The Concise Guide To SEO Copywriting: Connect With Customers and Lift Rankings
Copywriting is experiencing a renaissance. After digital marketing became common practice, people realized the importance of website content that reads well and compels action from its audience to bring more sales to a business.
Not only that but as web users and businesses realized the massive role of search engines in online success, they figured out the correlation between relevant site content and getting better search rankings.
There is a distinct learning curve for SEO copywriting. It lies in finding the balance between appeasing the search engine algorithms and writing for people.
While not everybody can become a good copywriter overnight, there are many helpful tips and tricks you can employ.
In this bumper edition blog, we deliver the ultimate concise guide to SEO copywriting. Soon after applying these tips, you’ll be creating effective content that gets higher Google ranks and converts like crazy!
Recommended Tools for SEO Copywriting
Before we dive into it, here are some useful tools to get you on the right track.
We’ve extolled Grammarly’s virtues before, and we’ll do it again. It’s easily the best and most accessible grammar and spell-checking software on the market right now.
It’s now at the point where any writer worth their salt has Grammarly Premium as standard to improve efficiency and accuracy. Every writer needs an editor, no matter how skilled they are.
Yoast is on a mission to give everyone the opportunity to rank on Google with the help of their easy-to-use plugins.
Their plugin for WordPress sites is particularly handy for blog posts, with its meta description and Google snippet editor as well as instant evaluation of a blog’s readability along with SEO-friendliness.
Coschedule Headline Analyzers
Coschedule has some amazing tools that analyze your headlines and evaluates their effectiveness. These are available for standard headlines in site copy or blogs as well as a specialized analyzer just for email subject lines.
If you’re doing your own keyword research, keywordtool.io will prove priceless. Even the free version gives you a handy summary of search phrases frequently used for a certain keyword.
The premium version gives additional insight into search volume and competition plus much more.
This super-simple web page tool allows you to instantly count characters with and without spaces while providing insight into your frequently used words and phrases. You’ll also get an estimate of how long it will take to read your text silently and out loud, plus many more options to explore.
To get started, all you have to do is copy and paste your text into the box – that’s pretty good for a freebie!
The Marriage of Copywriting and SEO
The main element that sets SEO Copywriting apart from standard copywriting is its relationship with search engines.
At its core, SEO Copywriting connects web pages with people searching for the information they contain. This quote from the team at keywordtool.io sums it up nicely:
“Every search is an expression of people’s needs, wants, interests and desires.”
And the job of SEO Copywriting is to help people realize those needs, wants, interests and desires.
It accomplishes this in close partnership with on and off-page technical SEO strategies. This means there are a few factors writers must consider when writing for site traffic and Google ranks.
To have a better chance of achieving higher search rankings, ensure your content incorporates the below where possible:
- A minimum length of 300 words is required to rank on Google
- Long-form content of over 1,000 words reliably ranks more often than short-form content as long as it’s relevant and high-quality
- A keyword density between 0.5% and 2%
- Relevant internal links e.g. “Fill in our easy online enquiry form for assistance” or “Check out our previous post on XYZ!”
- Outbound links to sources referenced, especially necessary for blogs (it can also help with link building strategies, but that’s an entire blog topic unto itself)
- Provide answers to questions posed in long-tail keywords naturally within your content
- Encourage and facilitate the sharing of your content on social media to attain more backlinks to it
The Art of Keyword Weaving
Keywords are an integral component of SEO Copywriting. They help search engine algorithms determine whether a site page is relevant to phrases entered into them.
Since the dawning days of SEO, this has caused people to write terrible site copy in the pursuit of easy rank boosts. Keyword stuffing is the Black Hat SEO practice of shoving keywords into copy where it doesn’t make sense for them to be.
This is how not to use keywords:
“If you’re looking for the best consulting services HK, you’ve come to the right place. We provide the best consulting services HK every time.”
Notice how the keyword is so painfully obvious, it doesn’t need to be pointed out? Avoid this writing style at all costs.
This is a more natural way of incorporating the keyword:
“We pride ourselves on always giving clients our best. That applies to not only our consulting services, but all of our operations across Hong Kong.”
By spacing out the individual words a bit, the end result reads a lot better. The keywords are still recognized by search engines, as they are still in the right order and are close enough together.
Handy hint: Google understands the correlation between “Hong Kong” and “HK” – they are effectively synonyms!
