Attracting people to your website is not always easy, but a good SEO strategy can definitely help. One key component of good SEO is making sure your content is SEO-friendly. Understanding the basics of SEO copywriting will help you attract visitors, engage your readers and establish yourself as an online authority.
Step one: SEO copywriting starts with finding that perfect keyword
People find your website by using specific keywords in a search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo!. Once you’ve chosen a blog topic that is relevant to your target audience or industry, pick a specific keyword that you know people will search for, and intersperse that keyword throughout your text, balancing it with secondary keywords.
What exactly is a keyword though? A keyword is an idea or topic used to describe your content when entered as a search query. A keyword can also be a keyword phrase, which consists of two or more words used to describe your content. For example, if you’re writing a blog post on vintage cars from the 1950s, your primary keyword phrase could be “vintage cars”. The more specific your keyword, the more longtail it becomes. A longtail keyword is a keyword with lower search volume than broad keywords, but more targeted. These are the ones that you should be looking for. Example – “Porsche vintage car 1960.”
Secondary keywords or keyword phrases are linked to your original keyword but are somewhat different and less targeted. Using the previous example, a secondary keyword phrase could be “old-timer cars.”
Choosing a keyword can be tricky and is often one of the most difficult elements of good SEO. You’ll want to avoid keywords that are too general – targeted keywords bring in targeted traffic. If your keyword were simply “car”, you’d be casting your net too wide reaching modern car lovers, sports car fanatics and those looking for a reliable family car. There’s a fine line between being too general and being too specific, however. A keyword is no good if no one searches for it. Using “’57 Chevy” as keyword, for example, would not bring in sufficient traffic.
Rule of thumb: stick to one primary keyword or keyword phrase, and have four to six secondary keywords for variation.
Step two: Create a catchy headline
Once people have found your blog post through search engines, they must be convinced to click on the link. If your headline is attractive to your readers, they will visit your website, regardless of your SEO ranking. If your headline is mediocre, your click-through rate will remain low, no matter how valuable and SEO-friendly your content is.
A few tips:
- Include your primary keyword or keyword phrase in your headline, but make sure it seems natural.
- Keep your title under 72 characters if you want it to be fully visible in search engine results. This will help increase your click-through rates.
- Headline formulas that see more click-through rates include questions, lists, how-tos, secrets and mistakes.
Step three: SEO copywriting is all about focus on your content
Once you’ve attracted readers to your page, make sure you keep them there. Grab their attention with a compelling introduction that contains at least one of your alternative keyword phrases. The higher a keyword is placed in a text, the more relevant your text will be to readers, according to Google.
Backlinko provides an effective way to structure your content. Focus on a particular problem you know your reader is struggling with and offer a solution.
Agree – Start your introduction by making your reader agree with a concept, a frustration or a point of view. This shows the reader that you understand their problem.
Promise – Your readers agree with what you’re saying, now describe to them an ideal world where their problem does not exist.
Preview – Give your readers the solution: you’ve fixed their problem.
Your introduction has gotten your readers hooked and your content will be valuable enough for Google to share with others.
Finally, make a few adjustments in your body text for it to become even more SEO-friendly:
- A blog post should be meaty: it should count at least 750 words.
- Each blog post should contain at least one internal link to a previous article or a page on your website. Ideally, this would be a ‘dofollow’ link to increase the link juice.
- Each blog post should include at least two external links: choose a word related to your keyword and link it to a reliable and relevant website, or link to your sources. Adding links shows Google that you value what other people create and that you contribute to their mission of making information universally accessible.
- Use headings to break up your content. <H1> headings are generally reserved for the title of your blog post, so use <H2> headings to create your subheadings and put some structure in your text. Be sure to repeat your keywords in the headings several times. When using HTML 5 and the <article> tag it might be that you are using multiple <h1> tags which will cause no harm to your SEO.
- Use bullet points to highlight key content points and summarize the article. Make sure you use <ul></ul> tags. Using these alerts Google to structured content.
- Avoid keyword stuffing! Once again, there’s a fine line between not having enough keywords in your text and having too many. Follow your instincts and make sure it reads naturally. Don’t follow guidelines that tell you to have minimum x% of your main keyword in the text.
Step four: Be mindful of other influencing factors
When entering a search query on Google, you get a list of links to choose from. A meta description is the small, gray text underneath the link that describes the content of the page. These descriptions both guide search engines and help users to understand the topic. This is your chance to grab the reader’s attention and convince them to click on the link to your site. Add a call to action for full effect and make sure your meta descriptions are unique for every page. Keep your description under 150 characters (including spaces) and under 113 characters for mobile-friendliness.
Using software such as ScreamingFrog will help you discover which meta data information is missing.
Google values the user experience of a page and will penalize you if your website isn’t optimized. This includes mobile-friendliness and loading time: It’s up to you to keep your readers on your page and a slow loading time or badly-adapted website will lose them – and Google’s interest in you – immediately.
Want to know how fast your website is loading? Check out this Google Developer Tool.
Spiders are search engine robots programmed to scour the web, every minute, every hour. When a Google spider crawls through your web page, it’s looking for fresh content. The more you post, the quicker they’ll come back. Keep in mind that Google spiders index this information through meta tags, so keep those up-to-date.
Meta tags are little snippets used to describe the page’s content: they’re not visible to the reader, but are a part of the page’s code.
Adding images to your blog post positively influences the time people spend on your website: readers appreciate visual elements in the text. Ideally, you should have at least two images in your blog post. The images should be relevant to the topic – Google’s scanning software will know if they aren’t! Every image requires an ALT-tag with a relevant keyword. Your keyword should also be mentioned in the image file name.
In need of royalty free images for your blog? Check out the Pexels website.
The world of SEO is vast and ever-changing. Google continually updates their algorithms and although they’ve hinted at what are considered good and bad SEO factors, there’s no one certain formula to get your website to rise in the ranks. That said, as long as you follow these basic SEO guidelines, you shouldn’t have to worry.