It is well established that Google loves fresh, relevant content. Good content is one of the major contributors to good organic SEO and a good page rank. Google offers no specific guidelines, but from something of a process of trial and error, we've learned a few things that make Google tick.

Be realistic

Unless you're in a very specialised field, don't expect your site to suddenly appear at the top of Google's search listings just because you think your copy is 'better' than your competitors'. The whole process may takes months — maybe longer. And it is a process of constant refinement and revision. (Or better, addition.)

Case in point: saso.creative has sister companies in book design and typesetting. We launched the typesetting website, 1000Monkeys.com.au, more than a decade ago. We did no specific SEO other than writing about, well, about typesetting. It ranks #1 for the search phrase "typesetting services".

By the bye, we had feedback from clients and would-be clients that the name of the company, 1000 Monkeys  Typesettting Services, was way too flippant and fun for the fusty world of typesetters (this was strictly a trade business, and we had hoped our clients would recognise the Shakespeare reference, but there you go: publishers, eh?) So we changed the name and launched a new website, Charlie M Typesetting Services. We left the old 1000 Monkeys website up, though, just in case any passing traffic came our way.

But despite nuture, love and frequent updates to the Charlie M site and totally ignoring the 1000 Monkeys site, we cannot displace 1000 Monkeys stranglehold on #1 position. In other words, we can't displace our own website. Suffice it to say that getting to #1 (or #2 or #3 for that matter, or even #50) in a competitive environment takes a lot of work. Don't expect miracles: most 'overnight' successes have taken years.

Organic SEO beats paid SEO, hands down, every time

This is no secret, even Google admits its paid SEO kinda sucks. But they're at the good end of the paid SEO money funnel, getting a little bit of coin from an awful lot of businesses.

You, on the other hand, at the other end of the funnel, are getting maybe 2% clickthroughs. Two percent! For several thousand dollars a year. And that's just clickthroughs, not interest or commitment or sales. Clickthroughs!

Balls to that. By its own admission, the ads at the top and to the side of Google's search results pages are, for the most part, ignored by just about everyone. There is no correlation between your paid SEO efforts and your page rank. And organic SEO generates more goodwill — a better clickthrough commitment — than paid SEO. Them's the facts.

Spend your time (or money for a paid writer) to generate better organic SEO and you'll get a better clickthrough rate by customers and prospects who already have a more favourable disposition to your product or service. And that equals a better chance of sales conversion, which, after all, is what it's all about.

Write for humans, not search engines

Everyone hates a phoney, and none more so than Google. Keyword stuffing was (still is) a tactic used by web authors and SEO 'consultants' to try to give their site or page the appearance of more relevance to search engines than would otherwise be the case. In practise this meant the unnatural or overuse of keywords and key phrases, hiding keyword-rich text behind images or in 'no script' tags, or by using keywords that clearly bore no relation to the content of the actual page.

Google doesn't just measure the content of your page, but pegs it against the rest of your site, too. As it crawls your pages, it gets a snapshot of what a given page is about, and compares that against other pages on your site. Through revision and refinement, it 'knows' what your site is about. If your actual content doesn't add up to what your page headings or meta data says it's about, well, expect a little bit of Google wrath.

Best bet is to write simply and naturally. Here's the thing: if you're writing about your business, you're the expert. Write about what you know, what you think your customers or prospects will be interested in, and do it frequently so your site gradually grows, then there's no need for black hat false rank tactics.

Use your heading levels wisely

This goes to giving good structure to your writing, and as above, is really just about good writing in general.

Heading levels in HTML, the underlying 'language' or coding of web pages, are defined by the tags H1, H2, H3 and so on, in decreasing levels of 'importance'. Despite Google's denial, there seems to be plenty of evidence that H1 and H2 heading levels in particular are something Google looks at to help decipher the content of a page. More specifically, it looks to the heading levels to indicate the nature of content that follows and to check that the headings and following text bear some kind of correlation to each other.

This can work two ways: overuse of the H1 heading level, or the use of the H1 heading level to introduce unrelated content, will earn time in Google's sin bin.

However, correct use of the H1 heading level will get you some Google SEO yum. It's just about good writing. Write a heading that clearly indicates what the content to follow is all about, and you'll get your Google rewards. Here's a hint, though: if you've got a specific point to make (in other words, a specific keyword or key phrase you want to write about), try to mention that keyword or key phrase in your page title, H1 heading level, and in the content that follows, so there's a clear repetition of the idea you're trying to get across. But don't overdo it!

Write about what you know

And in language you and your audience understand.

A lot of people freak out about writing. That probably sounds condescending coming from a copywriter, but it's not meant to: there are plenty of jobs that I wouldn't or couldn't do. But writing for your own business shouldn't freak you out.

You don't have to climb the heights of literature here: you just have to write about what you know. Listen to customer's questions and blog about it; compile a list of FAQs and blog about it; think up some How-Tos and blog about it; relate an amusing anecdote, review a new product, promote a special offer. This is all stuff you've probably got at your mental fingertips: you just have to commit it to paper, or in this case to your blog.

And keep the language simple. Ultimately your goal is communicating with your customers and prospects. But if you use your blog as a literary ego trip full of hifalutin language and jargon, you're not going to be communicating anything at all, except that maybe you're a bit of a knob. Leave the jargon for the shoptalk and your literary ambitions for your writer's group.

Don't scimp

Google's Hummingbird update is all about quality content, and it appears that that means long, in-depth, quality articles.

