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30th October 2020

A Complete Guide to SEO Copywriting

SEO (search engine optimisation) is crucial for visibility online. At the heart of SEO is SEO copywriting and backlinking. How you go about both of them can make or break your search engine optimisation campaigns. This guide focuses on SEO copywriting. You have probably heard the term ‘SEO copywriting’ thousands of times, but you may well be wondering:

  • What is SEO copywriting? 
  • Why do I need it and what will it do for me?
  • Which SEO copywriting techniques do I need to learn or implement?

This guide will provide you with the answers to all of these questions and help you get the best out of all of your online content. After reading this guide, and implementing its content, you will see tangible results and your ROI will also increase. Let’s get started. 

What is SEO?

We’ll start by trying to understand what SEO is, because if we can grasp what it is, understanding what SEO copywriting is will be much easier.

When people want to find a product, learn a new concept or get information, one of the first places they go to is their favourite search engine. In most cases, this is Google, as it executes about 90% of all searches done globally.

After the search, Google typically returns millions of results. But the search giant (and other search engines) can only display a couple of results per page (known as the search engine results pages or SERPs). What’s worse, most users don’t click beyond the first page. A few go beyond page one but never more than page 5.

As a result, everyone is desperate to be on page one of the SERPs, and ideally on the first three results, because the top three get 66% of all clicks.

SEO consists of all the activities that marketers, companies, bloggers do to ensure that their content is displayed among the first three results in the SERPs. If they cannot get in the first three positions, they should, at least, be on the first page.

To break down SEO a little further, there are two main branches: on-page and off-page. On-page SEO consists of every activity you do on your web pages and site to become visible to search engines. Off-page SEO involves things you do outside of your website or webpage to rank it higher in the SERPs. The one thing common to both types of SEO is content – and this is where SEO copywriting comes in.

What Is SEO Copywriting?

SEO copywriting is a subcategory of copywriting that focuses on optimising web copy for all online activities, including ranking high in the SERPs, clickability, and so on.

Traditional copywriting, on the other hand, focuses on writing copy that appeals to your target audience and increases their interaction/engagement with the copy. The goal of conventional copywriting is to persuade customers and readers to take a desired action. This could be anything, such as subscribing to your newsletters or making a purchase.

SEO copywriting does all that while also taking into consideration how search engines work, and carrying out what needs to be done to position your copy in the number-one spot.

Now that we have sorted out what SEO and SEO copywriting are, let's get into the key concepts of SEO copywriting and how to do it.

How Do You Write Copy For SEO Purposes?

 

1. Understand Your Audience

 

The number-one foundation of SEO copywriting is the same as that of all other forms of writing: understand your audience.

We cannot stress this point enough. Every article, sales page, blog, or social media post is written with a specific audience in mind. Until you know that audience more than they know themselves, you will not be able to influence their behaviour and their interaction with your copy. It’s crucial to research and understand your audience.

You should create a customer or buyer persona of your target audience. This is a fictional portrayal of your ideal customer. It includes details of your customers such as their biggest problems, demographics (age, gender, location, job position, income, and so on), their goals and aspirations, the obstacles they face, where they hang out online, the things that keep them awake at night, and more.

The customer persona drills down into your customers head and heart. It gives you a picture of your audience and what influences them. 

There are several tools to use for this purpose. Many of them do not require payment, while there are other paid-for options. While the free tools are usually sufficient to get you started, the paid tools often offer you the dept that you need because they drill into the very heart of your audience. You can use a combination of both sets of tools.

Some examples of tools to use for audience insight are Google search suggestions, Quora, answerthepublic.com, and platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. 

 

2. Understand User Intent

 

When people come to search for something online, they usually have one of three reasons. These reasons are known as user intent. Your understanding of user intents is as critical as understanding your audience. If you don’t understand user intent, even if you do all the other things you will come across in this guide, you will still miss it.

User intent is at the heart of SEO copywriting and SEO in general. If you don’t do the work to both understand and optimise your copy for your user's intent, you should as well not write anything. You'll be wasting your time doing so.

The Three Categories Of User Intent

  1. Navigational Intent: This intent is expressed when a user types in a search term that shows she wants to visit a particular webpage or website – an example is ‘1800 flowers’.
  2. Informational Intent: This intent is expressed when users’ search terms show they are looking for information about a product, certain subject, celebrity, country, and so on. An example is ‘When was Queen Elizabeth born?’ or ‘best coffee brand in England’.
  3. Commercial Intent: A commercial intent is expressed when a user’s search term indicates that she wants to buy a product. Example: ‘buy work shoes for women’.

