10 Tips for SEO Copywriting
By Christopher Conlan
SEO Copywriting is a skill. For most people it’s really something you learn over time by doing it, paying close attention to what your competitors are doing and reading up on how to write copy for websites, blogs, press releases and articles.
There are some simple rules that will help the beginning SEO copywriter and keep the experienced “know-it-all” like myself grounded!
First let’s start by really defining SEO copywriting.
SEO copywriting is the art and science of combining three elements:
(1) Valuable Content: providing the reader with content that affords them the opportunity to learn, experience or clarify a product, service, position or opinion. Key factors in creating “value” in your content include organization, a high level of detail, a birds-eye view, reader perspective, usability and specific calls to action.
Your content must provide the reader with ”news you can use” if you will. The overall reader experience must take into account a variety of different levels of knowledge/proficiency with the topic. Here’s where defining and organizing your thoughts come in. Start with a bird’s eye view of the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How, then expand into greater detail on a point by point or step by step basis.
(2) Readability: The user must be able to understand what the heck you are talking about. A good rule of thumb is to write for the reader first, then make a second and third pass for the search engines.
(3) Structure and Formatting: Search Engines are becoming smarter about assessing the “value” of your content, but they still rely on a variety of distinguishable factors which are outlined below. There is no hard and fast rule for any of these tips. Use them all “sparingly” and remember #1 and 2 above.
10 SEO Copywriting Tips
(1) Use Bold, and Italics: Just like a regular old human reader the search engines give more weight to words and phrases that are in bold or italics. Just don’t go too crazy or you’ll irritate the search engines and give your reader a headache (unless you’re selling aspirin, but that’s a different article on subliminal copywriting!).
(2) Internal Hyperlinks: You are your own best resource, so use and to a certain extent abuse yourself. Hyperlink to other resources/pages of your site which are relevant to the copy you are writing. This will benefit the reader, increase the amount of time they spend on your site and help you with the search engines. Don’t forget your ALT tags.
(3) External Hyperlinks: Incorporating links to external resources which will benefit the reader can help you in two ways (a) they provide a third-party validation to a certain extent of your “expertise” and (b) afford you the opportunity to pick up some extra coin if that resource provides reciprocal linking or has an affiliate program.
(4) Use Bullet Points: Using a bullet point or numbered system helps break up your copy into consumable pieces, aids in the clean design of your page and makes it easy for the reader to “go back” and reference previous points without wasting time reading through dense copy.
(5) Content “Mass”: Never have less than 400 words on a page. If the content you are providing is in fact valuable you should be able to come up with aroundt 1,000 words.
(6) Use Examples to beef up your content with relevant keywords. (See #8).
(7) Keyword Density: I like to try for 7% density for no more than 4 sets of keywords or phrases per page. Segway to #8.
(8) Break your keyword sets/phrases into tiers or alternates to enable a better flow while maximizing density and penetration (based upon Yahoo!’s Keyword Selector Tool, WordTracker, WebCEO or a like keyword recommendation program).:
Example: Target: SEO Copywriting
Tier 1: SEO Copywriting
Tier 2: SEO Copywriter
Tier 3: Writing copy for SEO
Tier 4: SEO copywriting services
Example Sentence: “Instead of spending time evaluating SEO copywriting Services become a SEO copywriter yourself by following these guidelines and you’ll be writing copy for SEO in no time.”
I sort of packed it all into one sentence, but you should get the gist.
(9) Write for what the reader is searching for, not what you think they should be searching for. Remember that your job is to provide the “solution” to the problem, not create a greater problem by making the reader/searcher feel dumb. If they are searching for Ham and Green Eggs instead of Green Eggs and Ham, give them Ham and Green Eggs – “The Searcher is Always Right” to paraphrase a service industry mantra.
(10) On Page Structure and Code “Tricks” There is an old saying from high school debate teams: “Tell them what your gonna tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them”. The same applies to SEO copywriting. Use an “introductory statement”, then your body content with bullet points or numbering, then a “summary” (which is essentially the same as your introductory statement). Don’t forget to avail yourself of page specific meta tags, page title, ALT Tags, Image Tags, Screen Tips, etc. to fill in the blanks for the words that just didn’t fit into the “flow” and to increase the relevant weight of your selected keywords.
Remember, SEO Copywriting is a skill. For most people it’s really something you learn over time by doing it, paying close attention to what your competitors are doing and reading up on how to write copy for websites, blogs, press releases and articles.
Follow these simple rules that will help the beginning SEO copywriter and keep the experienced “know-it-all” like myself grounded!
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