Take a look at any discussion surrounding SEO or content creation and you are no doubt repeatedly slammed with the phrase “content is King”. While well intended, this phrase has given business owners and marketers the green light to pump out content like Krispy Kreme pumps out donuts. The problem with this is the content produced is often far from regal and at a level that could be described as Court Jester at best.
Today, we live in an age of fast-moving consumer goods. This phenomenon is commonly seen in fashion, beauty, homewares (hello, Kmart!) but also you guessed it, written content.
Often with fast-moving consumer goods the quality is on the lower end of the scale but that does not need to be the case with SEO copywriting. Believe it or not, it’s possible to put out great content that is optimised for both users and search engines at a good pace, you just need to approach the task strategically.
First, what is SEO copywriting?
The purpose of written content is to educate, engage and persuade the audience to convert into customers and brands have been utilising effective copywriting strategies to generate business for centuries. In today’s online focused world, basic copywriting strategies are simply not enough, SEO strategies should be included so that content performs well both for readers and for search engines.
Simply put without the inclusion of SEO, website content may not even be found by users. This makes SEO copywriting one of the most powerful marketing tools you can use in online business growth plans.
So, how do you create SEO content that engages an audience, drives traffic, attracts backlinks and isn’t keyword stuffed to oblivion? It’s simple, read on.
Establish who the ideal audience is
Okay, I know we are starting with a basic point here that many are already aware of. Still, I cannot tell you how many times we have consulted with a business owner or marketing manager who cannot confidently describe to us who the brand’s typical customers are or who the brand would ideally like to target with SEO copywriting strategies.
Through website data analysis and competitor review we are able to define segments of users along with their interests and pain points to target with content. However, ideally you will incorporate more into your research and get customer insights directly from the brand to achieve a holistic view of the ideal audiences. Sometimes the information you uncover about audience segments will come as news to the brand, which is why you should do your own research as well and not just take the brand’s insights as gospel, then combine all of the information.
Points to review and note about target audiences include
- Current customer base from website analytics data
- Current customer base from business data where possible
Spreadsheets are invaluable here, you should absolutely be mapping this out and retaining a record for when you move onto the next steps.
Have a defined purpose for each piece
A comprehensive SEO content strategy should serve a diverse set of purposes. This may include backlink attraction, sharing news, establishing authority, overcoming pain points etc.
Keep in mind potential customers can interact with a brand between 7 and 13+ times before buying. So, the objective of written content is to continually push the reader towards taking positive action with the brand and becoming a customer. There are 3 stages of the buyer journey to keep in mind.
The Buyer’s Journey
Planning out SEO copywriting efforts is essential, as content targeting users at various stages of the buyer journey will be approached differently.
Take some time to step back and assess the website’s existing written content footprint. Where are there gaps that can be filled at each of the buyer journey stages that will push users further down the sales funnel towards a purchase decision? Ignoring this step is leaving money on the table.
Not having this plan in place is a very common mistake that isn’t always talked about. Again, this goes back to the trend we are seeing of online entrepreneurs pushing brands just to pump out content. Don’t fly blind, perform a content gap analysis and map everything out to get the best return on time and money spent!
Choose effective keywords and sub topics to cover
This is where things can go really haywire, especially if you employ SEO copywriting tactics from 15 years ago. Don’t make the mistake of obsessing over things like keyword density. Firstly, because it’s 2019 and secondly because if you set a quota of how many times to repeat one specific keyword cluster you will probably write a piece that no one is going to engage with. You don’t need to repeat the exact same cluster of words in the piece to rank the content in search engines for targeted queries. Don’t be that guy, DON’T DO IT. Rather than approaching keyword research as simply building a list of word groups to mindlessly inject into the content until it ruins the flow and quality, why not think of it as the opportunity to identify questions you can answer and topics you can explore for the ideal reader?
When it comes to the actual identification of keyword opportunities for SEO there are many tools out there to help you with this, just Google keyword research tools and you will find plenty. When performing keyword research, I strongly urge you to look beyond the typical two word clusters with the largest reported search volume that many SEO copywriters focus on.
