The whole purpose of SEO (search engine optimisation) is to make your website search engine friendly, meaning when people search for a keyword related to your business, you pop up in the top results of the SERPs (search engine results pages).
The importance of appearing in the top results is beyond doubt: nearly all clicks are made from the first page, so even if you’re on the second or third page you are likely to be missing out.
SEO involves many factors, which take both design and content into account. This article focuses on the writing side of SEO, explaining the four most important rules of SEO copywriting to get your website found by the search engines.
Rule 1) Quality Beats Quantity
Some people think that to get the most from SEO copywriting they have to go and produce hundreds of pages of content incorporating their chosen keywords wherever possible.
Quantity is not a bad thing in itself, and if you can pump out hundreds of pages of content then by all means do so. But the amount you produce doesn’t beat the quality of the writing. One page of good quality SEO copywriting is better than 10 pages of poor writing (of which you will find a lot on the internet).
The reason for this is that a lot of the power of SEO comes from backlinks to your website. If your content is terrible, people will not want to link to it. You therefore need relevant, interesting and informative content that people actually want to read. This obviously takes more time, but it is well worth the effort to get the most from SEO copywriting.
To produce good quality writing, always ask yourself who you are writing each piece of content for, why you are writing it, what your readers will get out of it and whether you would want to link to it if you were them.
To produce high-quality SEO copywriting, it’s also important to stick to good web-writing practices. This includes using short paragraphs and sentences, short words rather than long ones and the use of subheadings and bullet points to break the writing up. Blocks of text intimidate the online reader, so make sure your content is easy to read.
Rule 2) Keyword Research is NOT Optional
It can be tempting when you first approach SEO copywriting to assume that you already know what your customers are searching for. You may even be right – but you’ll never know for sure unless you carry out keyword research.
Keyword research is not too difficult, and with a few hours’ work you will be able to save yourself a lot of wasted effort when it comes to creating your content. The truth is you are likely to be surprised: rarely are people searching for the words that you think they are.
When it comes to choosing your keywords, you don’t necessarily want to choose the keywords with the highest amount of searches. In fact, this can backfire when it comes to SEO copywriting because the keywords are too competitive.
A better tactic if you are just starting out is to use long-tail keywords (keywords made up of more words). These don’t lead to as many searches, but they will be less competitive and will therefore give you a good chance of getting to the top of the SERPs in a shorter time period.
Rule 3) Use Keywords Properly
Having decided upon the best keywords for your content, the next part is to use them properly. SEO copywriting does not involve cramming as many keywords into your content as possible. This is something that many people simply refuse to believe or adhere to, because it means more work for them.
You are writing for humans first. Keywords are used to make your writing relevant to the search engines, but if your SEO copywriting is not interesting or attractive to humans you don’t stand a chance. If you use keywords in your copy so much that the content becomes unreadable, you will suffer from a lack of backlinks which will hurt your SEO efforts.
Use the keywords throughout the content wherever they fit naturally. If the writing starts to sound forced or unnatural then take them out. By all means be creative and find ways to adapt your writing to incorporate your keywords, but not to the extent where the quality of the writing suffers.
As well as using keywords in the main content, SEO copywriting involves using your keywords in the headline, the title tag, the first paragraph, the last paragraph and subheadings. The position is much more important than the amount of times it appears, but just remember not to go over the top.
Should you worry about meta tags and meta keywords? The jury is still out on that one, but if you can get any extra SEO benefit from filling in this data, no matter how small, then it has to be worth a few minutes of your time.
Rule 4) Spend Time on Your Headline
This is perhaps the most important part of copywriting, SEO or otherwise. As well as including the keyword if possible, your headline also has to stand alone to capture the attention of the reader.
Think how many headlines internet users are presented with every day and hour – far too many to ever read them all. You need your content to stand out to your readers so that they will choose to invest their time in it.
Whole books have been written about writing good headlines. As a general rule, try to provide a benefit, attract the interest of the reader, offer an answer to a common problem, make them curious and generally provide a reason for them to read on. Just remember that if you don’t spend time on this then you can forget about the success of your SEO copywriting.
Stick to the Rules for Good SEO Copywriting
Successful SEO copywriting is a combination of all of the above factors. Keep your writing interesting and readable, choose and use your keywords wisely and make your headline stand out and you should be well on your way to achieving your SEO targets.