The average page on Google's first page of web rankings has more than 2000 words. There's also evidence that in-depth articles or posts get more 'shares' from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ users than brief, superficial articles.

So aim for content that delves deep into your chosen subject area and provides insight and entertainment. But, don't do it just to please Google (see point 2 above) — do it because you know your subject matter and think it something your audience wants to know about.

Don't be too clever

Google's smart, but not that smart. At the end of the day, Google is just an algorithm, and doesn't really know anything that its creators haven't told it to know.

In other words, this is no time for your inner poet. As a copywriter, I love a good strap line, something that is so cleverly worded that it hints at something more, implies more than it actually says, provokes an inner giggle or inner wink or an inner raise of the eyebrow. This is how all the best print ads are written.

Classic copywriting ad from J & BAs a human, you can work out what this award-winning print ad from J & B Scotch from a Christmas edition of the Saturday Evening Post is hinting at.

Google can't. Use a similar trick as a headline or strap line and Google will see it as it sees it: "ingle ells". And won't really know what it's all about. It doesn't get the subtlety or the implication or hidden 'join-the-dots' that makes the reader make a mental leap and that makes the ad so memorable and therefore effective.

It's a shame, because the web is poorer for it, but your website or blog is not the place for clever headlines and strap lines. Google just doesn't get the punchline.

Blog outside the box

This is all about inbound links. Sure, you've got your own blog up and running on your website and it's full of quality, in-depth content that your customers want to read. But to really get some Google action, you need to let the wider world know your blog exists.

And one of the best ways to do this is to get your content on someone else's blog. I know, I know, it kinda sounds counterintuitive, but it works.

Do some research and select a blog (or two or three)  that are well-regarded in the field you are targeting and start commenting on the authors' posts, adding to the discussion and displaying your knowledge. Of course, use your own blog (and links to your blog) by way of verifying your credentials and integrating your own website with that of this already well-respected blog.

This will generate inbound leads from a source that is known and well-ranked by Google. For you, that's gold.

Don't, however, overdo it. Backlinking your site to every fly-by-night blog or directory out there will do you more harm than good. And overreaching or over posting on your blog(s) of choice may be interpreted as 'comment spam'. Not a good thing.

But, as with most of the previous tips, it's all about good writing and writing about what you know. If your comments and discussion is valuable, your own SEO will reap the rewards.

Use the image 'alt' tag

This one's no secret, but it's so underused that it may as well be.

The vast majority of images on web pages throughout the internet have generic names like 'image.jpg' or 'photo.jpg' or some laborious and meaningless code like 'hieh-g-7e6-PPP.jpg' which means nothing to anyone. Means nothing to Google.

A picture might paint a thousand words, but for Google its just a random collection of pixels. So in steps the image 'alt' tag.

Originally the image 'alt' tag was directed at the vision impaired or people who used text-only browsers: it was a way of identifying and describing an image if the picture itself wasn't displayed or wasn't viewable.

Google, in this sense, is vision-impaired. It can't make sense of a picture just on its own: it needs help from you, the owner or creator of the image, to tell it what the image is about. The image 'alt' tag is the place to do it. And using it appropriately, how it was meant to be used, will get your images and your site a big Google hug.

Beware the SEO huckster

One of the unfortunate elements of doing business on the web is the number of shameless businesses or individuals out there willing to take your money and run given half the chance. SEO is just another industry that is trying to pry apart your wallet.

Just to reiterate a previous point: Organic SEO beats paid SEO, every time. In the everyday sense of the two terms, paid SEO refers, mostly, to paid ads that display in Google's search page sidebars and, sometimes, above and below the main search rankings; and organic SEO refers to the ongoing process of providing quality content and like-for-like linking for Google to index. That's a basic explanation. Both are legitimate methods for getting your business's website seen on Google search pages.

However, an industry has sprung up around the notion of organic SEO, for the most part spruiking crazy claims that they can get your site to the top of Google's search page rankings in 'x' number of days and for 'x' number of dollars.

Simple answer: it can't be done. Such offers are not worth the digital bandwidth they require to make it to your inbox. it's a scam, or rather, it's a false promise. The only way to get to improve your rank on Google's search results page is hard work, using the techniques outlined above. Get-ranked-quick offers are, to put it bluntly, horseshit.

Don't fall for it. The best case scenario is that you're out a couple of thousand bucks; the more likely scenario is that your site is actively punished and demoted by Google for using the blackhat tactics such hucksters employ.

In brief

Regularly updating your website with fresh content is a great way  (in fact, the best way) to climb the results in Google's search pages. Here are some tips to bear in mind.

  • Have realistic expectations

    A single post will not make you an overnight blogging sensation. 

  • Organic SEO beats paid SEO every time

  • Gaming the system doesn't work

    Trying to game the system by stuffing an avalanche of keywords into your article doesn't work. Google's wised up.

  • Structure your text

    Using the H1 tag for every heading (or worse, every paragraph) is another old trick that's had its day. 

  • Write what you know

    After all, that's why customers and prospects have sought you out.

  • Longer is better

    True.

A tailored, legitimate SEO strategy

The best way to get to improve your site’s ranking on Google is a regular turnover (or addition) of relevant, quality content.

We can tailor a blogging schedule for your website to help you provide that regular content. Our copywriter will research and write a regular blog article around your business’s subject area, using all the best legitimate SEO strategies to ensure Google likes what it sees.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your options. We can tailor the average length, the regularity, and the subject matter to best suit your budget.

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