Optimizing your title: This is one of the most important things that you can do to ensure that your title ranks in Google, as well as attracting an audience. This screenshot of the Moz resource on title tags helps you optimize your titles effectively:
Understand your target audience
If you don’t know, then it’s time to talk to them directly. Sit in on sales and support calls, read through call transcripts, and conduct customer surveys. Don’t just read through reviews and testimonials. Find out their pain points and reasons for not choosing your brand over another.
Create a persona for your SEO copywriting efforts. Without a specific target persona, your copywriting will go off the mark and fail to boost ROI. Try creating a persona using a customer survey to target the closest replication to your website’s ideal visitor." — Harriet Chan, Co-founder and Marketing Director of CocoFinder
Jot down topic ideas
Use information from your customer research to brainstorm topic ideas. You can turn questions into blog posts. Plus, you can use tools like Frase and BuzzSumo to find additional ideas revolving around the topics you came up with.
See if you can develop clusters to cover topics adequately. Frase is excellent for this—it shows various LSI keywords/topics so you can ensure your content is in-depth. This will come in handy when creating your outline.
The most common mistake we see in SEO copywriting is not going deep enough into the topic. People hear ‘content is king’, so they write for the sake of writing. Instead, they should think about the reader, not the robot. Why is the person searching for this bit of information? How can I provide an answer that is succinct, valuable, and provide them with the answer they’re looking for? — Steven Jaenke, Founder & CEO of Digimark
Perform keyword research
But don’t just look at the numbers—look at search intent as well. For instance, you can categorize search intent as informational (looking for answers), transactional (looking to buy), or navigational (looking for a specific brand, website, or page).
Then you can take it further by classifying the keywords based on the customer journey—top, middle, or bottom of the funnel. The closer to the bottom, the higher the intent to purchase. It’s ideal to start from the bottom to get higher conversions at the get-go.
Phase two: Writing winning copy
Analyze the first page of Google (aka your competitors)
So analyze their sub-headings to see what they cover. Tools like Frase speed this up by pulling the top 20 pages from the search engine results page (SERP), then laying out their h2s in an easy-to-see format.
Otherwise, click through the top 10 results and look at their structure. See what sub-topics to cover and what they’re missing. Cover the gaps in the content by gathering the h2s from the top 20 (or even 30) pages for the search term.
View the "people also ask" section
Scroll below the ads in Google and you’ll see a "people also ask" section. Here, you’ll find hidden gems to add to your content. Include these questions and answer them thoroughly, so Google (and your readers) find your blog post comprehensive and share-worthy.
Identify rich snippets
Certain search terms bring up maps, signifying a local search. Others may showcase recipes, images, product listings, or answer boxes. See how you can get your content into rich snippets that appear for your search term.
Outline your article
Now, it’s time to create your content outline. Using your research, create a rough outline with h2s covering the sub-topics your competitors are discussing. And the questions in the "people also ask" section. Your outline will evolve as you conduct additional research.
Create your ugly first draft
Some argue against writing ugly drafts, but brain dumping gets you past writer’s block and blank pages quickly. Take all the information you gathered and get them on the page. Then go through it and reorganize it so the flow is fluid.
Make a pretty final draft
Six Elements of SEO Copywriting
That’s because if your content is useful and interesting, but it takes a long time for your page to load fully, your visitors will leave, because their attention span is short. They leave because of a bad user experience.
In our example, the history shows that Psychology Toda≥≤≤÷y had a load time of 2.58 seconds on January 10, 2015. The page size was 1.6 MB at the time. Today, the page size has been reduced to 1.5 MB and the load time improved to 770 milliseconds. This is what SEO firms check first and so should you.
This case study reveals how Smashing Magazine experienced an impressive boost in their conversion rate when they cleared their database of all of the clutter that old plugins had created, then merged all of the databases into one.
Phase 3 of the SEO copywriting process: Editing your text
Once you’ve finished writing your piece, you’ll have the first draft of your article. This first draft is the thing you will improve upon in the final phase of writing. The final step will still take quite a lot of time.
The editing phase is the phase of the SEO copywriting process in which you should ‘kill your darlings’. Don’t be afraid to throw stuff out. You should read and re-read and re-re-read your post and correct any awkward sentences, unclear phrasing, and jumbled paragraph structures. Here are five steps to take in order to thoroughly edit your article.
Step 1: Read slowly (and out loud)
You can start this phase by reading your piece slowly (and even out loud, this can really help). Each sentence should be grammatically correct and the spelling must be flawless. You need to be very critical of your own work.
