Writing good SEO copy means writing smart SEO copy. When a searcher types a query into a search engine, there will most likely be thousands of results. What puts your copy above the rest?
Writing is an art. SEO is a science (kind of).
SEO copy has to solve two problems at once: appeal to search engines and appeal to the reader. This is a difficult task. While the solution is not one-size-fits-all, there is one rule that the best SEO copywriters stick to: your copy should be high-quality, no matter how difficult the keyword is.
Your copy has to be eye-catching and keep the attention of the user. To write persuasive copy, you need to clearly describe your service, product, or company. How do you appeal to an unfeeling robot and a human being searching for an answer to their query?
1. Use an Effective, Eye-catching Title
The title of your webpage should appeal to users and get them to click through to your website. After all, the whole purpose of SEO is to increase organic traffic. However, you won’t get clicks if your title doesn’t help you rank in the top 10 (preferably top 3).
For example, let’s say the keyword you want to rank for is “SEO copywriting.” When you search for that term during your keyword research phase, you’ll notice that most (if not all) of the results are not just articles titled “SEO copywriting.” Instead, the top results are articles that explain how to write good SEO copy and get you to click with catchy titles claiming that their guide is the best one out there.
Search engines like Google have already determined that the search intent for people who type “SEO copywriting” into their search bar is usually to understand how to write SEO copy. As someone who is writing for SEO, it’s important to understand the search intent of people who are typing in the keyword you’re targeting.
2. Consider Your Website Copy a First Impression
Treat each body of copy as the first impression a potential customer has of your business. The purpose of SEO copy is to rank organically on search engines and get people to click through to your website to learn more about your company and, hopefully, request your services. The copy you write could be the difference between the customer choosing your company or moving on to someone else, so make sure every piece is to the highest possible quality.
3. Define the Audience
Address your target audience (either outright or indirectly) within the first few sentences of your copy. That way, the reader will know if what they’re about to read is meant for them.
Having a clear picture of who your audience is will influence the way you write. Is the person reading your content already familiar with the concept you’re writing about? Can you use industry-specific jargon? If so, do you need to explain it? If someone comes across your content, they should quickly be able to decipher if your page answers their query through how you introduce the topic and how you address your audience.
4. Define the Purpose of the Article
Defining a purpose comes back to user intent. What information do you need to get across to your audience? What is the keyword they’re going to use in order to get that information? Are you selling a product or simply conveying information? And, most importantly: what do you want the reader to do after they’re finished reading?
Your purpose needs to be specific. As a writer, you shouldn’t just be typing meaningless words on a page in order to meet a word count or satisfy a client’s request. Your content should come to a clear point, whether that be persuading the reader to purchase a product/service or inform them of a concept.
5. Write for Humans, Not Robots
Keep in mind that Google is not your customer, your customer is a real person with thoughts and feelings. Write in a style that your target audience will connect with and easily understand. Avoid big words and long sentences. Tip: read your piece out loud before sending it off to be edited or published. If it sounds awkward, repetitive, or doesn’t convey the right message, change it.
While there are many more tips and tricks to writing good keyword copy, these tactics have helped me write every SEO piece with relative ease. Hopefully they help give you an idea of what to do/what not to do when writing for SEO.
6. Use Target Keywords, But Don’t Stuff
Once you have a great title and have clearly defined your audience and your purpose, you now have to dig into the meat of your text. In the past, search engines would scan copy for how much a keyword was used and put together search results based on that number (among other things). Today, search engines are looking less at how much you’re using a keyword and more at how effectively you’re using it.
Not only is keyword stuffing outdated, but it also often leads to terrible writing. Most people aren’t going to read a block of text that repeats the same word or phrase over and over again. Good keyword copy does not sound like keyword copy. Remember: Thanksgiving stuffing, good. Keyword stuffing, bad.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use keywords. Take a look at those top 10 results again and read through what those articles and posts say. How many times do you see the keyword repeated? Some tools, like Semrush or Ahrefs, will give you the average number of keywords used in those 10 results. If you don’t have an SEO tool, or yours doesn’t give you this data, put in the extra work and read through the copy that’s already ranking.
7. Make Sure Copy Reflects Top 10 Results
When it comes to SEO, new and different doesn’t always mean better. In fact, it often results in the opposite. When you search for the keyword you’re targeting, you’ll probably notice similarities between all of the top 10 results. That’s because search engines know what gets the most user interaction and recommends similar content.
When you’re researching the keyword you want to rank for, make note of the similarities in phrasing, structure, and image use. Do the majority of the top 10 results use primarily images with very little text, or do they rely on detailed copy to get their point across? Do you notice any trends in headings and phrasing they use? How do they address their audience?
While simply copying and pasting what other people have written will get you flagged for duplicate content (and possibly sued for copyright infringement), take what’s already working for others and use it to create your own content.
High-quality SEO copy will help increase traffic to your website and enhance your reader’s experience. By following the five tips laid out above, you’ll be well on your way to crafting copy that will draw readers in and get you ranking on page one!
SEO Strategist, Holland Adhaus
Courtney knows SEO is more than just a bunch of keywords and a checklist.