Why a Strong SEO Foundation Really Pays Off

Blog, SEO


I recently had the pleasure of writing about a 14,000 square-foot home in a cozy little community near Houston. It’s a gorgeous house (the pool… unbelievable!) and it was a lot of fun to write about.

My SEO Experiment

The broker who found me to ask me to write her luxury real estate listing description typed hire a real estate writer into Google. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I wrote “What Animal Eats Begonias?” to show in real-time how SEO works (and why it works). The follow ups, SEO Experiment Update (VIDEO) and SEO Experiment Update: Still #1 and Still Branching Out can give you a little more insight on how SEO is a developmental process that keeps paying off over time.

The bottom line: When you start an SEO project, stick with it. Let it grow. Continue to build on it.

It’s going to pay off for a long, long time.

SERP Experiment Update: Still #1, and Branching Out!

Blog, Copywriting, Google, SEO

Several months ago, I targeted a simple, low-traffic search term to test my ability to rank a page in the search engines using only content.

I wrote a piece called “What Animal Eats Begonias?” and it quickly jumped to the top spot in the search engine results pages, or SERPs. I checked again about a month later, and my page was still #1 in the SERPs.

I’m probably the best SEO copywriter I know.

Best SEO Copywriter

Branching Out in the SERPs Thanks to Hummingbird

Today, I discovered that thanks to Hummingbird, I’m even coming out on top for similar searches. If you query what eats begonias, you still get my page.

Best SEO Copywriter in the U.S.

I really want to get into the “Featured Snippet” spot — that’s where you see SF Gate in the screenshot above — but to be fair, that site is more helpful to people who want an answer to the query.

Getting Into Google’s Featured Snippet

Where I do belong in the Featured Snippet is for queries such as how many words can fit in a tri-fold brochure. I’m in the second-place spot for that query, though, and I’m fine with that. That query links to a piece I wrote in September: “How Many Words Can Fit in a Tri-Fold Brochure?

Great SEO Copywriter

I keep linking to these pieces in subsequent posts, which also helps ensure they’re cemented in those top spots. (This is the first time I’ve linked back to the brochure page, though, so I’ll keep monitoring that page to watch for it to get into the featured snippet box.)

This is the Kind of SEO Copywriting I Provide for My Clients

Many of my clients ask me to write 10, 15, or even 20 blog posts per month.

First, I build a foundation for their blogs. I answer basic questions (and basic Google queries) with their posts. As the blog ages and the posts rack up, I continue to link back to those older posts — the ones that make up the foundation of the entire blog.

I look at it like it’s a pyramid. The strong, foundational posts are at the bottom, and I keep building up from there. (I’m definitely more artistic when it comes to words… so forgive my underwhelming visual.)Best SEO Content Writer

Want to Talk About Your SEO Strategy?

Call me at 808-542-5975. (Actually, I prefer text or email, but whatever works for you will work for me. If it’s the middle of the night, please use email or my handy-dandy contact form.)


SEO Experiment Update: I’m Still #1 in the SERPs (VIDEO)

Blog, Google, How-To, Keywords, SEO

A few months ago, I conducted a little SEO experiment to show my clients how amazing a long-tail keyword can be. The first update to the SEO experiment, just three days after I created a page titled “What Animal Eats Begonias,” showed that I was in the 6th spot of organic results on Google for that term.

Today, I’m in the top spot. (Seriously — Google the term and you can see it yourself.)

Why Long-Tail Keywords Matter

The term I used is a great example of a long-tail keyword. It’s descriptive, and the Googlebot understands it. The page is optimized for Hummingbird, Google’s core search algorithm that’s brilliantly designed with a whole question and user intent in mind.

It’s also used in all the right ways on the page I created, which helps it rank — and stay ranked — on Google. Even this piece, which links to the page (in the first paragraph), is serving to help that page keep its place on the top spot.

Check out the screencast that shows you why it works:

It’s the #1 organic result for that search term.

It gets all the clicks.

