SEO Copywriting – Talk Your Client Through It

I still have clients contacting me who are expert at putting carts before horses when it comes to SEO copywriting.  As anyone who follows Google’s latest diktats will know, SEO has been turned on its head since Pandas and Penguins got in on the act with their various algorithm updates. As professional copywriters, web designers or developers, we’re privy to Google’s latest rumours – and, let’s face it, there are plenty of those flying around about how the search engine’s latest pronouncements will affect the way we work and the effects this will have on client websites, their SERPs rankings and – most important of all – how this could affect their online business performance. For mainstream SEO specialists, this has been something akin to a natural catastrophe.  The old, familiar landscape has suddenly been replaced by a new and arid environment where old certainties no longer exist.  SEO techniques that had worked perfectly well for so long – and which many SEO practitioners thought they had down to a fine art – are no longer effective and, in some cases, could prove to be positively detrimental. Anyone with a professional vested interest in perpetuating the status quo, as far as SEO is concerned, would be loath to spill the beans to clients, especially if they were unsure about the best new direction in which to guide their clients.  Despite this reluctance, truth will out, and ultimately there’s no hiding place.  In short, for SEO professionals, the message was: adapt if you want to survive.   It’s ancient history Clients who are probably too busy running their own businesses... Read more...

Is Your Copywriting and Marketing Too Dependent On Google?

Has your business become over-reliant on Google when it comes to online copywriting and marketing?  Should you be shifting some of your online focus and re-balancing it with more offline activity? With all the changes that have taken place at the search engine over the last 12 months – we’re talking Penguin and Panda again! – you’d be forgiven for being a little uneasy, especially if a large percentage of your orders or business enquiries are generated through the use of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques. Massive investments of time and money have been undone for many thousands of companies who’ve fallen victim to Google’s kaleidoscopic changes in their approach and responses to SEO.  We all know how important it is for website pages to rank highly with the search engines, with Page One ranking being the Holy Grail. Imagine the feeling – if you haven’t experienced it already – of waking up one fine morning to discover that the pages on your website that once ranked highly and generated lots of traffic have suddenly plummeted in the rankings!  Imagine the horror, the realisation, that your once-cushy cash-cow is now a dead duck! How could Google do this to you?  After all, you or your SEO people had followed all the Webmaster Guidelines in great detail to make sure you didn’t fall foul of their strictures.  Like a headless chicken, you’d be running around wondering what to do.  Sue Google? Sack your SEO advisors?  File for bankruptcy?  Slit your wrists – or worse? You’d given up on all that old-fashioned offline stuff two or three years ago.  ‘Online’ was where... Read more...

SEO Climate Change – When Penguins Might Fly

We all know that Google has been frantically trying to improve the validity and value of its search results through a sequence of recent ‘Updates’ including Panda and Penguin.  We also know that Google includes elements of semantic search in its algorithms. What very few people discuss is how the physical practice of making an online search could be improved.  Given that search engines are beginning to understand the meaning of text on website pages when its ‘bots do a crawl, it’s logical to ask whether keywords are really up to the job of best interpreting and reflecting the semantic possibilities? This article is intended as a discussion point only.  In no way does it set out to prove a point or claim any great revelation.   A lot of academic work has been done on search methodologies – including semantic search – so there’s nothing new under the sun (as they say!).  The search engines themselves are continually claiming breakthroughs in this field, with more accurate search results being their ultimate aim. One perspective they do not and cannot bring to the table is that of a coal-face creative in the shape of a website or SEO copywriter.  Having been involved in website and SEO copywriting for a number of years, I’ve witnessed the rise and fall in the importance of keywords and the ways in which they have been aggrandised and devalued in turn. At a practical level, I’ve never heard what mainstream or online marketing professionals think about the current keyword search system.  Whilst it’s true that keywords have been demoted in the SEO stakes (even to... Read more...

‘A Parade of Penguins’ Tops the Copywriters’ Pecking Order!

With Google’s ‘Penguin Updates’ all around us, could all you copywriters and journalists introduce a new collective noun or two into your articles and blog posts to make it all a little more interesting? It’s not as though you’re limited in the number of options available.  Maybe one reason we don’t see phrases like ‘flocks of Penguin Updates’ could be that no-one’s given it a second thought.  After all, algorithms and SEO don’t naturally invite poetic turns of speech. For the benefit of writer-types everywhere, I’ve cobbled together a few thoughts on Penguin plurality… Apparently, the collective noun for a group of birds of any feather is a ‘flock’.  OK so far.  Look a little more closely and you’ll find the delightfully-named ‘charm of gold-finches’.  Compare and contrast with ‘a deceit’ of lapwings’!  I love the phrase ‘exaltation of larks’ – and there’s something weirdly appropriate about ‘a parliament of owls’! Then there are times when the collective noun changes according to the immediate circumstances of the bird in question.  We’ve all heard about ‘a gaggle of geese’.  This applies when they’re on the ground.  When they’re in flight, however, you must say ‘a skein’.  Likewise with swans.  In flight, they’re ‘a wedge’.  At other times, you’ll get away with ‘a game’ of swans. Back to penguins: if they’re bobbing on the sea surface, the word to use (logically) is ‘a raft’.  If they’re all together, on land, at the South Pole or on a Falkland Island or two, you can say ‘a rookery’ or ‘huddle’. For some reason, there are more ways to describe groups of penguins than... Read more...