Writing for SEO is a multi-faceted challenge. When you sit down to write search optimised copy, whether that be for a product page, a blog article or even something as short and ‘simple’ (end sarcasm) as a meta description, it can feel like you’re juggling a huge number of different do’s, don’ts, rules, regulations and other restrictions that make things seem very difficult.
In this article, I’ll cover 7 quick tips that will help you get your head around SEO copywriting more quickly and easily.
1 – Write for the user
If I had to give just one tip on this subject, this would be it. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this one.
Yes, when it’s time to write SEO content you are indeed trying to create copy that will rank well in search engines. However, if you come at your copy with the search engine alone in mind then you’re heading down a dangerous road.
Ultimately, all search engines like Google are trying to do is show their users search results that are relevant and useful based on the search they have made. That’s what keeps us coming back – the fact that we found what we were looking for.
But the search algorithm doesn’t stop there – if a user clicks onto your result, sees a wall of text and then bounces right back to the search engine, then that sends a signal. It tells the search engine your page wasn’t the right one after all.
2 – Don’t just remember the ranking factors, remember why they exist
Many of the ranking factors us SEO copywriters know and love come back to the above point. For example, the reason keyword relevancy is so important is that it tells the search engine what our page is about – we include terms we know our users search for because we want to be seen.
Don’t lose sight of the reason for many of these rules, though. The reason keyword stuffing and other old school practices have gone the way of the dinosaurs, is because they were having a detrimental effect on the experience of search engine users.
So, when it comes to questions like ‘how many times should I include my main keywords’ don’t get too caught up in percentages or any other formulas. Read the copy back – aloud if you have the time – does it read well? Does it read like normal copy? Or does it sound like someone is repeating the same word again and again, to the point where you start to doubt whether that word is even real? Seriously, say the word ‘sport’ enough times and you’ll understand what I mean.
Yes, keywords are important, but so is user experience. It’s no good ranking number one for a term for a few days, if all you do is alienate the people that click through with frustrating copy and therefore fail to convert them. If that happens, you won’t hold onto that ranking for long.
3 – Assign your keywords
One mistake that’s easy to make is targeting too many keywords on a single page.
When there are multiple groups of search terms, and therefore topics, it’s frustrating for both search engines and users. It makes things confusing – both might ask questions like: What is this page about? Am I in the right place?
That’s why its important you group your keywords into tightly relevant groups and then assign each group to a page or piece of content. That means you know exactly what that content is about, and can make sure you send a clear signal – to both the search spider and your target audience – that this is the page they were looking for.
4 – Work in a simple format
This is a quick one, but it’s important.
Work in a simple format – a word document or other text file gives you plenty of formatting options, probably more than you need for SEO copywriting. Whatever you do, don’t work directly on the CMS – it’s far too easy to miss things or make a simple mistake that pushes an unfinished page live.
5 – Ctrl + F is your friend (or Cmd + F if you’re a Mac using human)
By working in a simple format like a word doc, we unlock a powerful and under-appreciated tool: Ctrl + F.
If you’re not sure if you’ve included your keywords enough – or maybe if you’ve read the copy through and are worried you’re getting a bit spammy with your search terms – Ctrl + F is your friend.
Typing your keywords into the find box should highlight where they appear in the document. It’s a quick and easy way to get a visual indication of how often those terms appear in the copy, as well as how well they’re spaced out and whether you’ve over stuffed certain parts of the copy in an unnatural way.
6 – Think mobile first
This is advice you can pretty much apply to anything in the digital marketing ecosystem, but it holds true here as well.
Search engines are becoming more and more focused on the experience and behaviour of mobile users, and where the search engines lead SEO content writers have to follow!
Make sure your paragraphs aren’t so long that they’re going to look like huge blocks of text as the screen-size gets smaller, and wherever possible put lists into bullet points rather than long comma-filled sentences.
If you’d like to know more about writing user focused content, read my previous article – 3 Best Practice Tips to Make Your Content Reader Friendly.
7 – Structure matters too
Things like heading structures and internal linking are important parts of good SEO copy – but again, don’t look at these as opportunities to game the system.
It makes sense that your H1 tag should include your keyword, because it’s the title of the page and that keyword should be what your page is about. Your other headings should be about other relevant sections of the page, containing related phrases because that is still what the page is about.
That makes sense for users as well as search engines.
The same goes for internal linking. Link users out to relevant and useful pages on your website at times that make sense, when they might want more detailed information on something you’ve mentioned or might be ready to move to the next step in their user journey.
A call to action to a buy or book now page, for example, should come at a point that makes sense – when you’ve already talked about the product, have explained the benefits and naturally prepared the user for that link.
It almost always comes back to the user…
If there’s one word I’ve probably written too much in this article (and there might be a few that fall into that category), it’s ‘user’.
The reason for that is simple – those are the people that matter, and are also the people that can sometimes get lost in amongst all the SEO best practices we’re trying to adhere to.
As I said at the start, if you remember nothing else when you’re writing SEO content remember the people you’re writing it for. Those are the people all the search engine algorithms are trying to keep happy and if you can do that while writing well optimised copy, you’re on to a winner.
Want more SEO?
Here at Coast Digital, we’re dedicated to delivering great organic search results for our clients. That means both making sure all our work is user focused, as well as keeping up with the latest developments in the ever-changing world of SEO.
Want to find out what we think matters now in the world of organic search? Read our article – What is SEO Now?
If, on the other hand, you think it’s time your SEO content put users first, then we’d love to talk to you about how we do that. Get in touch today and let’s talk about how we can create content for your site that gives both search engines and users what they’re looking for.