The Bare Bones of SEO Copywriting
These days it seems that search engine optimisation (SEO) and copywriting go hand in hand. Writing content to be published online requires at least a basic knowledge of SEO practices, while improving your site’s ranking and visibility online requires good, well written content.
While SEO copywriting used to be considered a specialist area, now a rudimentary understanding of SEO is mandatory not just for copywriters but for anyone who is writing a blog or who wants to make sure they get the best possible results from their website in terms of visibility, increased traffic and search engine rankings.
Understanding SEO can help your website rank higher for organic searches, potentially saving you money on paid advertising. It’s important to be aware that the rules of SEO are not set in stone, Google likes to keep us all on our toes by constantly updating its search algorithm so best practices now may be completely disastrous in six months or a year.
Although SEO can get very technical and I am by no means an SEO expert, if you are new to the world of SEO and online copywriting, here are a few non-technical basics you may want to keep in mind.
Make long tail keywords your friends
In an increasingly saturated online world, the competition for keywords is fierce and websites that are just starting out and don’t have a huge budget for SEO activities can really struggle to get a foothold. If you don’t want to be stuck on the 50th page of Google for all eternity, its well worth moving away from single keywords and looking at relevant targeted phrases.
These longer phrases are more specific than single keywords, are usually less highly competitive and can help ensure that you are bringing visitors to your site who are interested in exactly what you have to offer.
Let’s say you run an accountancy firm in Sydney that specialises in helping small businesses with their day to day accounts. You might think that “accounting services” would be a good keyword but chances are you and everyone else will be targeting those two words, including the big players with the big budget SEO teams all over the world. Also, many of these sites won’t necessarily offer the same services as you, or be in the right locality which means that people who are searching for general accounting services may not find what you do relevant.
Using a long tail keyword like “accounting services in Sydney,” or even better, “small business accounting services in Sydney” is much more likely to move you up the ranks and bring the right visitors to your site. The right visitors being those who are looking for what you do, where you do it and who once they find you, are far more likely to spend time on your site and get in touch.
Write SEO friendly titles
You may have already heard that the headline is the most important part of your content and this is true not only from a reader point of view, but also from an SEO perspective. Your headline will not only draw people in and make them want to read the full piece of content, it also tells the search engine robots what the blog post or piece of web content is about so it can be categorised properly.
Title headers carry more weight than the body of your content when it comes to search engine visibility. This means its important to make the most of your titles by making them SEO friendly. While a catchy, clever title may read well, if it doesn’t contain your target keywords and make it clear what the article is about, it’s probably not going to get the best results.
Use related words and phrases
As well as using your designated keywords in your content, it’s also important that you use other related words and phrases. This can help in two ways: it makes your content more readable and less repetitive and it also helps the search engines correctly categorise what your content is about. You don’t need to write like you swallowed a thesaurus, but using a few different terms for some of your main keywords can help you ensure you have covered all your bases and given the search engines the right idea about your content.
Customise your meta descriptions
The meta description is the snippet of content that appears below the title on the search engine results pages (SERPs). When you publish your piece of content you usually have the option of writing your own customised meta description or letting your CMS use the default option which usually involves using a snippet of the content.
From an SEO perspective, writing your own meta descriptions means that you can make sure your target keywords are included for extra visibility. From a readership perspective, your meta description is one of the most powerful tools that can help readers make up their mind whether to click through and read your content. A customised, persuasive meta description can make a big difference so don’t waste the space.
Don’t publish duplicate content
Want to use that great guest article you wrote on your blog? Publishing duplicate content on multiple sites is never a good idea when it comes to your SEO. If two sites are showing the same articles, your potential traffic will be divided between them and this can impact your number of visitors as well as your conversion rate.
If you have a great blog post or article you would like to reuse, the best option is to rewrite it so that it isn’t a word-for-word duplicate before you republish it on another site.
Link to quality sites
Links have long been an integral part of good SEO practices, but where in years gone by, SEO practitioners used to go crazy linking to whoever and whatever they wanted, nowadays the quality of the site you are linking to is very important. Make sure when you do include outbound links (which are a good idea to help your SEO), that you like to quality sites and not spammy or dodgy looking ones.
Linking is great for SEO because it helps the search engines position your content and see how it relates to other content overall. If reputable sites link to yours it can also give you a big boost in credibility, and rankings.
Need some help creating SEO friendly web content? I provide SEO copywriting services to create polished, targeted and SEO friendly blog posts, website pages, landing pages and more.