Even though it may have been a few years, we all have writing experience. From crafting letters to those old high school research papers, we’ve all written something. Each item, however, has its own unique rules that you need to follow. SEO copywriting is no different.
For example, you should avoid using the passive voice and first-person tense while writing a research paper. You probably don’t need to provide sources for a thank-you letter to your grandmother for that (less than comfortable) sweater.
You’ll also find that SEO copywriting adheres to its own set of guidelines. Your goal is to not only write engaging copy but to write copy that’s going to rank highly in Google. Your goals may vary from boosting your organic traffic, providing information, or generating leads. However, none of that can happen if you’re sitting back on Page 19 of the SERPs (search engine results page).
Today, we’re going to run over several tips you need in order to make sure you’re writing effective SEO copy.
1. Write for Search Intent
Fans of Shark Tank are well aware of some of the pitfalls that show participants run into. Even though a product may look interesting, the Sharks instantly lose interest when they hear how poor the item is selling.
These would-be-business-moguls probably didn’t do enough research to see what people actually wanted or needed. The all-in-one “Mop and Grill 3000” sure seemed great, but if no one is going to buy it, what’s the point?
The same kind of thought process needs to go into your writing. You might have a great idea for a topic, but if no one is going to search for it, then why write about it?
This Means Writing for Humans!
Even though Google appears to be a big giant machine brain that controls everything, it is still optimized to give the best possible results to humans. SEO copywriting isn’t about trying to trick the algorithm. Always write for a human reader instead of Google itself.
Think about what it’s important to your audience. Are they coming to you for information? Looking to buy something?
Make a list of potential keywords of how your audience could find you. They might be long-tail keywords (four words or longer) or more precise keywords. Whatever they are, you should know what you want to show up on Google.
Knowing your audience’s intent is going to point you in the right direction for making content. It will help you decide your content type and content format.
What type of content are you going to have? A blog? A landing page? A product page?
Format, on the other hand, generally applies to informational content. Think of lists, reviews, and how-to articles. In fact, a recent survey from SEMRush showed that how-to articles are some of the most frequently used.
Making your content based on what the user wants is a surefire way to answer their questions and provide possible solutions.
2. Take Time to Prepare Your Text
Even the world’s greatest writers start with an outline. Many fiction writers start by writing the ending first and then working their way back to the beginning. That requires plenty of planning, don’t you think?
We’ve already talked about search intent, but it might require you to dive a little deeper into what you’re actually writing.
Here are some questions to think about and answer ahead of time:
- What are you trying to convey with your post?
- What is your audience looking for?
- What will the structure of your article look like?
This doesn’t mean you have to break out the classic outline you used back in high school, but take some time in the planning stage before you jump right into writing.
Target Additional Keywords
Planning out your text gives you the opportunity to also find additional keywords or ancillary keywords, you may want to target.
It’s pretty easy to find out those additional keywords. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to help give you an idea or just use the Google homepage as a start.
There are plenty of SEO tools out there, but many of them are paid. One that offers a bit longer of a free trial is UberSuggest. It will give you additional ideas to help you flesh out your content.
3. Look at What’s Already Out There
If you’re writing a blog post about the best car stereos, plug that into Google and see what is already out there. You can start to make a guideline for yourself and have an idea of what readers are already clicking on. Plus, through your research, you may also find some places to acquire some valuable backlinks.
Here are some of the questions that you need to find out:
- How long are the articles?
- What does their format look like?
- Are they conversational in tone or more professional?
- Are the other articles lists, how-to guides, informational pieces?
- Do they make use of media? Are there lots of videos or images?
It may take some time to go through 8-10 posts, but it’s worth it in the long run.
4. Make it Easy to Read
With many people’s past writing experiences based in the academic world, it’s time to throw (almost) everything you learned out the window. If something is too long, too complicated, or just not interesting, your website visitors will be clicking that back button immediately.
So, how can you make your content easier to read and digest?
- Break up your writing. Use things like quotes, numbered lists, bullet points, and more to make your information more digestible and readable.
- Use media. We’re not just talking about pictures, but videos and GIFs as well. Not only do they break up the text, but they give you a chance to show off your personality a little bit.
