When I was setting up Voxtree early last year, I googled the words ‘copywriting business’ and recoiled at what I saw. Among those offering genuinely useful advice were sites with content so badly written, you wondered how on earth the authors had the cheek to call themselves writers at all. Grammar was appalling, there was nothing resembling a structure and much of the content made no sense whatsoever.
Cut to April 2012 and I google the same words. This time, the vast majority of content is of decent quality – mainly written by copywriters with a track record and, thankfully, a good dose of writing ability.
So, what happened? The Panda happened, that’s what!
Shortly after my initial search, Google initiated the ‘Panda’ update. Without going into too much geek-speak, they changed search algorithms to reward good quality writing that is viewed for a reasonable length of time – and therefore actually read – as well as shared by other users.
In the bad old days, the search-bots would reward quantity over quality and thus saw the birth of content mills – farms of ‘copywriters’ happy to churn out keyword-dense copy for pitifully small amounts of money. It didn’t matter that these documents were hastily written – the main criteria being that the keywords fitted into something vaguely resembling an article. After all, the content wasn’t designed to be read by humans. As long as it wasn’t so stuffed with mumbo jumbo that Google would penalise them, then that was okay.
The good news is that the writing is on the wall (ha!) for this approach to content. There has been a tangible shift in the way that good quality copy is perceived by business people – partly driven by the Panda update but also from the perspective of increased competition in an economy that is putting many companies on the back foot.
It’s also good for those of us who take pride in producing properly researched and well-crafted copy. There’ll probably always be a market for cheap copy – a quick update here and there or frequent blog updates don’t usually tax a good copywriter too much. But hopefully the days of googling for advice on copywriting and having to trawl through reams of rubbish written by some poor hack – no doubt wondering where the next Pot Noodle is coming from – will soon be long gone.
Here is a good blog that goes into some more depth on the issue.
In Part Two, I’ll be looking at ways you can add high quality content that is relevant AND attracts Brownie Points from Google!