It brings a ton of traffic to my website, actually, and because it actually answers the question, it’s locked into that top spot.


You can always hire someone who knows what she’s doing with SEO if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, too.

My SEO Experiment: Update

Blog, Blogging, Cool Stuff, SEO, Website Copy

Three days ago, on May 2, 2016, I published a page on my site called “What Animal Eats Begonias?” because I wanted to show that ranking for an exact-match, long-tail keyword is super-easy… if you know what you’re doing.SEO experiment - Unique Web Copy

Just three days later (admittedly, I forgot about it until just now or I’d have checked yesterday and the day before), my website is in 6th place in the organic search results for that exact-match term on Google. (Notice that I don’t even bother with Yoast SEO anymore because it has nothing to do with semantic search; I only use it to input my meta descriptions and meta titles.)

SEO experiment Unique Web Copy

If I promote that page by sharing it across social networks, or if I promote this page, that page will climb in the rankings. I made sure to fill it with information that answers the question, which means readers will find it useful, too… and that’ll help it climb in the rankings, as well.

Why did I choose that term?

It gets about 10 searches per month, according to Google, so it’s relatively low-competition. However, what really got me is that people are searching for it and nobody was targeting it.

An SEO experiment by Unique Web Copy - Angie Papple Johnston

That’s one of the things I do for my clients–find keywords that will help them show up in the search engine results pages, or SERPs–and include them in their blog posts. That way, they’re being found. The keyword I chose in this instance will only help me in a roundabout way; it won’t bring me sick animals that have eaten begonias, but it will bring me clients who understand the value of regular blogging services.

(Just FYI, I do monthly blogging packages that start at $99 and include 400 to 500 words of amazingly informative text, custom photo graphics, meta titles and meta descriptions, which are all great for SEO.)


How to Make a Link Open in a New Page if Your Site is Hosted by Zola Creative Media

Blog, SEO

If your site is hosted by Zola Creative Media and you need to add content with links embedded, you’ll need to format your links correctly within the template in order to get them to open in a new window.

Naturally, it’s always a good idea to have your links open in a new tab or a new window entirely; that way, you won’t risk losing your site’s visitors when they click an outbound link.

Here’s a short video on how to create outbound links that open in a new page when your site is hosted by Zola Creative Media.

<iframe width=”853″ height=”480″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe> Selling Spam Links to Veterans (Don’t Fall for It)

Blog, Link Directories, SEO
As I was cruising Facebook this morning, someone asked me to elaborate on a comment I’d made on a link directory’s sponsored post. I don’t want to point any fingers (not really, anyway), but people who attempt to take advantage of veterans without caring about the consequences really piss me off.

What is Doing to Vets?

Here’s my take on what this Veteran Owned Business Directory is doing. They’re getting thousands (tens of thousands) of veterans to sign up for inclusion in their spammy link directory. However, they’re selling advertising because business owners don’t know any better than to buy.
Veteran Owned Business Directory Selling Ads to Vets - Link Directories Are BAD for Your SEO
Screenshot taken on 09 MAR 2016 from
I replied to the guy who asked me for clarification on the original post:
Sure – Google’s Matt Cuts, the head of the “Webspam Team,” says that link directories are bad news.
Google evaluates websites, in part, based on the company they keep. So if reputable sites (such as those with a .edu or .gov extension) are linking to yours, Google feels that you have something its searchers want to see.
If link directories, which Google considers to be junk, are linking to you, the Googlebot (Google’s crawler) will believe your site is junk as well.
Remember that Google has one mission: to make searchers happy. If they deliver junk sites, people will switch search engines. If they deliver high-quality sites, more people will use them.
It may not be fair, but if you have links from link directories and none from reputable sources (other websites with high value and those with .gov or .edu extensions), the Googlebot will think that your website doesn’t have anything that searchers will find worthwhile.
Part of Google’s core algorithm is called Hummingbird. Hummingbird comes into your site, determines what it’s about using technology called LSI, or latent semantic indexing. That’s how they can tell what it’s about and whether it’s going to be relevant to searchers.
The other parts of Google’s core algorithm are Penguin and Panda, which devalue sites based on their backlink profiles. (A link coming into your site is called a backlink.) If you have backlinks from directories that Google considers spam, you will have a problem with Penguin and Panda.
They use more than 200 metrics to determine whether a site is worth delivering to searchers, but having links from link directories is bad news – it’s a negative against you right out of the gate.
If it’s tough to get listed in a directory, such as it is to get listed in DMOZ, then it may not be a spam directory. However, free link directories, such as this one, may be considered spam by Google.
Here’s further reading if you’re interested:

