Google's 2024 SEO Recommendations
How to Approach SEO Copywriting
Big Human's 2024 SEO Guidelines
When helping our clients — Rockefeller Center and TodayTix Group, among them — out with search engine optimization (SEO), we typically run into a few repeat questions and obstacles. The terms “word count” and “keywords” often appear in these queries. “How long will it take to rank on the first page of Google?” is another FAQ. And when it comes to the puzzle of presenting a brand narrative while still optimizing copy… well, it’s a challenge we love to tackle head-on.
Depending on your familiarity with SEO, you may or may not be aware of Google’s 2023 algorithm updates. While we don’t know the exact algorithm formulas the search engine implements (we just know they’re complex), it’s always a good idea to follow their core update advice. After all, those top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs) have the ability to significantly move the traffic needle. And while SEO best practices and Google’s updates, launches, and refreshes may be dynamic, there are a few ways we’re approaching digital copywriting in 2024.
With the addition of GPT (and similar AI copy-generating tools) into our technology toolkit, the search engine is actively working to combat spam-like content. In Google’s own words, anyone pushing content online should “[focus] on ensuring you're offering the best content you can.” That may seem obvious, but the September 2023 algorithm “helpful content update” clarifies this even further. It reads: “The helpful content system aims to better reward content where visitors feel they've had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn't meet a visitor's expectations won't perform as well.”
TL;DR: Any content on your website, whether it’s a blog, a service page, or an informational “about” page, should succinctly and accurately answer the questions or concerns the reader may be looking for.
The current SEO landscape isn’t one where a plug-and-play type of strategy will do much good. When talking about copywriting, specifically, however, there are ways that you can approach it that will help increase your chances of appearing in the top SERP positions.
We usually start content projects with an audit of what’s currently on a client’s site. Is there content that could be working harder? Are there gaps in the current content, areas that can be filled by new pages or new articles? Think about it like this: Most pieces of content on your site can do some of the SEO legwork. No, not every page needs (or can) rank on the first page of Google, but you don’t want pages to harm your overall site.
At Big Human, we’re complete proponents of artificial intelligence (check out our experimental tool Literally Anything), but we also understand that content-generating technology doesn’t always hit the mark. Especially when it’s used as a way to populate pages in hopes of ranking well on search engines. After all, Google rewards those who don’t use “spammy automatically generated content.”
H2s and H3s are not only good places for keywords; they’re also a low-lift way to ensure your content is easily digestible — by both search engines and the people who find your content through them.
If you’ve ever worked with copywriters, marketers, or content managers (or you’re one yourself), then E-E-A-T — Google’s quality rater guideline — is likely in your vocabulary. In late 2022, Google updated its policy with the additional “E,” experience, asking publishers to approach their content with the following questions:
“Does content also demonstrate that it was produced with some degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place, or communicating what a person experienced?”
Experience — as well as expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (the other parts of E-E-A-T) — should be incorporated into your copywriting, whether that means you’re highlighting the experience in your industry or introducing users to the people behind your product or brand.
Outside of the above approaches to SEO, we suggest clients (and anyone, really) follow a few general best practices when producing digital content. These include:
Longer-form content (usually) tends to outperform shorter content. If possible, aim for at least 700 words per page. We understand this isn’t always possible, though — so don’t force it if it’s not working.
Keyword research is how you’ll identify the relevant keywords and phrases your target audience is probably using when searching for information related to your content. Tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner or Semrush will help find valuable keywords, those with a decent search volume and low competition.
Let’s get this out of the way: Google isn’t going to like keyword stuffing — it’s definitely a sign the content wasn’t created with a user-first mindset. We recommend focusing on three to four keywords per page. Make sure you’ve included them in the headline, subheadings, metadata, and throughout the body — but it’s still readable and, yes, sounds good. Typically, we like to aim for a good keyword density of around 1-2% of the total word count.
By adding internal links within your content, you’ll help guide users to other pages on your website. Additionally, when you incorporate external links to authoritative sources, you’re supporting your claims and providing additional value to readers.
If your content isn’t accurate, it’s not helpful. This means that you may write something once, but you’ll want to monitor keyword rankings, user engagement, and search engine algorithms and make necessary adjustments and optimizations as time goes on.