If you asked me about SEO copywriting in 2010, I would tell you that it’s just like any other content but with keywords and key phrases people use when conducting a search.
The first time I wrote a search engine optimization copy, I was working remotely for an agency that provided cheap copywriting services. The project supervisor gave me a keyword and asked me to insert it ONCE in the copy.
They were all 500-word articles going on Ezine. No value, or engagement, merely for the sake of ranking.
Today, SEO copy must engage the reader. It’s not enough to see the green Yoast button on WordPress. Rather, your content must solve for the searcher’s intent, else, it fails. The goal is to rank higher on search engines and drive qualified traffic for lead generation.
However, driving organic traffic hinges on your ability to create original content that attracts visitors and answers a specific question they’ve asked.
What is SEO?
This is the first question clients ask me when I tell them “You need to optimize your website first for SEO, before talking about ranking”.
In simple terms, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is everything you do to increase your rankings on search engines like Google and Bing. SEO encompasses a responsive web design that delivers an excellent user experience. It also includes great content based on keyword research.
Many newbies and experienced marketers tend to overcomplicate SEO. But once you understand that Google wants you to put the user first before machines, you can build a website and write content that ranks high on search engine result pages.
What is Copywriting?
Wikipedia defines copywriting as the act of writing text for the purpose of marketing and advertising. But in my opinion, copywriting goes beyond “writing text”.
What sets copywriting apart from content writing is that copywriting converts. It is both a science and an art. Copywriting is an art because you must be creative to write copy. It’s crafting words that appeal to the buyer’s emotion and persuades them to take action.
Copywriting is also a science. Copywriters must conduct research to understand the problems their target customers face and what drives them to make a purchase.
Bruce Bendinger’s definition above is my favorite. He encompasses everything a copywriter does with a few sentences.
What is SEO Copywriting?
Now we have the definition of SEO and copywriting, let’s bring it all together.
SEO copywriting is the process of conducting keyword research to understand what your target audience wants as it relates to the product or service you’re offering.
You use the keywords to write engaging content that thoroughly satisfies the reader’s search intent.
Think of SEO copy as a holistic process. Only websites that write the best copy will show up on page 1. And we both know that nobody goes to page 3 or page 4 to find answers.
The ranking comes automatically when you write naturally and provide the best answers. It’s not just optimizing one page, but ALL the pages on your website with keyword and phrases.
You want to create content that is so good, people link to it and share it across social media and email. Off-page events like social shares show Google that your content is valuable and trustworthy. Hence, your pages rank higher for your money keywords.The ranking comes automatically when you write naturally and provide the best answers. It’s not just optimizing one page, but ALL the pages on your website with keyword and phrases. Click To Tweet
What is the Difference Between Copywriting vs SEO Writing?
Practical SEO copywriting and copywriting are offshoots of content marketing. They both have the same goals of increasing your reach, engaging your audience and turning visitors into leads.
It’s no surprise that both styles of writing overlap. Some marketers interchange a content writer with an SEO copywriter. However, knowing the difference is key to maximizing your SEO strategy.
We’ve already defined copywriting as content that converts. Beyond this, copywriting aims to build brand awareness by solving problems and encouraging your target audience to buy your offering.
Copywriters create content for web pages, emails, landing pages, brochures, direct mail, and product launches.
SEO writing could refer to SEO content writing or SEO copywriting. Similar to content writing, the goal of SEO content writing is to generate traffic from search engines. SEO content writing also:
- Drives clicks from search engines
- Increase your ranking for a keyword
- Directs users to navigate to relevant pages on your website through a call to action.
You need an SEO content writer to craft SEO-optimized web pages, guest posts, and PPC landing pages.
An SEO copywriter performs the same function but converts the traffic generated from search engines into qualified leads for your sales team.
According to Heather Lloyd-Martin, SEO Copywriting serves two masters. Google, who ranks your content and the user you want to fall in love with you.
Why Do You Need SEO Copywriting?
1. Drive Traffic
Traffic generation is the major reason why content marketers contact SEO copywriters to craft blog posts, guides, location pages and other types of SEO content.
Everyone can write content. But only SEO copywriters have the required skills to conduct keyword research, understand search intent, and increase your visibility in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
2. Maximize your content marketing spend
Brian Clark says search is still the biggest game in town. And he’s right. It’s a unifying activity that every website, irrespective of niche uses to drive new and repeat business.
If you don’t have deep pockets, you can’t rely on paid advertising forever. If you need search traffic to increase revenue for your business, an SEO copywriter is a crucial part of the process
Once you’ve exhausted your funds, you lose traffic. SEO web copywriting targets ideal customers for your brand. It ensures that you rank organically for keywords and phrases your audience use to find related services.
3. Build Authority the Right Way
Take a look at this image from Moz. Notice that off-page factors have more impact on ranking than on-page elements?