- Be more like Ernest Hemingway. Those that have read Hemingway know he loved to use short sentences. Don’t drag on and on, you’re more likely to cause your readers to lose interest.
Finally, it always helps to read your copy out loud to make sure it not only looks right but sounds right.
Speaking of sounding right…
5. Use Simple Text
If you’re coming out and writing everything in technical jargon, you may turn off your readers. Even though you put lots of work into a certain piece, no one is going to be reading each word in grave detail. Readers on the internet are more likely to be skimmers.
If you have complicated text and long words, those skimming may not want to put forth the effort into reading your whole post.
Remember, it’s vital to think like your customer. While you may know all the acronyms, fancy language, and trendy words, your customers may not. Don’t consider it dumbing down, just think of it as making your language more accessible.
6. Use Proper Grammar and Spelling
One of the quickest ways to erode the confidence of your readers is to use poor grammar. While they may not be such grammar-fiends that they’re picking out where you should have put a semicolon instead of a colon, most people can recognize misspelled words or spot missed punctuation.
Many times these errors can be caught while you’re reading text out loud. You may notice you substituted a “their” for a “there” or “roll” for a “role”.
At the very least, make sure you’re running a spell and grammar check after your article. We are big fans of the plugin Grammarly which will suggest spelling and word changes. But remember! Don’t rely on these checkers to do the work for you. Make sure you go over your text with your fine-toothed comb.
7. Write to Solve a Problem
Unless you’re writing news-based articles, people likely aren’t clicking around your content just for fun. That’s why you need to help them solve a problem. You could be answering a question, telling them how to do something, or offering a product for their needs.
Writing copy based on problem-solving is just like any proper commercial you see on TV. They revolve around presenting the problem, explaining why it’s a problem, and then offering their products or services as the solution.
Think of the classic Flex Tape commercial that has spawned thousands of memes across the internet.
- The Problem: You’ve got a hole in your pipe/house/swimming pool and you need to fix it now!
- Why it’s a Problem: If you don’t take care of it, it could lead to thousands of dollars in damage!
- The Solution: Flex Tape can seal up those holes and save you money and a huge headache!
It’s best to put this information in the introduction of your article, that way you can draw readers in instead of having them snore their way out of your website.
8. Use Simple Headlines to Help Your Readers
Compelling, attention-grabbing headlines can make or break your article, even before readers click on it.
A 2017 BuzzSumo study unearthed a lot about what makes a great headline. For starters, headlines with numbers tend to work the best. And not just regular numbers, but odd numbers as well. Instead of doing a Top 10 list, why not do a Top 13?
When it comes to the length of your headline, you should be shooting for anywhere between 12-18 words. Those tend to get the highest number of engagements. Curiosity also plays a huge role in headlines. Make sure you leave something for readers to discover and entice them. Add something that will make them click. Phrases like ‘this is why’ and ‘the reason is’ performed quite well in the survey’s findings.
9. Throw in a Table of Contents
While CTRL+F is a great trick for many, readers aren’t going to be coming to your website ready to do extra searching. So why not hand them a map as soon as they arrive?
Adding a table of contents will let the reader scan through your list of headings to see if the article or blog will satisfy their search. If they don’t find what they’re searching for quickly, then they’ll leave. Even if it’s on your page. Your goal should be to make things as easy as possible for them. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to continue reading.
10. Take a Break
Copywriting can be hard and mentally draining, especially when you’re doing a ton of research and trying to take plenty of things into account. That’s why it’s always good to take a break once in a while. Are the words all starting to look the same? Does everything you write seem to sound awful?
Step away from the document and focus on something else. Let it simmer before coming back and giving it a look-over. A new eye and refreshed mind can make a huge difference.
Whew! As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into writing effective SEO copy. But don’t worry! Just because there’s a lot of things to consider doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
At Atiba, we’re copywriting and SEO experts and have worked on many projects using both SEO and copywriting skills. If you’re looking for someone to help you with your next project or have an expert take a look at what you’ve already written, reach out to Atiba for your project quote today. We look forward to working with you!