Have you sat through many a meeting listening to the head of marketing drone on about search engine optimisation? Perhaps you’re confused about long-tail and short-tail keywords? Or you just don’t know your PPC from your SERP?
In fact, just what is SEO copywriting anyway?
Well, fear no more: we provide the ultimate introduction to SEO copywriting.
In a nutshell: SEO copywriting definition
SEO is the means of helping a website appear as high up as possible in the search engine results page (otherwise known as SERP), whether that’s Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other. There are a number of web design and development factors which influence this. However, SEO copywriting involves weaving keywords and phrases that your target audience would use to find you into your website’s content.
SEO copywriting fits into the larger field of search engine optimisation which utilises a range of tactics, including link building, mobile optimisation, load speeds, and content strategy techniques to ensure your site is device and user-friendly, promotes unique and insightful content and provides essential details.
Take a look at this great SEO explainer video from Start Copywriting:
Why is SEO important?
Whether you’re an ecommerce site or an online magazine, SEO is a pretty important piece of digital marketing you should be conducting.
Here’s why: “most people who use search engines only look at the first page or two of the search results, so for a page to get high traffic from a search engine, it has to be listed in those first two pages. If your business is selling products or services over the internet, you want your website to be listed before your competitor’s websites.” (The Balance)
One benefit of SEO is that in and of itself it’s free. Unfortunately, it’s also time consuming. You’ll either need to have a member of your team looking after your SEO, which includes optimising your web and blog content, or you’ll need to hire a freelancer content marketer or outsource your content marketing to an agency. That means there will be an unavoidable cost to you in the long run.
It also doesn’t work over night and can take months to be effective. According to Josh Steimle, “many SEO firms will tell you that it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results. That’s generally accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and SEO results grow over time. Whatever results you’re getting at 6 months should be considerably less than what you’re getting at 12 months. At some point, you may see your results taper off, and then it may be a matter of maintaining results rather than growing them.”
Where should I include SEO?
There are a few places you should aim to use SEO. Here are some:
- Header title/page title
- URL address for that specific page
- Meta description
- Alt text on images
- Content body of your landing pages, product descriptions & blog posts
If you publish content through a platform like WordPress, you will find there are plenty of tools to help you optimise your content. Yoast is one such plugin which operates like a traffic-light system from red to green, telling you when you’ve included your focus keyword in enough places.
However, we recommend not going OTT. So long as you get your keyword into your content at least once and in the meta descriptions/URL/heading, you should be covered.
What makes good SEO copywriting?
You shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between good copywriting and good SEO copywriting. That’s because both should be error-free, benefits-led and appeal to the audience. The only difference is that SEO content is optimised with the use of keywords – but this should read natural, not stuffed and artificial.
According to The Balance, “Current search engine optimization focuses on techniques such as making sure that each web page has appropriate title tags and that the content is not ‘thin’ or low-quality. High-quality content is original, authoritative, factual, grammatically correct, and engaging to users.”
We’ve also mentioned that SEO copywriting goes hand in hand with quality link building with reputable sites. WordStream says that, when it comes to getting SEO, “The most important concept to understand is that, as Google says, you’re more likely to have your content rank higher for keywords you’re targeting if you can get external websites to link to you.”
Therefore, your wider content strategy needs to think about interacting with other influencers on the net and through social media, whether through networking or guest blogging.
You can also use a PPC (pay-per-click) strategy to complement your organic (non-paid-for) SEO, which means you feature an ad to a specific keyword on search engines and pay a fee each time it’s clicked. This enables you to rank on the first page of a set of results easily but is quite costly and is only effective for as long as the ad is there. Therefore, it doesn’t have the same longevity as organic SEO that is incorporated throughout your online presence.
Examples of bad SEO
The Balance notes how “Search engine optimization has evolved greatly over the years. In the early days of SEO web designers would ‘stuff’ keywords into web page keyword meta tags to improve search engine rankings”.
Thankfully, smart copywriters and business owners know how to stay ahead of the Google curve and are aware that keyword stuffing just won’t make the grade. In fact, you’re more likely to be penalised with a lower ranking or being blacklisted altogether.
What’s more, “Poorly edited articles with spelling and grammatical errors will be demoted by search engines.” And you’ll want to avoid simply buying links to back up your SEO – these are usually offered in return for payment but can come from poor-quality, spammy sites which only devalues your rating. Find out what other SEO ‘sins’ to avoid from Smart Blogger.
How do I know what keywords to use?
Starting broad, your keywords will be related to your USPs, industry field, service/product, and location. You’ll need to conduct research to see the kinds of things your customers are searching for. However, there are a number of great SEO keyword tools available to use. To get you started, here are some of the best free ones:
- Google Keyword Planner (you’ll need to set up an AdWords account but you don’t have to credit it with money)
- Keyword Tool
Short-tail vs long-tail keywords?
SEO Pressor defines short-tail keywords as comprising three words and under (e.g. ‘content creation’). By contrast, long-tail keywords are over three words (e.g. ‘SEO content creation agency). The difference? “As keywords get longer, search volume becomes lower. However, all other metrics such as conversion rates go in favor of long tail keywords.”
That’s because long-tail keywords are more specific, so you’re more likely to strike gold in the form of being matched with a customer who is looking for exactly what you have to sell. They’re particularly useful as you narrow down the focus of your website.
While a short-tail keyword is great for driving lots of traffic, it can also see a higher bounce rate, lower conversion rate, and make it less likely you’ll score a place on the first page since you’ll face stiffer competition. However, these ‘head terms’ are good for category pages. On the other hand, long-tail keywords would be better used for individual product pages to better describe what you stock/offer.
Long-tail keywords are increasingly being recommended for use by the likes of Yoast and WordStream since they’re more focused and because they’re more likely to be successful when using voice search – a popular method in the age of voice assist devices.
How can you track your SEO copywriting?
You can track the success of your SEO efforts through the usual content analytics routes. A great starting point is Google Analytics, which provides comprehensive data, including which search terms are most used. The multi-channel report also helps you to compare organic SEO and PPC to check they’re working together.
Learn how to write SEO copy
Considering taking up the challenge of writing your own SEO content? There are some great tools to help you. Medium has an easy to comprehend SEO tutorial for beginners, or there’s a more in-depth tutorial at Hobo. You can even get a handy 4-step SEO checklist from Entrepreneur to help you optimise your website.
If you’re looking to send your staff on an intensive course, or want to learn SEO from a pro, consider signing up for an online course, such as that from Success Works.
Get SEO copy
Want to get SEO content for your website or blog the easy, cost-effective way? Just create a brief with Copify and get access to thousands of copywriters.