The most influential factors are:
- Trust/Authority of the host domain
- Link popularity of the specific page
- Anchor text of external links to the page
4. Show Google You’re Solving Problems
So, where does an SEO copywriter comes in? You can’t have an authoritative website without content that matches search intent. Great SEO copy tells Google that your content provides the best answers to questions people ask.
5. Convert Traffic into Leads
But it’s not just attracting traffic, it’s converting traffic into leads and sales. It’s easy to become so obsessed with traffic and forget that traffic is meaningless if it doesn’t convert. An SEO copywriter is still a copywriter but with more knowledge of search engine optimization.
5 SEO Copywriting Tips To Increase Your Search Ranking
1. Start with Keyword Research
Before putting pen to paper, take the time to conduct keyword research. I’m always looking for long-tail keywords because they have lower competition than shorter keywords.
Choosing the right keywords to target is essential if you want to write content your readers love. Let’s assume that I want to optimize for the primary keyword “SEO Copywriting”
Looking at this data, I would choose the “SEO copywriting checklist”. It’s a long-tail keyword with low competition and difficulty. It would be easier to rank than “SEO copywriting tools”.
Next, I enter the keyword in Google search to see what type of content already ranks for this keyword.
From the search results, the intent behind this keyword is informational. What subheadings do they use? Are there common themes among the top 10 results?
2. Create a Content Outline
Who is your target audience? Understand that great content must communicate value and show results. If you keep this front and center, you’ll do just fine.
Value is how you replace problems with effective solutions. You know you’re providing value if you’re hitting your content marketing goals.
To create a content outline, start by answering the following question:
- What is the main question I’ll answer?
- Are you solving a problem for your reader?
- What practical advice can I give to help my reader?
- What is the best way to structure the information?
The structure is an important element of SEO copywriting. It helps the reader understand what the post is about, and to grasp the key points.
A clear structure also increases your chances of ranking on Google as well as increasing conversion on your website.
A few tips I use:
- Write down a list of topics on the overarching idea.
- List similar topics that you’ll discuss alongside the main idea.
- Arrange the order of the topics. Start with the basics and flow down to more complex ideas.
- Define keywords, category for the article and content length.
- Have a theme to cover in each paragraph. Begin with the most important sentence and elaborate.
- Use transition words to connect sentences and paragraphs.
- Break down paragraphs with subheadings. It’s great for SEO and improves readability.
3. Write and Edit
The first word is often the hardest. Most times, I start writing the body of text and come back to the introduction when I’m done. It’s just easier that way.
Remember the structure you already created. Be disciplined and follow the outline when writing paragraphs.
Once you’ve finished writing, editing is the next phase. I’m not going to lie; this is my least favorite task. You have to be brutal. Cut and throw out stuff that drags your copy down.
Read it out loud. Does it sound like something you would say in a real-time conversation? Is there a connection between one sentence and the next?
Look for awkward sentences and jargon words that sound ambiguous. If you have the budget, outsource to a freelance editor who is skilled at this task.
Optimize for SEO
First off, Yoast SEO is an awesome tool but it’s not the definitive guide on SEO content that ranks. My best performing content on SERP didn’t score well on Yoast but performed on Google.
Include the primary keyword or its variant in the page title
In the image above, the primary keyword is “copywriting tools”. It’s not compulsory to use the exact words. Writing naturally is more important than keyword placement. Also, include the keyword in the slug or permalink.
Where possible include the primary keyword in the first sentence or paragraph. Again, I have to stress that this is not a rule of thumb.
The image above is from a guest post I published on Jeff Bullas. It ranks position zero for “how to use storytelling in your blog.” Notice the absence of the primary keyword in the introduction?
This is the intro for the blog post on copywriting tools. Again, no keywords mentioned but this post ranks on Page 1. Ideally, aim to incorporate your primary keyword in the first 50 words, for SEO purposes.
Other tips to help you optimize your SEO copy
- Include the keyword in the meta description, alt-image text, conclusion, subheading, and body of text.
- Use variants of the keyword throughout the text.
- Run the top 10 results through Text Razor to extract common entities and phrases. SEMrush Content Template also helps with this task.
- Use Read-able to check the readability of your copy.
- Add images to increase engagement and encourage your readers to keep scrolling.
- Interlink between relevant pages on your website.
- Add outbound links to high authority websites to back-up your claims.
- Avoid jargon words that complicate your message.
- Break up large chunks of text into shorter sentences and paragraphs. Keep paragraph length within two to three lines for mobile viewers.
SEO Copywriting is not boring when it’s written by skilled writers who understand that the reader comes first. Have a defined process. Stay on top Google best practices and ensure your text reads well.
If you want to improve your search appearance or drive more traffic from Google, I can help you build topic clusters and write SEO content that delivers results. Book your free consultation to learn more.