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Posted by randfish

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes” — it’s a quote that’s actually quite applicable when it comes to writing for SEO. Much of the advice given to copywriters, journalists, editors, and other content creators for SEO writing is dangerously out of date, leaning on practices that were once tried and true but that could now get your site penalized.

In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we hope you enjoy a brief history lesson on what should be avoided, what used to work and no longer does, and a brief 5-step process you should start using today for writing content that’ll get you to the front of the SERPs.

Write for SEO in 2018

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about writing for SEO and what that means in 2018.

So writing for SEO has had a long history, and it meant something many years ago that it does not mean today. Unfortunately, I see a lot of bad advice, terrible advice out there for journalists and editors and authors of all kinds about what you need to do in terms of writing for SEO, meaning writing to get you to the top of search engines.

“Writing for SEO” in 2001

Now, let’s be clear, some of this stuff is mired in pure mythology. But some of it is mired in historical fact that just hasn’t been updated. So let’s talk about what writing for SEO used to be back in 2001, how it evolved in sort of the middle era of 2008, let’s say, and then what it means today in 2018.

So, back in the day, writing for SEO did mean things like…

I. Keyword stuffing

If you wanted to rank highly in early search engines, especially the late ’90s into the early 2000s, keyword stuffing was a real tactic that really did have effectiveness. So SEOs would cram keywords into all sorts of tags and locations.

II. They would use and reuse a bunch of different variants, slight keyword variants

So if I’m targeting the word blue watches, I would have blue watch, blue watches, blue watch accessory, blue watch accessories, blue watches accessory, blue watches accessories, ridiculous little variants on plurals because the search engines were not great at figuring out that all these things sort of had the same intent and meant the same thing. So raw, rough keyword matching, exact keyword matching was part of SEO.

III. Keyword use in every tag possible

If there was a tag, you’d cram keywords into it.

IV. Domain name and subdomain keyword use

So this is why you saw that brands would be outranked by, to use our example, blue-watch-accessories.bluewatchaccessories.info, that kind of silly stuff would be ranking. Some of it even maintained for a while.

V. SEO writing was writing for engines and then trying not to annoy or piss off users

So, a lot of the time, people would want to cloak. They’d want to show one set of content to the search engines and another set to searchers, to actual users, because they knew that if they showed this dense, keyword-stuffed content to users, they’d be turned off and they wouldn’t find it credible and they’d go somewhere else.

“Writing for SEO” in 2008

2008, we evolve on a bunch of these fronts, but not all of them and certainly not perfectly.

I. Keywords are still important in important locations

II. Exact matching still matters in a lot of places. So people were crafting unique pages even for keywords that shared the same intent.

Blue watches and blue timepieces might have two different pages. Blue watch and blue watches could even have two separate pages and do effectively well in 2008. 2018, that’s not the case anymore.

III. Domain names were definitely less powerful, subdomains more so, but still influential

They …

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Posted by randfish'Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes' — it's a quote that's actually quite applicable when it comes to writing for SEO. Much of the advice given to copywriters, journalists, editors, and other content creators for SEO writing is dangerously out...