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SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and content to increase both the quality and quantity of traffic to your site through organic search results. Today it’s no longer enough to stuff keywords into your site’s content to achieve high search engine rankings. Instead, high-quality, often long-form content has become the key to dominating the SERPs and winning over potential customers.
SEO copywriting is therefore a hybrid of SEO and copywriting. SEO copywriting is about creating compelling, informative, and valuable content that also targets specific keywords that will appease both search engines and people consuming the content.
Elements of SEO Copywriting
SEO Copywriting has three main pillars that must be utilized to create compelling content that drives quality traffic to your site.
- Audience and keyword research — SEO copywriting includes classic SEO tactics that start in the research phase; these include defining your target audience and understanding user intent, finding keywords and phrases with enough traffic that match the intent of your dedicated audience, and optimizing your site’s content around a defined keyword strategy.
- Body copy creation — This is the actual creation of high-quality content aimed at your target audience that is well written, easy to read, grammatically correct, and full of relevant information.
- On-page optimization — The final piece of SEO copywriting is making sure your content is optimized. This means strategically placing keywords within the site’s content, employing good internal linking practices, and providing all necessary information so the content is understandable for the search engines and can be properly indexed.
Let’s take a deeper dive into each element of SEO copywriting.
Audience and Keyword Research
Conducting keyword research and selecting keywords to target are the first steps in on-page optimization. Targeting keywords that are not in line with the themes of your pages, or targeting keywords that have little search demand, can result in poor natural search traffic. It’s important to first understand the types of keywords that exist; this can help inform you of what keywords are in line with the type of content you want to create.
Types of Keywords
- Informational: Queries where people are looking to gain knowledge. They often use words like ‘how to’, ‘why’, and other question words.
- Navigational: Queries where people are looking for a specific website.
- Transactional: Queries where people are looking to take a specific action using the web; these involve keywords like ‘buy’, ‘shipping’, or ‘online’ or specific product names or model. These types of searches are further along in the purchasing funnel; this category of terms indicates greater intent to convert.
- Short-Tail keywords: Broader keyword phrases that are shorter in length.
- Long-Tail keywords: Essentially, long-tail keywords are keyword phrases made up of 3-5 words. They tend to have less traffic because they’re less popular and more targeted than better-known shorter terms. However, the users from these keyword phrases can be more qualified.
Google’s Keyword Planner is a good place to start for gauging the relative popularity of keywords.
We can also look within the search results themselves to find other relevant topics and keywords.
Additional Keyword Research sources:
- Historical Paid Search Data
- Internal Search Data
- Current Site Content
- Competitor Websites
- Google Trends
Remember to be sure to look for secondary keywords and synonyms, as they can help your content rank for additional keywords related to your topic.
Body Copy Creation
Body copy is the actual content that tells search engines whether the page should be deemed as high or low quality.
While keyword-stuffing is now a shamed tactic, content should still be on-topic, in-depth, and mention the keywords early on (the opening paragraph, specifically) to show both users and search engines that the content is relevant to the query.
When creating body copy, remember to:
- Have at least 300 words of static html text.
- Maintain a keyword frequency/density between 3% and 7%.
- Have unique and well-written content.
- Write naturally. Always remember that you are writing for people first, not search engines.
- Use paragraphs, headings and bullets. Paragraphs break up text into more digestible pieces. That lets readers follow along easier and helps structure your text. Like paragraphs, headings help divide the text into smaller parts. They also allow readers to scan your posts first and gain an overview before deciding whether to read on.
- Vary sentence length. To improve the rhythm of your text, it’s a good idea to mix longer sentences with shorter ones.
Titles are the most important on-page ranking factor. This is the title we have given our page and the first content piece Google considers when indexing a site.
When creating title tags, remember:
- Important target keywords should go in the front of the title.
- Always end with the brand name and country.
- Be consistent in using | (bars), commas, or dashes to separate words.
- Avoid stop words such as ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘is’, ‘then’, etc.
- Keep titles unique between pages.
- Maximum length = under 60 characters including spaces.
A short description that tells users in the SERP whether a page is relevant to them or not. While not a ranking factor, well-written meta descriptions can lead to better CTR (which can improve rankings).
When writing meta descriptions, remember to:
- Think of a meta description as an ad for your page. Try to draw visitors to the page through compelling copy. Highlight reasons to visit the page such as “learn about…”, “discover how…”, etc.
- Leverage your brand credibility by mentioning awards or accolades.
- Include target keywords in the description.
- Avoid duplicate meta descriptions between pages.
- Avoid using non-alpha/numeric characters such as quotes.
- Keep it at the maximum length = under 160 characters including spaces.
Body content should include relevant links to other sections of the site to improve SEO. Not only does this help to show relationships between pages through connecting them, but it improves user experience while allowing you to control the user’s journey throughout your site.
When linking throughout content, remember that:
- While not as powerful as external links, internal links are a chance to inform search engines how pages should be associated with queries.
- When bots crawl links on pages, they read the anchor text to get context on what this page means. This is considered as a ranking factor.
- Internal links also increase the likelihood that someone will stay on your site and navigate throughout.
- Link to relevant content early in the body copy. (Link to relevant pages approximately every 120 words of content.)
Images can make your pages and posts more appealing and easier to read. Search engines crawl both the content of your site and the images; without optimizing them, you’re wasting valuable SEO. Most important of all is how you describe your image in the Alt section (can be known as Alt-tags or Alt-text). Google can’t ‘see’ your images, but it can ‘read’ them and what it reads is what you write in the alt-attribute.
When naming images, remember:
- Image search is an opportunity to gain exposure and visibility.
- Keywords or variations should be used in naming image. E.q. <img src=“3qdigital.jpg” alt=“3Q Digital”>
- Every image should have a keyword-friendly name.
The H1 is the on-page title that describes what the page is “about.” Along with the title tag, the H1 is one of the most important ranking factors for SEO.
There should only be one H1 tag per page; it should be used in the main header that introduces, or highlights, the topic and opening paragraph of the page.
If you have any questions, we’re always happy to help; just drop a comment. Happy copywriting!
Ready to learn more? Check out our Guide to SEO in 2018, or contact the 3Q SEO team to find out how we can enhance your search strategy.