I have been working in the field of SEO copywriting for 12 years now, and this debate has been front and centre since very early on in my career. It will possibly continue for many years to come as it is a valid question. Does SEO copywriting still work?
The short answer is: of course it does!
You still type words into Google to find things, and those words need to be linked to a source of information. Those words are keywords that are used in SEO copy to help Google discern one thing from another in a bid to match your intent with valuable content. Hence, SEO copywriting helps Google find relevant information to match to search queries.
If that has satisfied your curiosity, then you may close this blog post and search for something else. If you’re not entirely convinced, then I can’t help you. Jokes. Let dig deeper, shall we?
SEO copywriting is the unloved sibling of all advertising and marketing content. It’s the data-driven copy that isn’t particularly glamorous or endearing, but it has a very clear purpose. It is there to help websites gain momentum and visibility in search results. Plain and simple. However, there is a trick to it. While it used to be a free for all keyword stuffing contest, it is now an ethical display of proportions: matching user requirements with search engine spider needs. Nail the ratio, and you’ll be rewarded with Google’s attention and admiration!
So how does that answer the initial question? It doesn’t. But understanding how pages are crawled by search engine spiders will.
How Do Search Engines Crawl Content?
I’m glad you asked. Search engines use what are called search engine spiders, web crawlers or bots to help them discover, crawl, validate and index billions of pages on the web. When new pages are made available, these busy, little web crawlers will scan them, follow any links on the pages and try to discern what each page is about. If they have been discovered and classified as legitimate, they are added to an extensive library called an index. This is what happens when we say that pages have been indexed.
Search engine spiders use a few tricks in their arsenal to classify each page them come across. These include:
- Following any links to discover related pages and new URLs
- Scanning the content to determine what the context of each page is about (this is the important part)
- Validating when the content was created
- Analysing user behaviour when interacting with the content
Once they have a good idea of what the page is about and they are positive it’s a relevant piece of information that can serve users in a positive way, they will index it. It gets stored in the library of indexed pages, already ranked according to a hierarchy that is deemed to be best suited to any user searching for that content.
Google’s Main Role
I want you to keep the way that search engines index content top of mind, but also think about Google as a business that needs to deliver on certain expectations. Their primary role is to deliver relevant results to users who type something into their search box. So it’s in their best interests to match search queries to results that are compatible. If they don’t, they fail at their job.
What Happens When You Type Keywords Into Google?
Google responds with what they think is the smartest retort and they serve you all the related content from their index that potentially matches your search query. They have already created a hierarchy, but through your keen resourcefulness, you can alter that hierarchy. If you don’t choose the top search result and perhaps find that one a few pages along that is more suitably matched to your query, then Google will take note of this. Any time another user types in a search query similar to yours, the results Google feeds them might have shifted somewhat due to what they learned from your experience.
Fascinating stuff, isn’t it?
So, how do Google match search queries to compatible content? The only way they can possibly do this is to understand the context of each page. To match content to search results. To match keywords to keywords. This is basically just the long-winded version of what I said in the introduction, but I hope you enjoyed the read.