Reviews can be classified as both informational intent and commercial intent. While a user may be looking to buy a product, the main reason for searching for reviews on a particular product is to gather information about that product. Still, a well-written review can lead to an immediate purchase. A user can search for a product's review to know what others are saying and will not buy, no matter what.

If your SEO copy will get the desired results, it must be optimised for the specific user intent. Your SEO content strategy must include user intents. Without it, it is incomplete and unlikely to meet your desired goals. This guide is aimed at providing information on SEO copywriting, and is optimised for the informational intent. If we optimised it for navigational or commercial intent, you probably would not have found it.

In the same way, if you optimise your sales or product page (which is meant to sell something) with an informational or navigational intent, you’ll hardly get a sale. You’ll be attracting people who only want to read, not those who want to buy.

The user intent usually reflects the phase the customer is in in the customer journey. At each phase of the journey, you target the customer with different content. So, how do you optimise for the right user intent? The answer is keywords.

 

4. Implement A Winning Keyword Strategy

 

When your audience types in a search term in the search engines, they don’t type their intents, they type in keywords. For example, they type in ‘best coffee machines’ and not ‘I want to know about the best coffee machines’. The keywords reveal the intent. 

A keyword is simply the search term your users are typing into the search engines. It can be a word or phrase (keyphrase). A winning keyword is one that is the same as the search term they enter in the search bar, or a close variant. But to know exactly what they’re typing you have to carry out keyword research.

Keywords research is the process of harvesting the search terms your audience is using when looking for information, or your products and services online.

Why Should You Research Keywords?

You might be wondering why you should go through the process of researching keywords. The answer is quite simple. To be able to attract anyone online, you have to incorporate the search terms they use into your content. This is because Google only shows content that it ‘thinks’ relates to the search term (keywords) entered. One way to show Google that your content is related to the keyword is to have that keyword somewhere within your copy.

This process of incorporating specific keywords into your content so that it gets displayed to the right audience (people searching the internet using the same or similar keywords) is called keyword targeting.

The best keyword strategy incorporates two or more of the search terms your audience uses when searching for your content or product. As an example, if you have an e-commerce store selling black luxury shoes for women, women looking for such shoes may type in any one of the following keywords:

  • Black shoes for women
  • Black luxury shoes for women
  • High-end shoes for women
  • Luxury women shoes
  • Women luxury shoes
  • Best luxury shoes for women

After your keyword research, if you find that three of those keywords get the most searches, you can decide to target those three with your content. This way, your content gets maximum exposure following searches based on those keywords.

If your primary keyword is ‘black luxury shoes for women’, that's what you optimise your content for the most. The other keywords (known as semantically related keywords) are secondary, but you don't treat them any less than you treat the main keyword.

There are different tools for researching keywords. Google’s Keyword Planner is one of the foremost free ones.

 

5. Use Captivating But Relevant Titles

 

What is the most crucial goal of the headline or title? To draw the reader in. Yes, your headline needs to tell your audience what the content is about and has to be relevant to the content. But that’s the primary goal of the content, not the most important. As far as copywriting and SEO goes, the most crucial goal of the headline is to attract readers to the content.

When people land on the SERPs (search engine results page), they are usually in an ‘eliminate and choose’ mode because they cannot (or do not plan to) read everything they see. At this point, they usually go with what promises them the most return on time invested, not just with the one that tells them what the content is about.

HOW TO WRITE CAPTIVATING HEADLINES

Here are some great points to enable you to write a captivating headline:

 

  • Build A Promise Into Your Headline

 

The headline for this blog post falls under this category. The enticement here is that after reading this guide, you’ll have a thorough grounding in SEO copywriting. Does that mean that if you read another guide, you will not benefit? And if you benefit from another guide, does that mean that this promise was false? The answer to both questions is no. Notice it doesn't say the only guide, but the complete guide. This means that this guide covers all the necessary topics you need.  

Other examples of headlines in this category include ‘3 tips guaranteed to double your business revenues’, and ‘five simple ways to get two times your current customers’.

Can you tell the promise in both of these headlines?

The reason these headlines work is that people aren’t just looking to solve the problems they want; they also want to ensure they get value for the time they’re currently putting in. These headlines promise them that it will be worth their time.

 

  • Establish Authority With Your Headline

 

Have you ever read an article and felt that you’ve just wasted your time reading someone who doesn't even know what they’re saying? If you have, then you’ll know why the headlines in this category work.