Step 2: Focus on sentences
Start by making sure each and every sentence is correct. Focus on the spelling of words and rephrase awkward formulations. Make sure sentences are grammatically correct and check for readability: make sure your sentences aren’t too long.
Step 3: Focus on paragraphs
If all sentences in one paragraph are approved, look at the structure within a paragraph, focusing on that first sentence. Does that first core sentence really capture the thing you wanted to say in that specific paragraph? Are the sentences within a paragraph presented in a logical order? Do you use transition words in order to make the connection between sentences clear?
Step 4: Check text structure
You should also check your headings and subheadings. Make sure your focus keyword is in one of those headings and subheadings. But equally important, make sure the headings help your readers to grasp the structure of your text. In the article on how to use headings on your site, we explain how to use them.
Step 5: Ask for feedback
The very final step in your SEO copywriting process is getting feedback. After editing your text, you should ask people for feedback. At Yoast, all the posts we write are read by at least two of our colleagues before we publish them. Feedback allows for the perspective of someone other than the writer and almost always leads to vast improvements in the post.
It would also be useful to let someone from your audience proofread your post to test whether the message is communicated properly. Also, feedback from someone with professional writing and grammar skills, such as an editor, will help you improve your blog post even further.
Use Yoast SEO
While editing your text, you will find our Yoast SEO plugin really useful for SEO copywriting because it helps to optimize your text for search engines and to make your text more readable. For a detailed overview of how to use Yoast SEO when optimizing your content, you should read our post about the content analysis feature in Yoast SEO. The plugin analyzes content in various different languages, so you can benefit from using the plugin, even if you are not writing in English!
SEO copywriting for international sites
Writing well is hard, writing well in multiple languages is even harder! If you own websites for multiple regions and languages you know this is true. Translating content can be a tricky business, because of the phenomenon of false friends in different languages. False friends refers to words that look alike in two different languages, but actually mean something different.
Getting translations probably is the easiest. But it’s also the most tricky one. Are you sure your translation sends the same message and has the same tone of voice as your original article? That’s hard to judge if you’re not a native speaker. Therefore: always have a native speaker check the copy. At least.
Creating new content by your local team is the safest choice, with probably the highest quality result. However, it is very time consuming and you’re not taking full advantage of the content that’s already there.
Therefore we’d advise to “transcreate”: take what you already have as a basis, but rework it so it fits the local target group. Make sure native speakers that know the local market create this content. If you’d like to know more about this, read my article on creating great copy in multiple languages.
“Don’t make the keyword the focus. Instead think about what you’re trying to say and then think about where the keyword fits into what you’re trying to say,” Daryn says. “Especially with your titles — I think it’s really easy to see a keyword and be like ‘here’s a title that makes sense for the keyword’ and then be done. I would say go back and rework it and rethink it to try and find a way to make it sound as natural and as fun and as fitting your brand as possible, because there are likely many ways to write that title that could be way more engaging than ‘X Tips About Keyword.’”
Chapter 1: Art and Science
Finding Your Audience
One of the best tips when it comes to SEO writing is to know your audience. Who are you writing for? What type of writing style or tone do they gravitate the most towards? And more importantly, what type of help do they need?
If they’re looking for help learning about a certain task, they may prefer a detailed post that explains an intricate step-by-step process. A good example would be detailed recipes such as the one found below.
Finding Your Intent
Finding Your Keywords
To make sure that your article will find its way to the search results of your chosen audience, you have to make sure that it is Search Engine Optimized. One of the most important ways you can ensure that your article ranks are through keywords.
Let’s say you were looking to learn about aggregate rating schema for the first time. You could use keywords such as “what is aggregate rating schema” or “aggregate rating schema definition.” They’re short and straight to the point.
However, let’s say you already know about aggregate rating schema and instead you want to learn how to integrate it onto your site. Then, you could use the keyword “how to add aggregate rating schema with coding”. It’s longer, but that extra info is needed for Google to understand what you need.
Chapter 2: Wordsmith vs. Wordplay
Now that you’ve figured out your audience, search intent, and keyword, you’re ready to write. As I mentioned earlier, SEO copywriting is all about finding a balance between what searchers need and what search engines are looking for.
Writing Your Content
First, let’s talk about your content. How long it will be should depend on your target audience. Let’s say you want to target people needing help with an overheating engine. They won’t have time to sit and read through a 2,000-word article. You need to give them tips that they can digest as fast as possible, in a format that they can read easily.
