by Steve Kellas

What blog would be complete without an end-of-the-year review? I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog post for some time, because for this copywriting agency and many of our clients it has been a big year.

There have been some massive changes in how the work of a quality web copywriter is viewed by both the search engines and marketers. For the first time in a long time, I feel satisfied that the gaming of the search ‘system’ is (temporarily) on hold. I feel like we all are heading in the right direction in terms of producing the best possible copy and content for our customers that we can, and the search engines are rewarding this effort by giving higher rankings to truly honest and valuable businesses in their niches.

This year has also been a productive one for the copywriters here on the blog. We’ve done a few series of posts that covered topics that are dear to us.

Now, on with the review.

Google changes the game for SEO

I think this is the biggest web copywriter story of the year.

In early 2011, Blekko was the first off the mark in responding to something that we all knew – the first page of search results on the search engines was full of poor quality, low-value content. The kind of copywriting that was pumped out by low-paying content mills milking new writers who thought they could make a buck or two. It was the sort of end-game where everyone lost.

We wrote about Google’s response and how these moves by the search engines showed in a previous blog.

Well, that was February, and things move fast in the web copywriter world.

In March, Google (finally) did something about copywriting spam by actively reducing the ranking of low-quality (and low-value) sites. It started penalising sites that didn’t put any effort into the quality of their copywriting.

All these algorithm changes became known as the “Panda update” and it’s still being smoothed out and actively worked on. We wrote in July about the Google Panda update and what it meant for your content.

SEO today is no longer about ‘stuffing’ as many keywords as possible into a page. It has to be what it always should have been: writing a well-crafted and valuable page about a specific topic. Natural keyword use through proper copywriting would win out by the end of the year, thanks in part to Google and the other search engines stepping up to battle content spam.

Big Star Copywriting Blog Series

Not as big a story as the Google changes, for sure. But, we did write a few series this year that I thought were a pretty good attempt on our part to share a lot of the experience and ideas that we have about copywriting in general, and on the topics themselves. Here they are again for you to enjoy:

Web Copywriting Dissected – this series covered everything we could think of to help you write better website home pages and calls-to-action, all the way through to contact pages and forms; including tips on writing towards your page goals.

Ask an SEO copywriter – this series was post-Panda. We wanted to cover the new SEO copywriting best practices, using good content as the anchor point for all SEO activity. Beginning with Which comes first, links or content?, we moved through SEO topics such as choosing keywords, meta data and its importance in SEO, and using keywords with video.

Email copywriting – this is something we get asked about a lot and we wrote a series based on best practices and our insights into how to write and manage a regular newsletter.

Some other copywriting highlights

There were many other successes and highlights from the year, and I’m sure you’ve had your own share too.

Here are a couple more things of note from our blog over the past year:

  • Whitepapers turn out to be one of the hardest working pieces of marketing content you can produce
  • Early in 2011, I put together this list of the Top 5 websites for learning about web copywriting. Throughout the year these sites continued to provide valuable information on how to improve copywriting. I still recommend them, and in 2012 I may just add to the list.

Thank you to everyone we worked with these past 12 months. We look forward to working together again.

All the best for 2012.

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