The Perfect Headline
In any form of copy, it’s vital to grab readers’ attention fast. The best way to achieve that is with a powerful headline.
The most attention-grabbing headlines tend to feature:
- Simple language (e.g. “use” instead of “utilize”)
- A length of no more than 8 – 10 words
- A bold statement with “power words”
- Numbers – i.e. “5” instead of “five”
- A question posed to readers with an air of mystery
- A sense of urgency that makes visitors want to read more
In SEO copywriting, headers are denoted by HTML code known as “H-tags”. These go in the order of H1, H2, all the way to H6. They are not visible on the website, but they serve some important purposes.
H1s are the tags predominantly used in page titles, and most of the time there’s only 1 per page. H2s denote main topics within the page, while H3s and so-on serve to break up bodies of text according to sub-topics.
Meta Descriptions are snippets of text that display on search engines to give searchers a preview of what the page will contain. Usually, these have a maximum of 160 characters including spaces.
The key to writing a great Meta Description is to tempt users to click your link over everyone else’s, so write for click-through rates (CTR). Start with a strong opener, outline the key talking points of the page, and end with a compelling call-to-action (CTA).
It’s good practice to include keywords in your Meta Descriptions, but not so much for ranking purposes! If a keyword is searched on Google, Meta Descriptions that contain it display the term highlighted in bold.
This way, your Meta Description stands out immensely to users who will instantly recognize them as more relevant to their search.
Incorporate UX/UI Design Principles
When writing SEO copy, you need to ensure the bodies of text fit easily into the website’s structure and are easy to read. This significantly improves the user-experience and user-interface (UX/UI) of a website.
Whether you’re writing copy to fit into an existing layout or a design is being created around your content, there are some things to keep in mind.
Factors to look out for include:
- Divide up paragraphs evenly and frequently to avoid “walls of text”
- Be consistent in your use of spacing and heading styles
- Use present tense
- Where possible, avoid uncertain language e.g “most probably” which makes the author sound unconfident and reduces the copy’s readability – instead, opt for powerful and “absolutist” language to sell your target audience more effectively
- Use active voice
- Be straightforward, avoid colloquialisms and humor (unless the brand requires it)
- Avoid confusing language such as double negatives which make it harder to instantly decode writing, e.g. “I do not want to subscribe” – you’d be surprised at how many misclicks this can cause!
Know Your Target Audience
You can’t apply a one-size-fits-all template to copywriting. The tone you should take depends on your industry and what your prime consumer demographic is motivated by.
Writing techniques that work for one target audience may not be effective for another. For instance, you wouldn’t use the same language for a niche fashion brand as you would for a law firm.
Some commonalities across most industries worth bearing in mind for SEO copywriting include:
- Ensure any information you provide is current and up-to-date.
- Don’t get too verbose. Get straight to the point for an easier read and better results.
- Remember to be specific. Copy that’s too general or broad isn’t as strong or effective, as most searchers are looking for specific information on a topic.
- Tell a story. 55% of professionals agree that storytelling is one of the best ways to attain and retain their attention. When writing SEO copy, construct a narrative around what you’re promoting that taps into people’s emotional drives and primal desires for added effect.
- Include a CTA that tells readers what to do when they’re done reading your content. Popular and effective CTAs include “Shop now!”, “Call today!” or “Book online here!” – they don’t always have to include an exclamation point, but they help convey enthusiasm and a sense of urgency.
The most important rule of SEO Copywriting, above all else, is to write primarily for humans – not for algorithms. Ultimately, Google and other search engines are smart enough to tell the difference between reader-focused and algorithm-focused copywriting.
It doesn’t take much thought to figure out what the “SEO Gods” would rather reward. If you compromise readability too much and incorporate Black Hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing, your site stands to lose out in the rankings game. You may even get penalized!
When you visit a website, you assign much more credibility to its authors if the copy reads well. When it comes to the Zero Moment of Truth and you’re making a purchase decision, which company would you choose: the business with a poorly written website or one with content you genuinely want to read?
The answer is obvious. Don’t cut corners on your copy. Everyone has their own unique way to perfectly balance the scales between good SEO and effective copywriting – you just need to practice.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed our Concise Guide to SEO Copywriting. In this blog, we discussed the ways Black Hat SEO methods can manifest in SEO copywriting. Not sure what hats have to do with SEO? Why not check out our blog on Black Hat vs White Hat SEO!