At the same time, you have to take note of your tone. In this situation, you wouldn’t want to read an article written like a scholarly essay, would you? You want something straight to the point. With short sentences. And that is conversational and easy to read.
Writing Your Headings
The H1 is usually the title, which in this case could be “What To Do When Your Car Overheats”. The H2 are your subheadings, these can be used to help feed searchers information faster. These could be points such as “Pull Over”, “Add Coolant”, and “Call For Assistance”. H3s, H4s, H5s, H6s, and so on will be used for additional information. For example, your H3 could be a section about “How To Add Coolant To An Overheating Car”.
Writing With Keyword Integration
Lastly, but definitely not least, we have keyword integration. Keywords are one of the most important factors in a page. It tells Google exactly what your page is about. That’s why it has to be integrated seamlessly into your content.
Make sure you have your keyword on your title. Then, as a rule of thumb, try to place your keyword in 1% of your content. This is called keyword density. You also want to make sure that these are spread evenly throughout your content.
Use the ASMR formula to make consuming your content effortless
Most people will decide whether your post is what they’re looking for based on the quality of your intro. A good intro will keep them reading, and a lousy intro will send them straight back to the search results.
Boost your CTR with these three title tag “hacks”
A. Add “power words”
B. Add parentheses
C. Add the year in your title
Break Up Content with Optimized Headers and Images
“Not only does [using headings] make your content easy to read and digest, you can also add your keyword in there, and H2s and H3s are more heavily weighted than normal body copy in terms of keyword value,” Ellie says. “In the same vein of breaking up the content, images are great. You can optimize the alt tags for your keywords as well.”
If you’re including a visual example of the keyword topic, you could write alt text like “image content description, an example of keyword.” If you’re writing a pros and cons post, you can use “Pros of Keyword” as your section header instead of just “Pros.”
“Your content needs to feel easy to grasp, and the best way to do that is to give people little tastes here and there,” Daryn says. “If you have a really long list, maybe give bullets up front like ‘Here’s the list you’re gonna get. Now read all the details.’ Or if it’s a story with a lot of facts, give subheaders. Barricade it in its own little section with a bullet or a header and don’t try to include multiple ideas per section because that’s not how people read online.”
Consider the Type of Content You’re Creating
The best practices for optimizing a blog post aren’t exactly the same as the steps you’d want to take when optimizing a web page. You need to account for the differing intentions of visitors arriving on those different types of pages and how you expect them to get there.
“The difference between a blog and a product page is that there is less content to work with [on the webpage], but you still want to use alt tags on your images, have the keyword in the metadata and you want to be natural,” Ellie says.
However, on a product page, you shouldn’t include as many internal links as you would in a blog because you’re not trying to create a web of content in the same way and you want visitors to stay focused on your product and on making a purchase decision.
While the main goal of a blog post is to attract traffic and get visitors to initially convert, solution pages aim to educate users about your solutions and landing pages aim to get visitors to submit information. The differing primary purposes can make it more difficult to optimize your copy around a keyword.
“Keywords are often so much harder to work in [on a webpage],” Daryn says. “You have a limited amount of copy to work with, all of which must adhere to a highly rigid structure, and you don’t necessarily have flexibility in terms of what information you can include — you can’t compromise on the information and message you’re conveying.”
A product page might only have five sections, and three of the five could be focused on specific features, making it impossible to work in the keyword naturally more than twice on the page. If that’s the case, Ellie says do the best you can and focus on optimizing the technical aspects of the page while creating the best user experience possible.
If your headline stinks, nobody is going to click through to your website. Don’t be like me. Set aside a substantial amount of time for brainstorming headlines. It may feel like a waste of time at first, but trust me—when your organic CTR skyrockets and your pageviews go through the roof, you’ll be happy you did it.
What is SEO copywriting?
Have you sat through many a meeting listening to the head of marketing drone on about search engine optimisation? Perhaps you’re confused about long-tail and short-tail keywords? Or you just don’t know your PPC from your SERP?
SEO is the means of helping a website appear as high up as possible in the search engine results page (otherwise known as SERP), whether that’s Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other. There are a number of web design and development factors which influence this. However, SEO copywriting involves weaving keywords and phrases that your target audience would use to find you into your website’s content.
SEO copywriting fits into the larger field of search engine optimisation which utilises a range of tactics, including link building, mobile optimisation, load speeds, and content strategy techniques to ensure your site is device and user-friendly, promotes unique and insightful content and provides essential details.
Why is SEO important?
