4 SEO Copywriting Tips For Sharper, More Effective Copy
I can’t remember the last time a website I worked on was delayed due to technical reasons.
It is not the encoding that causes the delay.
It’s always the copy.
Everyone thinks they can write copy until they are presented with a blank page.
The people in your organization may be subject matter experts — but that doesn’t mean they can meet your copywriting deadline.
Copywriting is hard.
Writing SEO friendly copy can be intimidating.
But even novice SEO writers can make a huge difference by doing a few simple things.
1. Target 2-3 keywords or keyword phrases
Many new SEO authors make the mistake of targeting too many keywords or keyword phrases on a page.
In my experience, if you’re trying to target more than two or three keyword phrases on a single page, your copy will look cluttered.
The concentrated version is usually the best selling version.
And even in long pieces, targeting too many keywords—especially irrelevant keywords—leads to copy that won’t engage the reader.
Unfocused copy does not move the reader into the desired action – in other words, conversion.
I was recently part of a Twitter conversation where participants criticized a conference speaker for saying a blog post should be 2,500 words.
The conference speaker may be right.
The conference speaker may be at fault.
There is no “magic word count” number that a post should be.
Your content should be as long as it needs to answer your visitors’ questions appropriately.
If you can answer the question in 50 words, you may only need 50 words on that page.
As long as your site visitors and search engine bots can contextualize the page, you should be golden.
No need to count your words.
Your visitors don’t care about the length of your blog post.
And contrary to some opinions of the speakers at the conference, Google doesn’t care how long you participate either.
Written writing that is “too big for beginners” tends to be unfocused.
The long copy is great for customers looking for information or at the top of the buying funnel.
But visitors who are ready to buy or become pioneers have probably done their homework.
Paraphrasing information they already know is likely to cause the visitor to lose focus, leave, and not convert into a sale or lead.
But even the savviest copywriting pros benefit from targeting just a few key phrases in their writing.
Writing tends to become more crisp and focused.
And they tend to convert better.
2. Break up your copy
Walls of big words can be intimidating on a web page.
When a visitor encounters a page that is nothing but pixels and pixels of copy, that can be delayed enough to stall, causing the visitor to leave the page.
Use of graphic elements such as bullet lists or numbers, quotes, bumper pictures, etc.
Webmasters can turn scary-looking walls of words into attractive web pages that actually convert visitors into buyers.
I’ve seen a page go from converting no one into anything to vending machines with just a few simple page layout tweaks.
One thing that baffles me is the reluctance of B2B marketers to put any pictures of a living, breathing organism on their page.
We know that pictures of happy, smiling people usually increase conversion rates on B2C pages, but we forget that B2B customers are just B2B consumers at work.
But do I know that a picture of a real, happy, smiling customer will increase the conversion rate of your blog post?
No I do not.
In fact, I’d like to test several combinations of graphic mods on a wall of words to see what works.
One day, some fellow agency owners and I were talking about the unique selling points of our agency.
My friend said he thinks his agency probably does more A/B tests than any other agency he currently works with.
In my opinion, this is an amazing selling proposition.
He certainly knows that images of happy, smiling people aren’t just for consumer products anymore.
3. Keep your keywords on a sticky note
Everyone knows when you’re watching your weight, one of the most helpful things you can do is keep track of your calorie intake.
When writing copy with an SEO focus, it’s important to keep track of the words you’re writing.
Specifically, it’s important to understand how frequently you’ll use that keyword phrase in your copy.
Just as with the total number of words, there is no hard and fast limit on the number of times you can use a keyword in a given copy.
Novice SEO writers tend to cram keyword-heavy copy, so it reads like a recurring catalog entry.
This is not the way.
The copy must make sense to the end consumer.
The copy should appeal to search engine bots, so they know what the content is about, but the context doesn’t need to be telegraphed.
You don’t have to hit the search engine over the head with signals that the page is about a specific keyword phrase.
Nonfiction, I tell writers to try to include every target phrase in a block of copy at least twice.
But many times it makes more sense to use the phrase more than twice.
I would caution against just using a one time keyword phrase.
For non-competitive phrases, with other mentions, you can rank a page by mentioning just one phrase with a keyword, but often, it takes more than just one mention.
But this brings the after note.
When creating SEO copy, I write my keywords on a sticky note that I put next to my keyboard.
As I write my copy, I checkmark each key phrase as I use it.
But I try not to count keyword phrases while writing the first draft.
I just put a check mark every time I use the phrase.
Once I finish my first draft, I read through it to make sure it makes sense and I count my keyword references to make sure I’ve got everything.
If not everything is included, or if I find that the copy doesn’t flow around my target keywords, I reorganize and start over.
It can be a frustrating process at first, but eventually, you’ll get to where you can just make edits to the draft to go live with a final copy.
4. Read the copy out loud
When in doubt, read your copy out loud.
If you’re still not sure, read it out loud to someone else.
When you read the copy out loud, you’re not necessarily looking for ways to improve the copy – it has to be good by the time you get to that point.
Reading the copy out loud helps SEO professionals and webmasters understand if the copy is flowing.
When we try to stick a round dowel into a square hole, it just doesn’t fit.
The same is true when we try to target a keyword on a page whose context does not match the intent of the target phrase.
Reading the copy out loud will always reveal if a page is full of keywords.
What we found is that you can actually include a lot more keywords in the copy than you think – and the flow still works.
Usually, by reading the transcript out loud, we find at least one or two additional instances where we can logically use a key phrase in the transcript.
There are simple steps any copywriter can take to make their content more SEO friendly.
These steps do not take years of practice to perfect.
Always test, and realize that if search engines understand the context of the copy and users are persuaded to take some kind of required action, you’re golden.
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