Establish yourself as an authority, and you're sure to get the attention you need. Examples of headlines in this category include ‘A top affiliate’s candid advice on affiliate marketing’ and ‘The 10 best health tips from a world-renowned doctor’.

Although the first headline doesn’t even promise you anything, the fact that it is from a top affiliate will make you want to read it if you are a novice. It also builds in suspense and curiosity. If you are optimistic, you'll interpret it as the keys to succeeding in affiliate marketing. If you are pessimistic, you'll most likely think he's talking about things to avoid. Both are necessary for success so, either way, the headline wins. 

 

  • Use Numbers In Your Headlines

 

Headlines with numbers can boost click-throughs to your content. Numbers are definite and indicate a list of things. People love a good list, even if it is just to scan through.

Whatever you do, make sure that your headlines are relevant to the content. If it is not, Google will know, and that will hurt your rankings.

How will Google know, you ask. Bounce rates. When people eventually click through to your site and realise the heading and the content aren't related, they will leave almost immediately. Google will take note of that by calculating the time spent on your site. The result is that you will begin to lose whatever rankings you formerly had.

It’s important to keep your headlines between 55 and 65 characters. Anything beyond that and Google will truncate it. This will mean that users will not get the full picture when reading that headline in the results pages. They may end up skipping your content for another that is concise.

 

6. Use Killer Intros

 

Statistics tell us that 80% of the people who read the headlines and the intro never get to read the rest of the content. Why does this happen? In most cases, the introduction failed in its primary purpose.

Why Do You Need Killer Intros?

A killer intro is necessary to:

  1. Reinforce the promise made in the title
  2. Establish a bond with your audience
  3. Clearly state what they will benefit from your content
  4. Build expectation in your audience
  5. Grab the reader’s attention
  6. Create excitement about your content

There are several methods to writing a killer intro but make sure you do not commit SEO copywriting suicide by using a boring intro. Your introduction must be captivating, relevant and concise, as well as fulfilling the items in the list above.

 

7. Structure Your Content Properly

 

The most important tip for the body of your content is that it should be structured appropriately and very engaging. If the intro’s job is to create a connection, the body copy’s job is to maintain and deepen that connection while educating, entertaining, and empowering the reader.

There's nothing more infuriating to a reader than to devote time to reading a poorly structured content. Online readers love it easy. They want to be able to browse through it in the shortest time possible. This means they will most likely not read all of your content.

This is OK if you have a good structure. You can still deliver the most value, and they'll come back when they need more. Also, remember that Google is calculating how much time they spend on your site. If the structure drives them away as soon as they land on your page, you have lost even if your value is the greatest on the internet. Your ranking will begin to take a hit.

Make sure that your content flows. Employ writing tools such as:

  • Lists
  • Bullet points
  • Subtitles
  • Varying sentence lengths and structures
  • Good graphics to illustrate
  • Bold characters
  • Short, punchy paragraphs

    8. Optimise Meta Data

 

 

Meta data is everything you see in the Google search results page. It includes two essential parts: the title of the page and the description. 

We have already covered the title/headline, which means we’re left with the description. The goal of the meta descriptions is to provide readers and search engines with information about the page they’ll be landing on when they click the link. As a result, it should be relevant and enticing to click on. 

It should also be concise – 156 characters or less. Google will auto-shorten anything more than this. While writing your meta description, make sure to incorporate your main keywords in it. Where possible, phrase it in the exact words that your audience uses when searching online.

 

9. Calls to action

 

The call to action is the final but the most crucial piece of the puzzle as far as marketing goes. Everything in the copy is meant to make the reader take the desired action. The craft that desired action into a clear and concise call to action.

A call to action is a short, simple statement that tells the reader what to do. For example, after reading about skincare tips on your blog, if you want them to subscribe to your blog's newsletter, you simply tell them to do so. If you want them to buy an organic cream, ask them to do so.

SEO copywriting is at the heart of on-page SEO. While it is still unknown what the exact ranking algorithms are, one of the few clear things is that relevant copy is essential for ranking. It determines whether the search engines will consider your content worth showing to the public (on the first page) or burying among the hundreds of thousands of other pages that will never get viewed.

This guide has covered the fundamentals you will need to succeed as an SEO copywriter. If you want to create a copy that will help you rank, get in touch with us. We're a reputable SEO agency based in the UK. We boast many smart SEO copywriters that can design an SEO strategy, and implement it to help you market your brand or product and rank you high in the SERPs.

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