Here’s why: “most people who use search engines only look at the first page or two of the search results, so for a page to get high traffic from a search engine, it has to be listed in those first two pages. If your business is selling products or services over the internet, you want your website to be listed before your competitor’s websites.” (The Balance)
One benefit of SEO is that in and of itself it’s free. Unfortunately, it’s also time consuming. You’ll either need to have a member of your team looking after your SEO, which includes optimising your web and blog content, or you’ll need to hire a freelancer content marketer or outsource your content marketing to an agency. That means there will be an unavoidable cost to you in the long run.
It also doesn’t work over night and can take months to be effective. According to Josh Steimle, “many SEO firms will tell you that it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results. That’s generally accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and SEO results grow over time. Whatever results you’re getting at 6 months should be considerably less than what you’re getting at 12 months. At some point, you may see your results taper off, and then it may be a matter of maintaining results rather than growing them.”
What is SEO copywriting?
SEO copywriting is exactly as it sounds. You’ve got the SEO part: optimizing for search engines, and you’ve got the copywriting part: writing for the purpose of marketing or advertising. SEO copywriting is basically the creation of SEO content—but while content can refer to an infographic that you place into a blog post or a video you create and optimize for YouTube SEO, copywriting refers to the actual words in the written parts of your content.
1. Understand (and match) keyword intent
For the most part, this list of SEO copywriting rules is assembled in no particular order—I don’t necessarily think rule #4 is more important than rule #8. That being said, I’m kicking things off with keyword intent for a specific reason: It’s fundamental to your SEO success.
Real quick for anyone who’s unfamiliar or in need of a refresher: “Keyword intent” refers to the reason people search for the keyword you’re thinking about targeting. Generally speaking, there are three broad types of keyword intent:
Since it’s in Google’s best interest to deliver its users top-notch search results, it rewards marketers who closely match keyword intent. If you tried to target the keyword “history of valentine’s day” with the pricing page for your flower delivery service, you wouldn’t perform very well in the organic search results. Why? Because you’d fail to match keyword intent.
Whether you’re writing copy for your homepage, a blog post, or a product description, effective SEO copywriting starts with an appreciation for the importance of keyword intent. Think carefully about what users are looking for, and then do your best to give it to them.
2. Get to the point
I’ll admit it: I’ve been known to write a lengthy introduction every now and then. As valuable as that may be for those writing term papers or Dickensian novels, when we’re talking about SEO copywriting, we have to keep in mind the ultimate goal: to create relevant content. Relevant content, after all, is the stuff Google puts at the top of the organic results.
Though creating relevant content is largely about matching keyword intent, that’s not the only consideration; it’s also important to prove to Google that your content is pertinent. As I’ve learned first-hand, an effective way to prove the pertinence of your content is to target your main keyword early on in your copy.
50 words in and the writer’s already targeted her main keyword three times. Is that the sole reason this post tops the organic results? No, but it’s certainly one of them. Take a page out of the HubSpot playbook and increase keyword density at the beginning of your next blog post.
3. Refrain from keyword stuffing
To be clear, there’s an important difference between increasing keyword density at the beginning of your next blog post and engaging in what’s known as keyword stuffing—the practice of excessively targeting your main keyword in an attempt to improve organic search performance. Whereas the former is a fair-and-square way to demonstrate the relevance of your content, the latter is an outdated form of cheating.
I recommend staying away from keyword stuffing for a couple different reasons, one of them being the fact that it’s a tremendous waste of your time. I mean, c’mon, it’s 2020, people. If you genuinely believe that Google still falls for stuff like this—
“Email subject lines are important because email subject lines determine whether or not people open your emails. It’s imperative that you A/B test your email subject lines because otherwise you’ll have no idea which email subject lines work best and you’ll be left with middle-of-the-road email subject lines that nobody cares about.”
The other reason I suggest you refrain from keyword stuffing is that it makes for horrendous user experience. Nobody wants to read something that’s clearly written to appease an algorithm. If you engage in keyword stuffing, no one will stay on your website for very long.
4. Speak your audience’s language
That being said, there’s another amazing tool—if you can even call it that—that too few online marketers use to their advantage. It’s free, easily accessible, and immensely helpful for anyone in the business of SEO copywriting.
Let’s say you’re a marketer at an email marketing software company and you’ve been tasked with writing a blog post around the keyword “does email marketing work.” Search that query on Google, scroll to the bottom of the results page, and bask in the glory of highly valuable information: a list of frequently searched queries that are relevant to your main keyword. “How effective is email marketing,” “is email still relevant,” “email marketing stats”—the list goes on.