Did Panda kill SEO copywriting?

I didn’t know that one of Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday videos could cause someone to worry about her career path. But that’s exactly what happened.

Yesterday, I received an email from a talented SEO copywriter who had watched Rand’s video, “How Google’s Panda Update Changed Search Engine Optimization Forever.” She said:

“What stood out to me was this notion, to paraphrase, Writing good, unique and useful optimized content is not enough anymore. Google actually penalizes pages that are written for SEO, such as 200-word pages that are helpful, topic-specific and have keywords woven in, and inbound links. Even if they answer the visitors’ questions and include a strong offer and call to action, that’s not good enough for Google Panda. All web pages must have personality, great photos, videos or images, something to offer that’s different from all the boilerplate stuff out there.”

Her fear? Rand’s message meant that solid SEO copywriting won’t help sites post-Panda – or not as much as it did before.

This misconception bums me out.That’s not what Rand  was saying – but it shows how much confusion swirls around Panda and SEO content. In fact, Barry Schwartz reported that Google’s Susan Moskwa has implored folks to quit reading tin foil SEO articles. (Hat tip to Barry who found the best photo ever for the post!).

Quality SEO copywriting is alive and well. Panda just killed the “junk.”

Remember, some people thought the definition of “SEO copywriting” meant something completely different than what it really was (and is.) Pre-Panda, many site owners (and SEO companies) routinely spit out low-quality content that was narrowly focused around keywords. It wasn’t quality content. It wasn’t even written for users, really. It was written with one goal in mind: Search engine positioning.

That’s the content that was penalized. Not quality SEO writing (if you’re wondering what quality SEO writing is, check out this post about building high-quality sites by Amit Singhal of Google).

After all, words are the connective tissue of the Web.

Rand says in his video:

“As SEOs, we never really had to think as much or as broadly about, “What is the experience of this website? Is it creating a brand that people are going to love and share and reward and trust?” Now we kind of have to think about that. It is almost like the job of SEO has been upgraded from SEO to web strategist.”

The thing is, high-quality SEO copywriters have always thought about the experience – that’s part of developing the site’s tone and feel. We’ve always dived into customer personas and created user-driven content. Every word we’ve written was designed to build trust. To build brand. To educate. To inspire. The search engine “stuff” was almost secondary.

Plus, when SEO copywriters can work in tandem with IT, marketing, design and branding – magical things can happen.

So, did Panda kill SEO copywriting? Heck no!

Is good content here to stay? Yes.

Can SEO copywriters still make a difference? You bet.

All is well. :)