In the prehistoric days of the Internet, good website copywriting wasn’t as important as it is today.
Around the time that most of us started getting AOL CDs in the mail, there were only around 100,000 websites in existence. Back then, primitive search engines used human-submitted directories, until Google became the clear winner by relying on “backlinks” to rank sites by how much “authority” they had.
Today there are well over 1 billion websites on the Internet. As the Internet started growing faster and faster, some people tried to game the SEO (search engine optimization) system by using what is known as “black hat” SEO (after the bad guys in Western films who always wore black cowboy hats).
One of the earliest black hat strategies was to use Google’s authority system against itself. Website creators would build “link farms,” hundreds of websites linking back to a single page that made that page appear to have hundreds of backlinks and thus tonnes of authority. Google also used to rely heavily on meta tags and keywords. In the old days keywords could be stuffed into image descriptions and crammed at the bottom of pages in the text. No longer.
Today, Google uses a sophisticated and constantly changing algorithm that rewards sites with “good” content and punishes sites without it. This algorithm still uses meta tags and backlinks, but it also relies on a tonne of other factors to judge the quality of your content with a lot of accuracy.
So what does Google consider good content? For your content to pack a strong SEO punch these days, it must:
- Be original. Google ignores pages that have words that are repeated elsewhere on the Internet.
- Not send you somewhere else. Adding too many links to other websites just tells Google that your content isn’t quite good enough to stand on itsown.
- Provide a lot of good information. If there’s nothing on the page, Google ignores it – this includes pages that are solely images.
- Get to the point. Splash pages, entry pages and other delays to the real content can cause an entire website to be ignored.
- Not have a lot of nonsense keywords. Filling your page with lists of words will just hurt your ranking. Google can tell the difference between a paragraph that makes sense and a list of keywords.
Google is continuously using human editors to create better and better content quality guidelines for its algorithm. What’s becoming clearer and clearer is that, if you want to top the Google rankings, you must first write for your audience, providing useful information that real humans want to read and share.
Good website content should be written at an expert level, contain a satisfying amount of information and be fresh. These are the same guidelines that many magazines and other professional publications require from their writers.