A lot goes into making an article or page rank on Google. The type of copywriting used is an important part of it.
The below best practices will help you create good SEO web copywriting.
SEO copywriting definition
SEO copywriting is copywriting designed to optimise an article or webpage’s chances of ranking.
It has many overlaps with copywriting for marketing more generally, including the essential need to write well.
The difference between copywriting and SEO copywriting is that copywriting is for readers whereas SEO copywriting is for readers and search engines. It must adhere to SEO best practices, such as keyword use and frequency, descriptive anchor text, and good heading use.
Furthermore, SEO copywriting competes with other content on the same subject, notifications, and users with the attention spans of a toddlers…
(I’m not knocking it, I’m one of those users too!)
5 SEO copywriting best practices you can implement today
The below best practices will help you write good SEO web copywriting.
Take note: before you even begin writing, you should have already covered the basics of SEO (keyword research, backlink outreach, etc.). Unfortunately, articles and pages will rarely rank based only on how well they are written.
There are exceptions to all rules, but following these will ensure your SEO copywriting technique is optimised.
1. Get to the point
The structure of your article or page should be clear and concise. Placing the main information near the top of the content is crucial.
Users have short attention spans online, especially if they are viewing on mobile. Many of them will be skim reading.
Long introductions, analogies, rambling asides, repetition and general fluff are all obstacles that can cause readers to bounce.
All information should be as accessible as possible.
A few simple techniques can help you do this:
- Bullet points
- Bold, italic and underlined
- Short sentences and paragraphs (see below, point 3)
These words from a great writer should help reenforce and make this point memorable:
2. The importance of wordcount
A general rule you should aim to write as much as the topic requires.
How do you know how much the topic requires?
Firstly, by knowing it well.
For example, imagine you are a mechanic and you want to write about the lifespan of tyres. When you reread back your first draft, you will know whether you covered everything or not.
Secondly, you should search your target keyword (‘lifespan of tyres’) and do a wordcount of the top 5 ranking articles.
(To do this, simply copy and paste the content of these pages into Microsoft Word, click ‘Review’ in the top menu, and then click on the wordcount symbol).
Take an average of the these wordcounts and you have your target wordcount.
One exception is if you notice something missing from these articles. Perhaps they are out-of-date or you simply know more about the topic than these authors. In this case, write as much as you feel needs to be written to cover everything.
The required length of content is explained succinctly by SEO expert Koray Tugberk: “Content should be short as possible and long as necessary.”
3. Use short sentences and short paragraphs
Long sentences aren’t easy to read online, where screen limitations and scrolling are important factors to consider.
Short sentences are easier to read than long ones. The same applies to paragraphs. Both make pages/articles easier to skim read.
You can also use short paragraphs to keep readers reading, and even use bucket brigades in articles…
Bucket brigades are bridge phrases that link sections of articles. They are designed to quickly and effectively grab the reader’s attention and usher them along.
They come in many forms and generally speaking they are conversational in tone.
Short, concise sentences and paragraphs will keep your content’s format tidy. They make content easier to skim read and harder for the user to lose their place in.
4. Limit your opinion
This point overlaps with point 1.
It doesn’t apply to all content, especially non-SEO focused content.
However, when you want to rank for a specific keyword, limiting your opinion is often important.
After all, the reader has probably clicked on your answer to their search because of where it’s ranked, not because of who it is written by.
Put simply: they just want to the information they searched for.
If you are writing about a subject that has multiple schools of thought, it’s better to simply present those different views neutrally.
Save your opinions for op-eds, guest lectures and academy award acceptance speeches.
5. Anchor text
Anchor text is the highlighted text that holds (‘anchors’) links.
It needs to be clear and relevant to the link it contains. So, no more inserting links in text that says ‘click here’…
Anchor text should describe well what the link within it is. For example, if I link to my article about keyword research… well, you can see how I’ve done it.
You also need to think about the what anchor text you use for internal links. (links to other pages on your site). This is especially important once you begin creating content silos.
In short, you shouldn’t use the exact same anchor text to link to an internal page every time. SEO legend Matt Diggity breaks this topic down in more detail on his blog.
You should also limit how much anchor text you use. Referencing relevant sources is important. However, saturating your article with unnecessary links will make it look untidy.
Despite a large overlap, SEO copywriting is different to regular copywriting in several ways.
The SEO copywriter usually needs to answer a specific search enquiry for both users and Google.
Quickly and efficiently providing the information searched is the key to retaining readers. Short, concise sentences and paragraphs and simple article structure that answers the enquiry early on will aid this. Article length and anchor text are also essential components.
And, of course, writing well is a must.