How do you create content that will reach users across the breadth of the web? Regardless of whether you create content yourself or outsource it to an external company, it is imperative to know how to write to attract users as well as search engines. If you are just starting your adventure in search engine optimisation, I hope that this article will provide you will all you need to know to start optimising your content. If you are a seasoned SEO, it might be refreshing to go over some basics about writing SEO-friendly text.
I will begin this piece with an overview of the basics – what SEO Copywriting fundamentally is – and then go to provide practical advice on creating content for users and search engines.
What you will learn from this article?
• What SEO Copywriting is all about
• Why and how to use key phrases in your content
• How to use formatting to increase the readability of content and escape from the “text wall”
• What internal linking is and how to use it in your content
What is SEO Copywriting?
SEO Copywriting is part of the ‘umbrella of website optimisation’ activities for search engines (SEO = Search Engine Optimisation). On the one hand, it concerns the technical optimisation of a website, and on the other, the optimisation of its content, which is largely to do with the creation and fine-tuning of various forms of content. That is essentially SEO Copywriting.
What is the point? First and perhaps most importantly, SEO Copywriting helps position your website appropriately within search results. When your site is properly prepared and optimised to include the important keywords, you will find it appropriately displayed in Google search results.
The better the position (i.e. how high up the search engine results page – or SERP for short) and the more relevant keywords that appear with the page in the Google search results, the more traffic (visits) to your site you will have. That is, SEO Copywriting fundamentally creates attractive content that users are already searching for – in order to encourage them to visit your site.
The task of an SEO Copywriter is to create and edit such content for websites.
Moreover, SEO Copywriting applies to both longer and shorter forms of content, of which I will write more about later in this guide.
SEO Copywriting and Keywords
In order to write a text that will be able to contribute to the success of your website, you need to know what potential visitors are looking for. Using your own hunch about which topics to choose when writing an article is not the best way of attracting internet users.
Instead, it is important that you know what internet users are looking for and what keywords they type into search engines to find it. In other words – you need to create content that actually meets their needs.
Luckily, there already exist resources to help you in this endeavour. You can use these tools to check the popularity of topics and keywords for which you intend to write an article:
• Google Keyword Planner: http://google.com/sktool
• KeywordTool.io: https://keywordtool.io/
• Answer The Public: https://answerthepublic.com/
To start with, using these tools will allow you to check which keywords should appear in your article (and whether the topic you chose is of interest to others).
In many cases, you will also get a lot of suggestions for related keywords that will inform you of other topics (and therefore articles) that are most likely also worth writing about.
When analysing the keywords obtained, it is best to group them by subject (in Excel, notebook or Word) – each group can then be an idea for a separate article.
Let’s take an example: If you run a shoe store, you may want to reach people who are on the hunt for accessories: polish, waterproofing, shoe cleaning kits etc. You do not have to limit yourself however to promoting just specific product pages – you can create content that will entice users from a range of similar keywords that will then lead them on to your product pages. For example:
Guide on polishing high-gloss shoes. Phrases:
• how to polish shoes
• polishing shoes
• polishing shoes to a high gloss
• polishing shoes with banana skin
• polishing shoes with a brush
• high-gloss shoe polish
For guides on cleaning and care of suede footwear. Phrases:
• cleaning suede shoes
• cleaning suede
• suede cleaners
• cleaning shoes from light suede
• cleaning and maintenance of suede shoes
The SEO Copywriter’s task will be to write guides that use these key phrases within the article(s).
Where to use keywords?
The knowledge that a certain subject is popular among Internet users and which key phrases they use to search for it is, unfortunately, not enough. You will still need to make use of the identified keywords in the content of your articles. However, it does not have to be complicated. Just remember that the phrases should appear in:
• the title of the article
• headings (and sub-headings) inside the text
• in the content of the article itself
You do not have to rigidly stick to these keywords and there is no problem in making subtle changes. The above-mentioned example enlists the phrase “cleaning suede”, but it is completely fine to just write “suede cleaning”.
You are also free to use synonyms, which will allow you to optimise your text for a broader group of keywords – making it more natural, readable and enjoyable for the recipient.
Formatting? Who needs it?
While it may seem that text formatting is a trivial subject that most have already grasped, I still receive articles (or come across them on the Internet), which are simply a wall of text. One of the reasons for this is when the style of text used relates to certain SEO practices – e.g. for search ‘robots’, not for the user.
But this is not how it should be.
An SEO Copywriter should be able to connect the human and computer-readable worlds. Write for the user, optimise for search engines.
Remember to use the following elements:
• headings and sub-headings – to divide the text into easy-to-read, logical parts
• lists & bullets (I use them frequently – for example, now)
• bold and italics – this helps highlight your key thoughts and key phrases
• use of pictures – to grab the reader’s attention
• dividing up paragraphs into shorter ones – to break that “text wall”
The overarching idea is to ease the capacity for text scanning and increase its overall readability. Using these elements is not difficult and not all of them must be in your text – you shouldn’t have to force it. If the article has a structure, then there will be no problem with dividing it into parts and making use of subheadings. If you can condense your typical paragraph down into some central ideas – use lists and bullets. Do you want to draw the reader’s attention to an important word or phrase? Go Bold.
In addition to appropriate formatting techniques, you can also use other methods to increase a user’s involvement -such as the use of internal links.
Links inside the content
To increase a user’s engagement and help them to discover other relevant aspects of your website, it can often be appropriate to factor in internal linking.
The name of the game here is to put links within your article to other similar, interesting or important content on your site.
Using the previous example of a shoe store, in one of the suggested articles you could link to:
• similarly themed articles that may be useful to the reader;
• recommended products or accessories for shoe care in the store.
In this way, you can encourage a user to explore your site, read other articles and ultimately direct them to your sales pages. The appropriate use of internal linking also brings a number of additional benefits for SEO – for example, improved search engine discovery.
However, remember not to use general phrases such as ‘click here’ or ‘see now’ as your links.
You must be more elegant.
Use keywords that relate to the source for which you are linking and create the anchor text based on them (anchor text). For example, “if you also want to know what Semantic Search is, you can read my article that initially appeared in Online Marketing Magazine No. 1 (38) / 2018“. This is a simple example that utilises two different types of link: one to my previous article (internal link) and another to the Online Marketing Magazine (external link).
Internal linking as a search engine optimisation (SEO) practice is a topic for a whole other separate article. For now, stick to a simple rule – if you have the option of including a relevant link to other content on your website, it’s a route worth taking.
The SEO Copywriting topic has been discussed many times and some may think that it has already been exhausted. This may be true. But the basics, though extremely important, are still often overlooked.
Remember that SEO Copywriting is not just about writing long articles or guides. The principles mentioned in this article can also be used to create broad descriptions for products, services or any other text content that you aim to optimise for search engines.
• Remember for who and why you create content;
• Investigate whether the topic is popular with users. Find more information about what keywords (and how often) are typed into Google;
• Use these identified keywords in the article, headlines, subtitles and in the content itself;
• Be sure to format it appropriately and make sure that the article is clear and legible. A wall of text is an effective way to deter users;
• If possible – link to other related content (articles, products, etc.) in your article.
You will help the user discover other valuable parts of the site.
If you have further questions about SEO Copywriting, SEO itself or simply want to get in contact – please write to me at Sebastian.Balinski@makolab.com