At the Center for Imaginary Research at the University of Make Believe, it was found that as many as 113% of online marketers have no idea how search engine optimization works, and another 23% doesn’t understand how to do math.
The truth about online marketing – and by extension copywriting – is that everything people “know” about showing up in search engines is a guess. What we know is that the algorithm is based on considerable research by some of the brightest minds in the world, and that it updates regularly to ensure that it provides the most accurate results possible.
That’s it. That’s all we know.
From there we have theories. We know that incoming links plays a role, and we know that original writing, keywords, and some semblance of quality play a role, but no one knows how those roles affect the algorithm. Anyone that claims they have cracked the Google code is simply using a marketing tactic to generate business. Even in the event that some firm was able to crack the Google code, the algorithm changes regularly, and whatever they “cracked” is quickly rendered moot. Or at least, moot-ish.
The Known Unknowns
Because there are so many questions concerning the algorithm, theories on how to break the code have led to some curious conclusions. One example is superfluous formatting. It’s widely believed in the Internet marketing world that putting all keywords in bold helps improve their search engine ranking. But why? Why would Google have allowed something that could be so easily abused? It’s highly unlikely that the Google algorithm takes bolding into account – at least enough to change the weight of the website. Most likely, those that added bold to their keywords also took advantage of other known aspects of SEO (such as keyword density) and simply misattributed their success to the bold highlighting.
That does not mean that we’re completely in the dark about what works and what doesn’t. Quite the contrary, while there are few “knowns” in copywriting, there are many known-unknowns – things we know that we don’t completely know. For example:
- We know how keyword density works and how to integrate it into writing, but we don’t know how much that keyword integration is appreciated by the Google algorithm when compared to a different article with a similar keyword density.
- We know that the quantity of pages is very important to the Google algorithm, but we don’t know how many pages it takes to make an impact. All we know is that more=better, so online marketing requires a steady flow of new articles and pages to help appease the algorithm Gods.
- We know that incoming links are important for improving SEO, but we don’t know how and why the algorithm decides to count some links over others, and what value it gives each link.
There are countless other known unknowns as well, including length of pages, quality of writing, originality, and so on.
What a Copywriter Does with This
As a copywriter, the key is to integrate as many of these known unknowns as possible into every piece of writing. We know exactly what works – we’ve helped countless clients achieve these goals with their own work – what we don’t know is exactly how perfectly each piece of writing works.
It is the reason that copywriting is an ongoing project. You would never simply throw up a webpage and hope that it magically gets a million hits. You keep writing and keep working to make sure you are continually adding copy that utilizes the “known unknowns” until the website successfully reaches its spot in Google.
We know that no one but Google truly “knows” how the Google algorithm works, and even if we did, it would change within a week and we’d have to start from scratch. Instead, copywriting involves taking the known-unknowns, crafting the best content possible, and continuing to create that content until the algorithm has been successfully bested.