Should Veterans Put a Link on

The answer to whether veterans should put a link on is a resounding NO.

I am a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom 5 and Operation Iraqi Freedom 7-9.

If I wasn’t an SEO professional, I wouldn’t know any better… and I don’t expect any of the veterans listed on that directory to know better, either.

The fact is that there are companies that exist solely to prey on veterans. I’m not saying that this company didn’t have good intentions, but their service is anything but helpful.

If you’re a veteran (or anyone else, for that matter), steer clear of link directories unless you’re putting a link in DMOZ or another site that you’ve thoroughly researched. There’s no reason to take the chance on harming your site’s ranking — particularly when there are far better ways to rank in the search engine results pages, or SERPs.

VIDEO: How to Do Basic Keyword Research Using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool

Blog, How-To, SEO, Website Copy

How to Do Basic Keyword Research Using Google’s Keyword Planner Tool

This short video walks you through every step of conducting basic keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner tool.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner tool is tremendously helpful when you’re looking for great terms to use to ensure that you’re in the position to come up on Google organic searches.

It isn’t the only tool you should use, but if you’re new to SEO and you’re trying to write your own copy, it’s a great way to get an idea of what you need to write and which terms you need to target.

(If you don’t have the time to do all of this, don’t worry – I can do it for you!)


Did You Get a B.S. “SEO” Email?

Blog, SEO


I always think it’s hilarious when SEO “experts” email me about improving my on-site SEO.

Today, I got this:

Hello Web Admin, I noticed that your On-Page SEO is is missing a few factors, for one you do not use all three H tags in your post, also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization. On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda. No longer are backlinks and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings, You now NEED On-Page SEO. So what is good On-Page SEO?First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….wait there’s even more Now what if i told you there was a simple WordPress plugin that does all the On-Page SEO, and automatically for you? That’s right AUTOMATICALLY, just watch this 4minute video for more information at.,,

Let me pick this apart so you can see that this email belongs in the trash. Please don’t fall for it.

Picking Apart the Scammy SEO Email

for one you do not use all three H tags in your post

There are more than three H tags. In fact, there are seven.

Google likes to see these because they help the spiders follow the main theme of your page – and readers like them so they can skim. They are good for SEO, which is why your subheads should be H2 tags (mine are). If you’re breaking those subheads into smaller pieces that are deserving of another heading, then use H3 tags. Breaking it down to H7 tags is ridiculous in most cases.

also I notice that you are not using bold or italics properly in your SEO optimization

Bold and italics have nothing to do with search engine optimization. (Also, it kind-of gets on my nerves when someone says “SEO optimization,” just like it does if someone says “ATM machine.”)

On-Page SEO means more now than ever since the new Google update: Panda

Well, this is awkward. Panda wasn’t the last Google update. As of this writing, RankBrain was. On-page SEO has always been important… but the way these people do it (I’ve seen their site) will earn you a Google smackdown (which is probably why they’ve resorted to emailing website owners rather than getting Internet traffic of their own). Hummingbird rendered keyword density useless.

First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing).

Yes, your keyword should appear in the title and the URL. A keyword density of 3 to 5 percent is ludicrous. Yes, I said ludicrous. That means you’ll need to use the same keyword three to five times in every 100 words. That used to be a good idea… in 2006.

The fact that they refer to LSI, which is a thing, shows that their keyword suggestion is ridiculous.

