Every successful digital marketer knows how important content is to an integrated marketing strategy, and most businesses use SEO best practices to drive quality traffic from search engines to their site. One important component to SEO success is how relevant the copy on the page is to the topic someone is searching for. This is where SEO copywriting comes into play. Throwing keywords on a page isn’t SEO copywriting. Instead, it involves a combination of tactics that when followed, can help make the difference on how and where a page is ranked.
What is SEO Copywriting?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or web page from search engines. Search engines prioritize relevance when ranking a site, and part of creating relevance is to create content specific to a searcher’s query. SEO copywriting includes a combination of keyword research, on-page SEO, formatting, and creativity. This mix of activities creates valuable content with specific keywords that can easily be used across platforms. Here are some best practices to follow when embarking on the SEO copywriting journey.
Know your Audience
How can you expect to compel your audience with your writing if you don’t know anything about them? You should take the time to ask yourself who your target audience is and what they want. Some questions to ask yourself include: Who am I trying to reach?How much does my audience know about the topic? What will engage them? What actions do I want the reader to take? Once you have the answers to these baseline questions you can create a buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Personas are important because they make it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, and services to meet the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of the target audience. The more you understand about your customer the more you will be able to write engaging content that results in valuable visitors, leads, and conversions.
Research High Performing Keywords
Keyword research is the practice of researching common, industry-specific terms and phrases that are driving search traffic to search engine results pages. Using these keywords in your content will help search engines understand what keywords you want your page to rank for. This research will also help you uncover the user intent behind the keywords your audience searches for so your content can match their needs.
When conducting your research, remember that a keyword with a high search volume is not always the most appropriate for your site. There is more competition to rank on these keywords since a lot of people are searching for them, so it may be unrealistic for your business. For example, if you’re a small shoe retailer looking to rank on the term “sneakers”, you can expect that Amazon, Nike and other large retailers will have that market cornered.
Instead, focus on choosing medium to low volume keywords or phrases that are more specific to your target user and/or geographic footprint. It is always a good idea to look at what keywords competitors in the industry are using on their site. By using keyword tools, you can compare those keywords to your own and determine which ones are more commonly searched.
Once you have your list of keywords, use them in your meta titles, meta descriptions, subtitles, headings, and body paragraphs. Be careful not to overload your copy with an excessive number of keywords or the copy will not read naturally and can be flagged as a black hat SEO technique. Instead, select a few, but relevant, keywords or key phrases to use. To keep your site current and fresh, make sure to update your content with relevant keywords regularly.
Not sure where to start? There are plenty of free and paid keyword research tools available to you. Some of the most commonly used tools include Google Keyword Planner (requires having a Google Ads account), SEM Rush Keyword (free and paid options), and MOZ Keyword Explorer (a paid tool).
Optimize Headers, Meta Titles, and Meta Descriptions
The first thing a user sees when reading through the search engine results page (SERP), is the page’s meta title and description. A meta title, aka title tag, is the text that is displayed on the SERP listing for a page and browser tabs to indicate the topic of a page. The meta description provides a summary of a web page and is displayed underneath the title tag on the SERP. Titles and descriptions should help the search engine and the user understand what your content is about.Keeping both clear and concise will boost your organic click through rate and page views.
Once a user clicks on your page, they will immediately see your header, or H1. An H1 is a formatting style for a main topic on a webpage. From an ADA perspective, every site page should have one H1, and from an SEO perspective, this same rule applies. Let’s break these elements down even further.
Title Tag: To optimize your title tag you should aim for between 55-65 characters. It is important to stay under 65 characters because Google will shorten title tags that are longer than that. Keep in mind that your tag should accurately match the content on your page and your users search intent.
Meta Description: To optimize your description, you should aim for between 150-155 characters. Google will also shorten your descriptions if they are over character limit so be mindful of your character count. Your descriptions should include a call to action and the keywords you previously researched. Make your description is meaningful by offering a compelling reason to visit your webpage. The meta description does not influence how a page is ranked, but aids visitors in deciding whether to click to your site, so helps your overall SEO strategy.
H1 (Header 1): For both SEO and ADA reasons, every page of your site should have one and only one H1. When deciding on your H1, plan on incorporating some of the stronger keywords researched previously. Often CMS’s will set the page name as the default H1 but you should be able to override that with a phrase that is most appropriate. For an example, a page for Bank in Omaha offering Mortgages might be called “Mortgages” but a better H1 might be “Home Loans in Omaha”.
Add a Compelling Call to Action
Make sure to close the deal with a strong call to action. A call to action, or CTA, is the short copy appearing on a web page that directs the user to do something. CTAs usually perform best when they are unique. For example, if you are a bank trying to get more newsletter subscribers, you may think a good call to action is “Subscribe to our newsletter”. Unfortunately, the user may think it is not worth their time because they don’t know what to expect from the newsletter. Instead use the CTA “Receive powerful financial tips” so the user knows exactly what they are getting out of your newsletter and may even look forward to receiving it every month.
SEO copywriting is part art, part science. Understanding your target audience and the keywords they search for will help you rank for their search queries. Adding compelling calls to action and optimizing your headers, titles, and descriptions will help the user get to your website and stay there.
Most businesses and institutions don’t have an experienced SEO copywriter on staff, so contact us if you need help with a project or on an ongoing basis. ZAG’s experienced copywriters deliver website copywriting services with a consistent tone. Our SEO copywriting services help amplify your SEO success, and we're even available to help with any of your print or other digital copywriting needs.