SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) copywriting is copywriting that is designed to rank well in search engines. Essentially, SEO copy is copy written with two audiences in mind. The first audience is the reader and the second is the Google Bot, or any other search engine crawler that ranks copy on the SERP (search engine results page.)
The beauty of SEO copywriting is that it allows you to improve your visibility and increase your web traffic without having to spend money on paid advertising like Google AdWords.
If you can direct enough traffic your way, you can start hosting third-party advertising on your blog page, through services like Google AdSense. So your dream of getting paid to write about Cambodian cuisine or the history of the Manchester rave scene may not be that far away.
Apart from getting on that prized first SERP page, writing SEO content will also assist you in creating genuinely relevant content. Content that resonates with readers and is shared across the web. Linkability is a massive aspect of SEO, so every time your blog is shared and mentioned on other sites, your copy is optimised. Essentially, Google is rewarding you for creating engaging copy that people are actually responding to.
So, if you thought SEO was all about coding, you were wrong. It’s about creating copy that adds to the online experience.
SEO Copywriting Tips
Be Relevant, Be Engaging
The best way to achieve these elusive, but crucial elements, is to research your audience. You can’t create copy for everyone; you have to find a section of the online population and pump out copy that they will want to read, share and endorse.
This can be done in one of two ways:
- Come up with an idea, i.e. a series of blogs about the influence of the American muscle car on Australian car manufacturing, and find your audience.
- Find your audience, i.e. Australian car enthusiasts, and come up with your idea.
Whichever option you choose, you need to do your work. That means audience research. Find out what your audience is looking at when they’re looking at it, where they come together and how they communicate. Not an easy task but it is doable.
Follow the Formula
You’ve just started out on your copywriting journey, and you want to be utterly original. You can be original but, and one of those things is the headline formula. Firstly, people love lists. They’re easy to read and if you find one of the items on the list boring you can skip to the next.
If you have a look at popular blogs and even magazine articles, you’ll start to notice a similarity between headlines. A lot of them use numbers, like ’10 ways to . . .’ or ‘The top 15 . . .’ ’12 steps to . . .’ The reason copywriters are sticking to these headlines is because they work and because they are lists that can be easily scanned.
There are also lots of ‘How to’s’ and ‘Way’s to.’ There is no shame in sticking to the formula, all you have to do is insert the topic, and voila, you have the perfect headline.
Subheadings are Your Friend
The web surfer loves headings; they appeal to a short-attention span and are great for skim reading. Subheadings are also great for SEO because the crawler can quickly tell what your copy is about and rank it by relevance to the particular search.
You should include subheadings in all of your copy; it makes your job easier as well because you can convey punchy little thoughts via digestible little sections.
The sentence case you choose for you subheadings is up to you, and it may vary depending on the headings. The important thing is to be consistent throughout your copy.
Font is Important
In fact, the font is very important. Simple fonts like Arial, Cambria or Times New Roman are safe and can be applied to anything. They are also easy to read. Fonts like Comic Sans or Lucida are genre specific and can be difficult to read.
You also need to choose a suitable font size, make sure you always preview your copy on the web before you publish it. If you’re squinting or your eyes hurt after a paragraph, change the font.
Long Blogs, Short Paragraphs
The longer your blog is, the more reach it will enjoy. A good guideline is about 800 words, anything less than 600 and you’re wasting your time. Longer blogs give off the idea of knowledge and expertise in writing, meaning people will share it, link to it and help you to optimise it.
You need to watch the length of your paragraphs. Remember, the web browser has a short attention span. Short paragraphs, broken up with subheadings will give you a better chance of reader response and reader engagement.
If you’re using keywords with high search volumes your facing a bit of an uphill battle, especially if you’re just starting out. By refining your keywords and choosing specific, three-four word phrase keywords you can rank higher in more specific searches. These types of keywords are called long-tail keywords, and they are the saviour of the fresh-faced copywriter.
Importantly, don’t fill your copy with keywords. This will look spammy, and the Google Bot has a keen eye for keyword cramming. Three to four keywords per 800-word blog are fine.
Hummingbird is also a great thing to target. This is the part of the Google SERP page where the question you typed in is answered. By providing concise answers to questions, you can up your ranking.
Remember, You’re Writing not Typing
SEO copywriting is the same as any other writing, meaning you still have to employ all the old tricks of the trade. So grab the reader by the scruff of the neck with some emotive language in the active voice and entrance them by speaking to them in the tongue they are used to. Put some effort into your prose, and your readership and SEO will grow.
An SEO Copywriters Work is Never Done
You need to update your content regularly. Firstly, the more recent and relevant your posts are the higher you will rank. Secondly, you need to keep giving readers something new so they will come back. You might hit your first couple of blogs out of the park, but you will quickly be forgotten unless you follow these up. Information also needs to be accurate and up-to-date, or Google will relegate you.
Stay On Top
You need to be aware of what’s trending and what people are interested in if you’re going to satisfy that all-important criterion of ‘relevance.’ Do your research and find out about the popular topics of conversation. There is a blog popping up every other day about the ‘Best Burgers in Melbourne’ and all of them are gaining traction. It doesn’t matter that there is a heap of them out there, all that matters is that people love burgers right now and they’ll probably read every blog about burgers that they come across.
Meta-descriptions are the little blurb of information that you see underneath each result on the SERP. They don’t take a long time to write, but they are incredibly important. In fact, all of your SEO efforts can be made redundant without a good meta-description, because they have a huge bearing on the amount of traffic that will be directed towards your page.
Mix Your Words with Imagery
Everyone loves images. Instagram has gone absolutely bonkers, and if you don’t make visuals a crucial part of your web page, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Google also loves images and that web browser with the short attention span that we keep banging on about loves them too.
Sights like Unsplash provide you with free, high-resolution images that could be the difference between the perfect SEO blog and a well-written web page that no one will ever see.
Link, Link, Link, Link
SEO is all about links. You need to provide links to pages that are relevant to your page. If someone is writing about a topic that is similar to yours don’t send a threatening e-mail – link with it. Search engines love it when you link to other good sites.
You also need to provide links between your own pages, this enhances the ‘crawlability’ of your site, and this is another way to put a smile on the Google Bot’s dial.
No Duplicate Content
There are significant SEO penalties for copy/pasters. Use a plagiarism checker to ensure that all of your copy is original.
You can find some great checkers on this review.
Just because you don’t have an editor or a professor checking your work doesn’t mean you can get away with sloppy grammar, spelling and punctuation. You need to be an authoritative source on whatever you’re writing about and a simple spelling, or grammatical mistake will quickly chip away at that authority.
There is Help Out There
You don’t have to battle through your SEO quest alone, check out this list of the best SEO tools to find the help you need.
The best part about writing for the web is that you can get real-time insights into how your page or site is performing. Google Analytics is a fantastic and free tool that allows you to see how much traffic you are generating.
You can find more monitoring tools here.