Compile a diverse mix of short and long-tail keywords to target. Then take the keyword clusters you identify and actually look at the search results for those related queries so you can uncover an opportunity the brand can succeed with. For example if we are working on a brand new site, without much strength behind the domain, is it realistic that the site will outperform the competitors on first page for the short tail keywords in a reasonable amount of time? If not, it may be more beneficial to target more long tail clusters than short until the website’s strength has increased. SEO is a long term marketing process, but there are ways you can grab low hanging fruit for brands and this is one of them. Also, don’t discount long-tail search queries at any stage, while their search volume may be lower these searches are hyper-focused and research suggests that they can convert 2.5 times better than head terms!
Extra tip: look beyond the typical keyword research tools and investigate the questions the target audience actually asks. I know, groundbreaking right? But again, many people are NOT doing this. So, jump into forums, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, YouTube and anywhere else the audience segments hang out online and ask questions.
Structure matters in SEO copy
If the keyword and topic research process has been successfully performed this should be a no-brainer because the main topics, subtopics and questions to include are already identified. Prepare a little guide or brief, mapping out the intended structure so that everything flows well for the reader and the key points for SEO are covered.
Remember, length also matters. The average first page result in Google contains 1,890 words. Now, does that mean you should blabber on about nonsense to make up that word count? No, please don’t. Not only is it annoying for the user but it can negatively impact the brand’s credibility as an authority in their niche. Add length only by adding value, not by rambling. Again, this is why the keyword and topic research is vital.
Make the content easy to scan
Did you know 79% of web users SCAN a new page for valuable content, with the minority of users actually reading word for word?
Taking this point into account, an SEO copywriting strategy should make it easy for users to identify relevant and valuable points in the content.
Strategies to consider include
- Sticking to one idea per paragraph
- Bulleted lists like this
- Spaced out content, like our introduction work well. Large blocks of content can be too daunting.
- Highlighting key points
People are busy, give them the facts and value points as quickly and easily as possible. The users who want to read more in depth will do so.
Create linking opportunities
Links are incredibly important when it comes to search engine optimisation, where you link to is as important to consider as who links to you.
When writing SEO copy for website, take the time to create internal linking opportunities. This will help users stay engaged on the website longer and help increase the authority and strength of deep web pages and the overall website. Again, do this where it adds value. Don’t link to random areas of the website willy nilly.
In addition, linking out to high authority sources of information not only provides further value to the reader but it can also improve the credibility of the content. Linking to non-relevant or spammy sources can obviously have the opposite effect. The word from Google is that linking out bears no impact on keyword rankings and SEO however there were some third-party studies suggesting this may not be the case.
Search Engine Optimised Metadata
We have discussed how SEO copywriting gets content seen on search engines, but what is the point of getting seen in search results if you don’t get any clicks?!
Correctly optimised metadata entices the user to visit a website by quickly providing them with an idea of what contained in that particular page. There is a limited amount of space here to create an impact, so get creative and strategic here.
If you want to learn more about how to optimise metadata, visit our blog post on Meta Title & Meta Description Tag importance for SEO (hello internal linking opportunity – we practice what we preach).
Don’t just regurgitate or reword what is out there
Curating search engine optimised content that is jam packed with brand new ideas exclusive to the brand is near impossible today. I get it. But the amount of times we see “SEO copywriters” blatantly duplicating content from other online outlets is astonishing and quite frankly it’s indicative of laziness.
The idea that you can just pump out any old content and succeed online is a fallacy, so listen to the “online entrepreneur gurus” at your own peril. Many of these people are selling a dream, don’t drink the koolaid. Do the work, create great content and put it out into the world. I am not saying to get bogged down in perfection but make sure you have something good to say. If the topic something that has been discussed a billion times, share a different take on it if possible or add value in the way that makes sense for the brand. Ask, how can I contribute something beneficial here for the reader? Give people something to think and talk about. That is how you will get those shares and organic backlinks.