by Guest Blogger
Erik Deckers is the co-owner and VP of Creative Services for Professional Blog Service in Indianapolis. He has been blogging since 1997, and has been a published writer for more than 24 years. He has been a newspaper humor columnist for 17 years, and is published in 10 newspapers around Indiana. Erik co-authored No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing (Pearson, 2011) and Branding Yourself: Using Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (Pearson, 2010). He also helped write Twitter Marketing for Dummies (Wiley 2009). Erik frequently speaks about blogging and social media for personal branding and small business marketing.
Sucky writing is going to hurt you more than you thought, thanks to the new Google Panda update.
Used to be, if you used the different search engine optimization tactics, like backlinks and proper keyword density, you achieved that first page ranking.
Of course, if your writing sucked, visitors didn’t stick around for very long anyway, but hey, you were at the top of the search engines, right?
Not anymore. Now, if your writing sucks, no keyword strategy is going to save you, because the new Google Panda update hates sucky writing.
They didn’t actually come out and say that, but if your writing sucks, it makes pandas cry.
But here’s how Google is going to tell if you have good writing or not, your high school goth poetry website notwithstanding. Google Panda looks at three important factors:
- Clickthrough rate: Did your readers even show up in the first place? If you hit the first page, Google will count the numbers of visits to your site. Did people click on your Google search result? If they did, Google thinks it might be interesting and they’ll keep it up near the top. The better it does, the higher it goes. If no one clicks through, Google thinks it wasn’t that valuable in the first place, and drops it.
- Time on site: How long people stayed on your site is a good indication of whether they read your stuff. Short time on site, they didn’t get past the first paragraph. More than 60 seconds, they probably read your copy. Better writing means longer time, bad writing means shorter time. This is also an argument for why your posts shouldn’t be just 20 words long, or 1,000 words long. Both lengths lead to short TOS, and short TOS means lower rankings.
- Bounce rate: If visitors come to one page and leave again, your bounce rate will be higher, because it means there was nothing to keep them around. You can reduce your bounce rate by having navigation buttons to the next/previous items on your blog, break articles up into more than one page (this is why some magazine sites have slideshows, which most people hate), and by referring to other “if you liked this, you’ll like these” posts that are already on your site.
It’s important to note that Google Panda is not replacing the old strategies and tactics. They’re still important and still contribute to search engine rankings. However, they’ve added some new ingredients to the mix.
Google is putting the power of SEO back into the hands of the writer. While a good layout and design is also important (because it adds to the user experience, which also boosts TOS), good writing is now going to mean the difference between high search rankings and a page that sits in the cellar among all the old Tripod.com websites that haven’t been updated since 2003.