help to rein in your stress levels.

Copywriting

What school didn’t teach you about writing for the web

If you’re dubious that your academic years were the biggest influence on your writing, here’s something to ponder.

Copywriting

Still think content is king? Think again.

When it comes to growing your presence online, the popular message is that quality content rules the roost. Fair enough, right?

WriteFull
Copywriting

New app claims to automatically improve your writing

With the European Commission and Harvard University among its users, Writefull has some pretty heavyweight ambassadors. Just don’t expect it to turn you into Hemingway.

Copywriting

How often should your business be blogging?

It must be one of the most frequently asked questions in the blogosphere: How often should you post?

Ban this word from your business. Right now.
Copywriting

Ban this word from your business. Right now.

750,000 words capable of being wrought into sentiments that would bring a tear to the eye of Dickens

Christmas
Copywriting

5 last minute tips for your email marketing this Christmas

Lights festoon the streets. Shoppers wear stroppy faces. Somehow, Christmas is here already. That means it’s time for three things: mince pie scoffing, mulled wine quaffing and making the most of your Christmas email marketing.

Yourself
Copywriting

Want persuasive copy? Stop thinking about yourself.

Question: People come to your website to read about your business, right?
Wrong.
They come to find the answer to a problem.

Typewriter
Copywriting

Why you should and shouldn’t write your own content

Sometimes the closer you are to something, the less you are able to see it.

Typewriter
Copywriting

Why creating good written content is like scoring a symphony

Beautiful melodies build up one note at a time. What’s mind-blowing is that this unit, the individual note, means next to nothing on its own.

Keywords
Copywriting

Want to rank well in Google? Stop freaking out about keywords.

So you want to appease Google in a post-Hummingbird world? Keywords matter way less than most people realise.

The truth about scan-reading online
Copywriting

Is your content really ignored? The truth about scan-reading online.

You know all that painstakingly crafted content on your website? Yeah, your visitors aren’t reading it. At least that’s what a number of experts would have you believe. Wrongly, in our opinion.