Latent semantic indexing is something that search engine crawlers use to find out what your page is about by connecting related words; that means if you’re an attorney writing about a specific crime — let’s use car theft — the search engines can tell what your page is about if you use related terms, such as theft, carjacking, hot-wiring, felonyprison, sentence, parole… you get the picture. That’s precisely why you don’t need to have that ridiculous keyword density.

You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword

Again, this has zero to do with SEO. In fact, all it will serve to do is annoy and distract your reader.

Let me tell you something that’s totally not a secret: Google puts user experience first. Period. If users don’t like your site, Google doesn’t like your site. SEO tactics, techniques and “tricks” be damned… if it’s not written and designed for users, Google won’t deliver it on the search engine results pages, or SERPs.

Don’t Let SEO Idiots Trick You

These people pass themselves off as SEO “experts,” but they don’t know the first thing about SEO. They truly don’t. They want to sell you a WordPress plugin and services that will actually harm your website’s rankings.


Yoast SEO and Semantic Search with Google

Blog, Blogging, Google, SEO, Website Content, Website Copy


When you’re relying solely on one SEO tool, you might get the wrong idea about how “healthy” your pages are when it comes to SEO and Google.

Yoast SEO is a fantastic tool, especially when you need a fast, easy way to add meta descriptions and meta titles.

However, it doesn’t tell you anything valuable when it comes to the SEO on your page – only that you’ve used your target keyword at least once in every important area.

Yoast SEO and Semantic Search with Google

You’ll notice that Yoast SEO and semantic search with Google aren’t necessarily on the same page. Sure, Yoast can tell you that you’ve included your keyword — but you need to know that Google is smart, and so is their semantic search algorithm.

Watch the video. You’ll see that Yoast SEO is limited by exact match keywords. That means if the keyword you input isn’t an exact match to something in each category they look at, they will think that your SEO is not as good as it should be.

Yoast looks at whether your exact-match keyword is in your:

  • Article heading
  • Page title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta description

Here’s the Yoast evaluation of this post:

Yoast SEO and semantic search with Google - Unique Web Copy

How Hummingbird Changed the Way the Googlebot “Sees” Things

With Hummingbird, Google revamped the way search engines find and index website content. They now look at things in context rather than by counting the number of times you mention your keyword on a page.

So what does that mean to you?

You can use variations of your key terms and Google will still understand what your page is about.

Google isn’t going to have any trouble understanding what this page is about.

In fact, it’ll get ranked and indexed, and you’ll probably be able to find it whether you type an exact match to my “keyword” or not.

Why? Because of their super-smart algorithm that picks up on cues, synonyms and… well, semantics.

Should You Use Free Articles on Your Website?

Articles, Blog, Blogging, Google, SEO

There are a lot of tempting deals out there, and using free articles is one of them. If your business doesn’t have the budget to build out your website content, but you know you need pages (you do!), it might seem like a good idea to populate your site with freebies.

Let me put it bluntly: you’d be better off putting nothing at all on your website.

You’d be better off writing it yourself (even if you’re a terrible writer).

Here’s why.

Free Articles for Your Website Have Hidden Costs

Things that are published on the Internet are time- and date-stamped. Google’s bots are more intelligent than ever, so when they find two pieces of content that are identical, which one do you think they’re going to offer to searchers?

The one that’s been online longer.

That means you went to the trouble of populating your site with all these preexisting articles for nothing.

But it gets worse.

When the Googlebot figures out that you have identical content, they might even penalize your website. They do that by knocking the entire site (not just the copied pages) out of search engine results pages entirely.

Then nobody will find you.

The Best Alternative to Free Website Articles

Because you do need original content to survive online, start scratching out some ideas. You can write your copy yourself if you don’t have the budget to hire a writer.

Run it through the spellchecker and use something like Grammarly to make sure you’re not butchering it completely if you’re not a particularly talented wordsmith.

Just please, please, please… for your site’s sake, don’t use free articles on your website.