Copywriting tips for great Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Copywriting for great performance in search engine results can be a daunting task. Here are some handy tips for any beginners looking to write their own website content for SEO.
The main contributors to SEO performance
Google and other search engines display web pages in their search results based on the authority and relevance of each page:
- Google determines the relevance of your page by analysing its content based on several factors, including where and how often you use certain words in that piece of content.
- Google measures authority by the number of links pointing to that page and how trustworthy those links are.
While SEO copywriting is focused primarily on content, great content also helps generate links (and traffic) to your website.
Decide on your keywords
What are the terms you use within and to describe your business? Do you use different words and phrases depending on whether you are talking to colleagues, suppliers and customers? What terms are your colleagues, suppliers and customers more likely to use? Are they more or less technical depending on the types of audience?
Start by writing a list of keywords that you would use to describe each of your products and services and then ask yourself…
- Is the keyword relevant to your website's content?
- Will searchers find what they are looking for on your site when they search using these keywords?
- Will this traffic result in financial rewards or other organisational goals?
Do your research
Google's AdWords Keyword Planner tool (http://adwords.google.com/keywordplanner) is a common starting point for SEO keyword research.
It not only suggests keywords and provides estimated search volume, but also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns for these terms. To determine volume for a particular keyword, be sure to set the Match Type to [Exact] and look under Local Monthly Searches.
Remember that these represent total searches. Depending on your ranking and click-through rate, the actual number of visitors you achieve for these keywords will usually be much lower.
Search for your terms/phrases in the major engines
Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
Page titles / headlines
In SEO copywriting, your headline should attract people’s attention, then prompt them to click and read further.
The most important place your keywords should appear is in the title tag of the page. The nice thing about blogging software is that your post or page title will be automatically transformed into title tags and either an H1 or H2 heading tag as well. Remember, your headline should wrap your keywords in a pithy promise that perfectly communicates what the content has to offer.
For SEO purposes, the Page Title should be 50-60 characters, or as many characters as will fit into a 512-pixel display. If you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly
Before writing your content, and again before publishing it, use Meta descriptions to help guide search engines. Meta descriptions help search engines and searchers understand what the topic is and why your targeted keywords and phrases keep appearing in the content.
Google uses the Meta description on your page as a snippet when people search for keywords that are relevant to your page. This snippet copy is what will determine whether or not you get clicks, no matter how highly you rank in the search results.
For SEO purposes, the Meta description should be 150 – 160 characters.
Make sure your articles have a minimum of 300 words. Google likes long articles, if your article is too long though it might scare away users. So try to stop at around 700 words, however Longer posts (1,500 words +) also enable you to provide more value for readers, which helps you establish authority and expertise.
While longer blog posts and articles generally outperform shorter ones, longer paragraphs do not. Chunky blocks of text just bore and intimidate readers – not what you want. For best results, it is best to keep paragraphs short (2-4 sentences).
It is often worth repeating the targeted keyword(s) in the opening sentence, as long as it can be done in a way that is appealing to a reader and reinforces relevance. Many search engines use this initial copy as the description of the content (see Meta description) so you want to make sure you are accurately persuading the searcher to click through.
If your text is longer than 250-400 words, you must use subheadings. Keywords should also be used in any subheadings that will aid your readers in navigating down the page. A page that matches up well with the targeted keyword phrase will find natural opportunities to restate keywords in subheads, as an introduction to the next topical section of the page. Subheadings are typically created using the H3 tag.
Include related words & synonyms:
Good copy should naturally result in words that are related to, as well as synonyms for, the keyword phrases you are after – particularly where there is a lot of technical terminology used. Rather than mindlessly repeating the same words ad nauseam, assume that search algorithms are advanced enough to look for proper contextually-related words that support your targeted keywords.
One of the hallmarks of great copy is specific, descriptive words in lieu of bland general terminology. Specificity aids the reader by clearly demonstrating relevancy, allows for more dynamic copy, and provides opportunities to increase the general on-page keyword frequency. Make sure to employ your specific keywords when feasible within the context of the copy, rather than rely on generic wording.
Cover trending topics:
Covering hot new topics and industry news is an excellent way to get to the top of the search results pages fast, as everybody wants to know the latest and greatest.
Link to related content:
If you have already written some content about the topic of your current post, don’t forget to link to these posts. It will make your post stronger because you show some authority on the subject. Next to that, your link-structure is also of importance for your ranking in Google.
ALWAYS include a Call to Action (CTA)
Your copy should always conclude with a call to action that prompts the reader to travel down the path you desire. Is it to purchase, contact, subscribe or simply continue reading? Your primary keywords should naturally fit in with the next step you want the reader to take.
A note on keyword frequency
Keyword frequency is how many times your chosen keywords appear on the web page. This is generally disregarded now, but who wants to read content that says the same keyword again and again?
Avoid on-page optimisation mistakes like keyword stuffing, excessive keyword insertion, and header tag stuffing. The only way to tell if your repetition of keywords is super or ‘spammy’ is to measure that frequency against the overall length of the content: a keyword density greater than 5.5% could find you guilty of keyword stuffing, and your page could be penalised by Google. You don’t need to mindlessly repeat keywords to optimize. In fact, if you do, you’re likely to achieve the opposite result.
When you have drafted your copy, if you are not using an existing plugin to monitor this, check out http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/.
Keep your content regularly updated
Updating your content regularly is important, for search engines and readers. Search engines favour posts that are more recent and relevant because that is what their users want. Your readers and prospects want the same thing – accurate, up-to-date info.
Adding actual and functional information to your website will give Google the idea that your website is alive. If it’s not an active website, Google will crawl it less often and it might become less appealing to Google to include the page in the search results.
How are you doing with your SEO copywriting? We'd love to hear your suggestions and what's been working for you. Please add your comments below.
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