Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is inextricably linked to copywriting. When you improve your performance in one, the other will benefit. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, and your content creation must keep up. Creating valuable content that aligns with SEO best practices is even more challenging. Neither field is easy to break into, so most people aren’t SEO experts or experienced copywriters.
Don’t let that discourage you. It’s actually good news. It means that learning how to use SEO for effective copywriting will give you the power to transform your business. Your competitors won’t know what hit them.
Write for Your Audience
If you’re just getting started with SEO, you may want to produce copy geared toward search engines. Many budding writers read about keywords, and they reflexively use as many of them as possible, assuming that more is better.
Fittingly, this practice is called keyword stuffing. A search engine might initially boost your page’s ranking for employing this tactic, but that won’t last. You even run the risk of being penalized by the search engine.
Search engine algorithms are getting smarter every day. Their developers’ goal is to create an algorithm that successfully mimics a human searcher.
If you write with your audience in mind, search engines will reward you. That is, after all, the purpose of the algorithms.
Try reading your copy aloud to yourself. Does it feel repetitive? Stilted?
Your writing should flow and feel natural. Reading aloud might feel odd, but it’s the best way to put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
The copy you write should be free of spelling and grammar errors too. Spell check and software programs like Grammarly can help you catch less apparent mistakes.
You should also ensure that your content scores well on readability metrics. Most writers aim for a sixth- or seventh-grade level for maximum reach. The level you seek to write at might be different, as it depends on your audience.
Finally, your writing should be accessible. Accessibility relates more to web design, but it’s still important for SEO. Images on your site should have alternate text. Offering video transcripts and closed captions is a great way to add more keywords while benefiting a wider audience. Use fonts and text colors that are easy to read. Be mindful of dyslexia and different types of color blindness.
Following these guidelines increases your odds of attracting positive attention from readers and algorithms.
Use High-Quality Sources
This advice might remind you of writing papers in your high school or college days, and for a good reason. Your teachers likely emphasized how crucial it was to cite quality sources in your writing. In school, you received a lower grade if you didn’t.
Similarly, using dubious sources in your copy will cause your page ranking and reputation to suffer. Imagine that I duplicated this post. The two pieces are identical, except in one, I cited statistics I got from an obscure web forum. On the other, I cited numbers from a news website or scholarly paper.
Which are you more likely to believe?
You might not be in the habit of following links to see from where your information comes. However, search engine algorithms are.
Let’s look back on the history of SEO.
Back in 2003, Google was already looking at ways to ensure the websites they promoted were worthwhile. They came out with the Hilltop algorithm, which is a foundational aspect of modern SEO.
Hilltop first looked for pages that could be considered expert sources. If you’ve ever been told to rely on sources with .edu domain names, Hilltop is why. From there, the algorithm looked at other websites. It determined their relative authority based on the expert sources to which they linked.
SEO has grown in scope and complexity since then, but the basic principles are the same. When your information comes from a source with a good reputation, the source will pass on that authority to you.
Domain authority is the technical term for a website’s relevance. Part of domain authority is the quality of the information the website offers. If you’re curious, there are free and paid tools available online to check domain authority.
Produce Valuable Content
You will hear the idea that “content is king” echoed everywhere. Your content already has value if you’re gearing it toward your audience and doing your research. But, you still have more work to do.
To make the leap from content that has value to content that is valuable, offer your readers something.
In most cases, you’re going to be offering your readers a solution to a problem. Let’s use this very article as an example.
I’m addressing two related issues. The first is that SEO is tough to master without hiring an employee dedicated to the task. You need to know a lot, and the industry is dynamic. The second is that creating copy is challenging and time-consuming. Not everyone has the time or desire to write.
In this blog post, I offer ideas on where to begin. I could write an entire book on SEO for copywriting, but that’s not an effective medium. You’re probably an entrepreneur. You have more important things to do with your time than read that hypothetical book. Therefore, I’m writing this blog post as an outline. You get the critical points without wasting your time on fluff.
I’m also offering a solution. Rather than struggling to implement SEO or create copy for yourself, you can hire Copywriter Today.
We’ll do what we do best: writing copy to help optimize your web page and grow your business. You will do what you do best with the time you save, which is running your company.
Apply a similar approach to writing copy for your company, customizing it to suit your industry. Copy is essentially an extended if-then statement written to be persuasive. If you are facing this issue, then this is the right solution for you.
Don’t Skimp on Headlines
The headline of your article is the first thing your reader sees. If it isn’t compelling, it will be the only thing they see because they won’t be interested in reading further. You want to avoid that at all costs.
The key elements for a good headline are tone, length and language. The most effective tone for you to use will depend on your target audience. Generally, you want a positive tone. You’re offering a solution to potential customers, and they want to believe it’s possible.
In some cases, negative tones work better. The problem you’re offering to solve might be frightening. Maybe you’re relying on morbid curiosity to draw in your audience.
The length of your headlines matters too. If they’re too short, your copy will disappear into the depths of a search engine. You can avoid this problem easily with keywords. Your headline should almost always contain your primary keyword. Good keywords tend to be specific phrases, which are a good length for headlines.
Imagine if the title of this article was “SEO” or “Copywriting.” You wouldn’t have any idea what it was about. If by some chance you stumbled across it, it likely wouldn’t be what you were looking for. By contrast, consider the current title: “How to Use SEO for Effective Copywriting.” You’re searching for how to use SEO to produce more effective copywriting. That’s the information we’re offering. The search engine knows how to connect us.
Finally, the language you use in a headline matters. Some contain numbers, which appeal to people looking for easy-to-follow steps or a list of facts. Others appear as questions or answers similar to what you might search for.
The best headlines anticipate what searchers are looking for before they begin typing. When your page appears in the search results, it’s what they click.
Take Advantage of the Meta Description
My final piece of advice is to remember to use meta tags. A meta tag is an HTML feature that includes relevant metadata for a web page. The most common and essential for our purposes is the meta description.
A meta description isn’t visible on a webpage. If you’re interested and have a Windows computer, use the keyboard command Ctrl + U. For a Mac, Command + Option + U should produce the same result.
Don’t panic. You don’t need to understand what you see to spot the meta description. It’s usually near the top of the page.
Search engines use meta tags to help decide what a webpage is about. They may also display the meta description on their results page. You should include your main keyword in your meta description and keep it around 150 characters. Make it too long or too short, and the search engine, along with your human audience, will disregard it.
A recent survey found that spending six hours on a single post produces better results. That’s in keeping with the idea that you’ll see a return on the effort you put into something. It’s barely feasible for professional bloggers. If you’re running a successful company, you don’t have that kind of time.
That’s where Copywriter Today comes in. We have a team of highly skilled professional copywriters already familiar with SEO. Allow us to put in the time and effort necessary to draw more eyeballs to your content. To learn more, schedule a free consultation today.