As a result of Google’s Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm updates; SEO content writing has developed enormously in the last few years. Before the updates were put into place, all too often content writing was simply about stuffing content with keywords. The writing services available advertised their ability to use the correct keywords in the right places and in the correct density to be able to rank the page on Google for a specific term. Surprisingly, there are still some SEO content writers around who continue to offer this service.

The purpose of written content on a page is to help Google’s ‘spiders’, which crawl around the web, to understand what a particular web page is about. This is why content writers need to make sure that the spiders can see the content clearly, this is done by using clear, relevant phrases and paragraphs. The spiders index the content they ‘read’ in Google’s vast database and consider how relevant that content is to what the users actually want to see when they’re searching on the web.

Panda bites back at low quality content

Google’s first update that concentrated on content, Panda, was initiated in 2011. Google Panda focuses on lower quality content. Its aim is to try and lower weak and keyword stuffed content in the search results. The Panda algorithm update also targets duplicate content. Content that exists on multiple pages or websites across the web is not likely to rank well on Google, resulting in less organic search engine traffic to your website.

Once Panda has identified your website as low quality, it can be extremely tough to recover. To prevent being hit by Panda, you should focus on unique content that is compelling and useful to your target audience.

For more information, this article from Search Engine Watch on Google Panda basics is pretty helpful.

Penguin gets spammers in a flap

In 2012, Google’s Penguin update was introduced in order to scan websites for any spam activity. This means that any links with no valuable content and all spammy pages that just have a repetition of keywords and keyword strings are found, scanned and consequently ranked lower in search results. This is to unclog search results and keep the results relevant to the search. This doesn’t mean you should stop using keywords completely; it’s still important to include keywords to help the bots understand what your content is about.

The most important thing is that your writing flows naturally. As long as your content makes sense, is relevant and interesting, repeating keywords a couple of times is fine, in fact in some cases it may be unavoidable to repeat a word multiple times, Google will recognise this and your website will not be affected negatively. Another aspect that Penguin targets is anchor text, you shouldn’t just use keywords on their own in the page links, try and include related words too. This article on how Google’s Penguin update affects SEO copywriters is a handy guide and gives some more information if you’re interested.

Google’s biggest algorithm change since 2001 – Hummingbird

The most recent, major update was in 2013 when Google launched the Hummingbird algorithm; the biggest change since the last new algorithm was put in place in 2001. Hummingbird benefits websites with original and engaging content. The algorithm rewards websites with legitimate backlinks, earned using proper SEO. Ultimately the objective is to rank the websites with the most relevant content highest, and identifying and lowering those that have keyword stuffed, duplicate and generally weak content.

Hummingbird also makes it a lot easier for people to find what they are looking for, taking into account the full meaning of a search rather than just picking out keywords. This means that searchers can type in a question and Google will identify it and give results answering it or anything with strong relevance, for example your question might have been asked on ask.com or Yahoo answers, and Google will show them near the top of the search results. The Content Marketing Institute write about three commandments of content marketing strategy for Google Hummingbird success.


Thanks to Google’s algorithms, answers are more easily found. A user of Google can search by asking a question, and the algorithms will create a list of all the most relevant websites.

These are just Google’s major updates in the last few years; they roll out smaller updates all the time, constantly tweaking and evolving their search algorithm so they can deliver the most relevant results to each searcher.

Looking for content optimised for search engines?

If you’re looking to add content to your website and are thinking about hiring an SEO copywriter, don’t choose the cheapest option available, because as you now know; content writing is an important role in order to get ranked highly on search engines. Content needs to be engaging and inviting, and it is vital if you want to create a successful website, so you want to ensure that the job is done properly.

As I mentioned above, there are still content writing services available that tell you about keyword density and other outdated practices. When looking to outsource content, you should make sure that the writers are native English speakers, or able to write to this standard, and that they will be creating unique content that’s not spun.

Over to you

Tell us your experiences of Google’s algorithm updates. How have they affected the content on your site? Leave us a comment below.

Did you know, Sleeping Giant Media offer an SEO content writing service?