SEO copywriting is about optimizing content for search engines. It is not very difficult to do and it’s a great way to get free traffic and keep your users happy at the same time. While SEO targets the website as a whole, SEO copywriting is about the content and how to optimize it so that it ranks higher.
The following 10 tips are in my opinion the most important in a period before the release of penguin 2.0 and when content is considered to be the new SEO.
1. Content length does count
When creating content and especially text content (articles), one of the questions that people have (especially beginners to blogging) is: how many words should I make my posts and does content length affect rankings?
The short answer about the last part of the question is YES – content length does affect rankings.
- A study by serpiq showed that top ranking pages (for many keywords) on Google have more than 2,000 words of text.
- A study by seomoz showed that longer content is more likely to get more links.
- An analysis by quicksprout indicates that content with more than 1500 words gets more Facebook likes and tweets.
My experience as well confirms the above findings.
What does Google say about content length and rankings? Their view is not very clear. On May 2011 they released some guidelines for building high quality web sites and many of the criteria were related to content. The general idea was that articles should be thorough and describe a topic in detail. On the other hand, in a discussion in Google webmaster forums, John Muller (from Google) said that Google does not count words but what is more important is the quality and uniqueness of text.
Taking into account all parameters we can conclude that high quality content that is above 1500 words is more likely to perform better in search.
2. Speak your users language
In particular Matt said: “Include the right words on the page, Think about what the user is going to type and include those words”.
Using keywords in your copy is not bad provided that you don’t overdo it. Nobody wants to read keyword stuffed articles or pieces of content produced merely for search engines.
What you should do? Do a bit of research before you write:
- Check the with Google keyword tool to find out what users are searching
- Search your keywords on Google and see related topics (either as you type your query or at the bottom of the page)
- Check also with Bing keyword tool and Yahoo search assist.
3. Focus on the long-trail
When thinking what to write about, don’t always go for the obvious because certainly a thousand (or more) people have already thought about this! Even if you write a superb piece of content about a high competitive keyword the chances of ranking for that keyword are minimum to zero. Fortunately there is a way out – and this is where long-trail keywords come into rescue.
Let me demonstrate with a real example of what we mean by long trail keywords. Assume that you want to write an article about “weight loss”. After searching with the keyword tool you found that the term ‘weight loss tips’ has a lot of searches and good CPC and you decided to go for that term.
If you search Google for that term you will notice that there are already trusted sites ranking for the term with thousands of incoming links and social media mentions. In other words it is impossible to challenge them especially if your website is new.
If instead of “weight loss tips” you choose to write about “weight loss tips for men”, then there is less competition and more opportunities for you to get one of the top positions (try searching for “weight loss tips for men” on Google and you will see my other website caloriesecrets.net on the 3rd position).
Other long trail terms for the same keyword are: “weight loss tips for teenage girls”, “weight loss tips for women over 40”, “weight loss tips that work” etc. The combinations are a lot you need to think a bit out of the box and be creative with your choices.
4. Optimize your titles
Titles should be optimized but not keyword stuffed. To continue with the same example as above, let me show you some good article titles you could use:
- 10 Weight loss tips for men
- Everyday weight loss tips that work
- 5 Weight loss tips for women over 40 that make a difference
The titles above use the keywords you want to rank for (in bold) but at the same time they are also social and interesting. Read my previous post, how to choose your blog post titles, for more step by step examples.
5. Work on your descriptions
Besides optimizing your titles, you should also optimize your descriptions. The description is what searches see in the results page. If your description is interesting and sells, you will have a high CTR (click through rate), if not you need to make your descriptions better.
On websites I am doing SEO, this is one the things we look during the SEO Audit phase and in many cases we have managed to increase traffic by just playing around with descriptions. It’s amazing what a bit of tuning on your descriptions can do in terms of traffic and visits without gaining a higher ranking.
What are search engine optimized descriptions?
- They are unique for the page
- Between 150-160 characters
- They include keywords if appropriate but they are also social and catchy
6. Take advantage of Google Authorship
Google authorship is a relatively new feature introduced with Google+. Basically if you have a Google+ profile and follow some configuration steps you can become a Google verified author and take ownership of the content you publish either on your website or as a contributor to other sites.
Google may choose to show your image along with the search results (search for “reliablesoft.net” on Google and you will see my picture along with the title and description of the site).
What are the advantages of implementing Google authorship?
- It’s a signal of trust and a quality factor
- Several studies show that searches are more likely to click a link when the author image is displayed
- Searches can find out more about you and connect with you by clicking your image from the search results page.
- If you are active on Google+ and have a number of followers, you can also be considered an expert for a given topic.
7. Promote your work
This is not actually an SEO Copywriting tip but it is something forgotten by many webmasters. When you publish new content you HAVE To promote it. Don’t expect that magically people will starting sharing on Facebook and commenting.
If you are not sure how to promote your content: read this post, if you don’t have time: maybe it’s better to reduce your publishing frequency and find time to do your promotion.
8. Keep your content fresh
I have talked many times about the importance of content freshness, what I can add here is this: The competition is huge for every keyword you can think of and search engines are trying to bring the most relevant results to their users. One of the factors of relevance is time and in terms of content this means up-to-date content.
If the search engines had to choose between two quality posts, one written the last week and one written last year, both talking about the same topic, which one should they choose? You can place your money on the most recent version because like us (bloggers), search engines need to keep their user’s happy and up-to-date with the latest developments in any topic.
9. Beautify your text
When I was writing code one of my favourite functions was the ‘Beautify button’. What that button did was to make the code look more beautiful by applying proper indentation etc. When it comes to SEO Copywriting, beautify is about making your text look good both for your readers and for search engines as well. Don’t just throw text on a page and expect that anyone will read it. Spend some time and work on your copy both for SEO purposes but also for readability.
- Make proper use of H1 and H2 (read my SEO tips for beginners for examples)
- Use small paragraphs
- Use a font that users can read easily
- Use bold / Italics to draw the reader’s attention to important points
- Make your copy suitable for skimming by using headings, sections, lists etc.
10. Improve your quality
Until now, all the copywriting tips had one very important goal: to improve the quality of your content. We have talked about creating more detail articles that speak the searches language and how to create good post titles and descriptions.
All these are steps for creating good quality content but the story doesn’t end here. Quality content has these characteristics as well:
- It is based on either the experience of the author or on known facts and figures
- Shareable on social media
- Better than the competition
The bottom line
For some people these SEO copywriting tips may sound basic but if you look around many webmasters are not following them and its a shame because they are easy to implement and they can really bring value of a web site.