Google’s Penguin 2.0 update back in May was arguably one of the most significant search engine algorithm changes as it relates to writing web content since Panda first hit back in 2011. The main reason is, content marketers were told to stop (or limit) doing things they had been told to do since writing search engine-optimized content became so popular – and necessary.
So if you’re writing your web content the same way you were last year, or even earlier this year (ie, before May 22nd), you could be doing your website a lot of harm. To this end, following are five things to check before hitting publish.
2013 Search Engine Optimization Writing Checklist
To stay on the right side of Google -- and other search engines – following are the most important things to check before making your content live on the web.
1. Vary anchor text: In the past, we were told to target a few keyword phrases within our niche and create content around them, making sure to use the keywords we’d targeted as anchor text. This meant that many webmasters had tons of content with the same keyword as anchor text.
Now, that’s a no no. Google now sees this as a form of spam. What they want you to do now is vary your anchor text. So you’re going to have to target a lot more keywords and produce a lot more content with those keywords used as anchor text to rank well.
2. Avoid using exact match anchor text: Piggybacking on this last point, Google doesn’t want you using exact match anchor text.
What Is Exact Match Anchor Text?
Simply put, it’s when you use the EXACT form of a keyword/keyword phrase as anchor text -- even if it is misspelled and/or grammatically incorrect.
Now you might be thinking, “Why would someone use misspelled or grammatically incorrect words as anchor text?” Well spammers, for one. And this is why Google addressed this in the Penguin 2.0 update.
You see, some misspelled and/or grammatically incorrect keyword phrases get a lot of searches. So a lot of webmasters – spammers in particular – don’t hesitate to use them.
So Google has said, “No more ranking well doing this buddy!” When you think about it, it makes sense. I mean, what legitimate business wants misspelled and/or grammatically incorrect text on their website. It hurts their image.
So when writing SEO content, don’t use these keyword phrases – even if they do get a lot of searches.
3. Use branded anchor text: Many of the changes Google implements – not just with Penguin 2.0, but with all of their changes – is done with the intent of moving online businesses to establish themselves as a brand (ie, a legitimate company) online.
This alone will cut out on a lot of the spam; ie, those who use the web to make a quick buck instead of build a legitimate, thriving business. Hence, the introduction of branded anchor text.
What Is Branded Anchor Text?
In case you don’t know, this is anchor text that references the brand name or URL of a company. Following are a few examples of what it looks like.
**Your Company Name
FYI, this is one way to get some variety in your anchor text.
4. Cite authority sources: The goal of a search engine is to return relevant, usable, CREDIBLE content. Citing authority sources gives your content more believability and credibility, which makes it more likely to be useful to the end user (web surfers).
So, try to cite at least one source in your content.
5. Use good grammar /spelling: This is a basic, but I’m constantly amazed at just how poorly written a lot of web copy still is.
No one can catch everything all the time – especially if you’re a prolific content marketer. But, doing the basics like running a spell check and doing a quick edit will go a long way towards helping you publish better content. And FYI, if it’s not your forte, it’s worth it to hire a freelance proofreader, editor or copy editor to help you out.
SEO writing post-Penguin 2.0 has gotten more stringent. And that’s good news for online freelance writers – who’ll be called on to create more of it.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black heads New Media Words, an SEO writing company she founded in 2008, and is the publisher of Inkwell Editorial, a blog devoted to helping others start successful, home-based writing careers. She's also the author of over 50 ebooks, most of which cover some aspect of freelance / SEO writing. They can be found on major outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Get everything you need to start a successful, freelance SEO content writing business -- earning anywhere from $35,000 to $75,000 per year.
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