4 SEO Copywriting Tips For Sharper, More Effective Copy
I can’t remember the last time a website I worked on was delayed for technical reasons.
It’s never the coding that causes delays.
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 a copywriting deadline.
Copywriting is hard.
Writing copy that is SEO friendly can be intimidating.
But even novice SEO copywriters can make a huge difference by doing a few simple things.
1. Target 2–3 Keywords Or Keyword Phrases
Many new SEO copywriters make the mistake of targeting too many keywords or keyword phrases on a page.
In my experience, if you are trying to target more than two to three keyword phrases on a single page, your copy will sound scattered.
Focused copy is typically the best sales copy.
And even in long-form pieces, targeting too many keywords – especially non-related keywords – results in copy that doesn’t grab the reader.
Copy that is not focused does not move the reader to the desired action – in other words, the conversion.
I recently was part of a Twitter conversation where the participants were lambasting a conference speaker for saying that a blog post should be 2,500 words.
The conference speaker may be right.
The conference speaker may be wrong.
There is no “magic word count” number that a post should be.
Your content should be as long as it needs to answer your site visitors’ questions adequately.
If you can answer the question in 50 words, you may only need 50 words on that page.
As long as both site visitors and search engine robots can determine the page’s context, 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 conference speaker opinions, Google doesn’t care how long your post is either.
Writing copy that is too “big for its britches” tends to be unfocused.
Long-form copy is great for customers looking for information or at the top of the buying funnel.
But visitors ready to buy or become a lead have most likely done their homework.
Rehashing information they already know is more likely to cause the visitor to lose focus, leave, and not become a sale or lead.
But even the most grizzled copywriting pros benefit from targeting just a couple of keyword phrases in their writing.
The writing tends to become crisper and more focused.
And it tends to convert better.
2. Break Up Your Copy
Large walls of words can be intimidating on a web page.
When a visitor encounters a page that is nothing but pixels and pixels of copy, it can be off-putting enough to procrastinate, thus causing the visitor to leave the page.
Using graphic elements such as bulleted or numbers lists, pull quotes, ample images, etc.
Webmasters can turn intimidating-looking walls of words into attractive web pages that actually convert visitors into buyers.
I’ve seen a page go from not converting anyone into anything to sales machines merely by making simple adjustments to the formatting of the page.
One thing that baffles me is the reluctance of B2B marketers to put any images of a living, breathing human being on their page.
We know that images of smiling, happy people typically increase conversion rates on B2C pages, but we forget that B2B customers are merely B2B consumers at work.
But do I know that an image of a real, happy smiling customer will increase the conversion rate of your blog post?
No, I do not.
In fact, I’d want to test several combinations of graphic tweaks on a wall of words to figure out what works.
The other day some fellow agency owners and I were talking about the unique selling points of our agency.
My friend said he thought his agency may have performed more A/B tests than any other agency currently in business today.
In my opinion, that’s an amazing selling proposition.
He certainly knows that images of smiling, happy people aren’t just for consumer products anymore.
3. Keep Your Keywords On A Post-it Note
Everyone knows when you are watching your weight, one of the most beneficial things you can do is track your caloric intake.
When writing copy with an SEO focus, it’s important to keep track of the words you are writing.
Specifically, it’s important to understand how frequently you use your keyword phrase throughout your copy.
Just as with the overall word count, there isn’t a hard and fast limit on how many times you can use a keyword in a specific piece of copy.
Novice SEO writers tend to stuff the copy full of keywords, so it reads like a repetitive catalog entry.
This is not the way.
The copy must make sense to the end consumer.
The copy needs to appeal to the search engine robots, 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 a page is about a certain keyword phrase.
Anecdotal, I tell writers to try to include each targeted phrase in a block of copy at least two times.
But there are many times it makes sense to use a phrase more than two times.
I would caution just using a keyword phrase one time.
For phrases that aren’t as competitive, with other signals, you can rank a page with just one keyword phrase mention, but more often, it takes more than just one mention.
But that brings in the post-it note.
When creating SEO copy, I write my keywords down on a post-it note that I place beside my keyboard.
As I write the copy, I make check marks for each keyword phrase as I use it.
But I try not to count the keyword phrases as I write the first draft.
I just put down a checkmark 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 mentions to make sure I’ve gotten everything in.
If everything isn’t included, or if I found that the copy didn’t flow around the targeted keywords, I re-organize and start again.
It can be a frustrating process at first, but eventually, you’ll get to where you can just make tweaks to the draft to go live with a final version.
4. Read The Copy Out Loud
When in doubt, read your copy out loud.
If you still aren’t sure, read it aloud to someone else.
When you read the copy out loud, you aren’t necessarily looking for ways to make the copy better – it should be good by the time it gets to this point.
Reading the copy aloud helps SEO specialists and Webmasters understand if the copy flows.
When we try to stick a round peg into a square hole, it doesn’t fit.
The same is true when we try to target a keyword on a page where the context doesn’t match the intent of the targeted phrase.
Reading copy out loud will almost always uncover if a page is over-stuffed with keywords.
What we find is that you can actually fit a lot more keywords into the copy than you think – and the flow still works.
Usually, by reading the copy out loud we find at least one to two more instances where we could logically use a keyword phrase in the copy.
There are simple steps any copywriter can take to make their content more SEO friendly.
And those steps don’t take years of training to perfect.
Always be testing, and realize that if the search engines understand the copy’s context and users are persuaded to take some sort of desired action, you are golden.
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