4 SEO copywriting tips for cleaner, more effective copy

I can’t remember the last time a website I worked on was delayed for technical reasons.

It is never the coding that causes delays.

It’s always the copy.

Everyone thinks they can write copy until they show up with a blank page.

The people in your organization may be subject matter experts, but that doesn’t mean they can meet a writing deadline.

Writing is difficult.

Writing SEO-friendly copy can be daunting.

But even novice SEO writers can make a huge difference by doing a few simple things.

1. Target 2-3 keywords or keyword phrases

Many new SEO writers make the mistake of targeting too many keywords or keyword phrases on a page.

In my experience, if you try to target more than two or three keyword phrases on a single page, your copy will seem scattered.

Targeted copy is usually the best sales copy.

And even in long-form articles, targeting too many keywords — especially unrelated keywords — results in copy that doesn’t hook the reader.

Copy that is not targeted does not move the reader to the desired action – in other words, conversion.

I recently participated in a conversation on Twitter where participants lambasted a speaker for saying that a blog post should be 2,500 words.

The speaker may be right.

The speaker can be wrong.

There is no number of “magic words” a message should be.

Your content should be as long as it takes to adequately answer your site visitors’ questions.

If you can answer the question in 50 words, you may only need 50 words on this page.

As long as site visitors and search engine crawlers can determine the context of the page, you should be golden.

No need to count your words.

Your visitors don’t care how long your blog post is.

And contrary to some speaker opinions, Google doesn’t care how long your message is either.

Writing text that’s too “big for your pants” tends to be blurry.

The long version is ideal for customers looking for information or at the top of the purchase funnel.

But visitors who are ready to buy or become a lead have most likely done their homework.

Rehashing information they already know is more likely to cause them to lose focus, leave, and not become a sale or lead.

But even the most grizzled writing professionals benefit from targeting a few keywords in their writing.

The writing tends to become sharper and more focused.

And he tends to convert better.

2. Split your copy

Large word walls can be intimidating on a web page.

When a visitor encounters a page that is nothing but pixels and copy pixels, it can be off-putting enough to procrastinate, thus causing the visitor to leave the page.

Use graphic elements such as bulleted lists or numbers, quotation marks, many images, etc.

Webmasters can turn intimidating word walls into engaging web pages that actually convert visitors into buyers.

I saw a page go from not converting anyone into anything to selling machines just by making simple adjustments to the page formatting.

One thing that baffles me is the reluctance of B2B marketers to put images of a living, breathing human being on their page.

We know that images of smiling, happy people generally increase conversion rates on B2C pages, but we forget that B2B customers are just B2B consumers at work.

But do I know that an image of a real customer smiling and happy will increase the conversion rate of your blog post?

No I do not have.

In fact, I would like to test several combinations of graphic adjustments on a word wall to see what works.

The other day, fellow agency owners and I were talking about our agency’s unique selling points.

My friend said he thinks his agency may have done more A/B testing than any other agency currently in business today.

In my opinion, this is an incredible selling proposition.

He certainly knows that images of smiling, happy people aren’t just for consumer products anymore.

3. Keep your keywords on a post-it

Everyone knows that when you’re watching your weight, one of the most beneficial things you can do is track your calorie intake.

When writing SEO-focused copy, it’s important to keep track of the words you write.

Specifically, it’s important to understand how often you use your keyphrase throughout your copy.

Just like the total word count, there is no absolute limit to the number of times you can use a keyword in a specific piece of text.

Novice SEO writers tend to stuff the copy with keywords, so it reads like a repetitive catalog entry.

This is not the solution.

The copy must make sense to the end consumer.

The copy needs to appeal to search engine crawlers, so they know what the content is about, but the context doesn’t need to be telegraphed.

You don’t need to hit the search engine over the head with signals that a page is about a certain keyword phrase.

Anecdotally, I tell writers to try to include each targeted phrase in a block of copy at least twice.

But there are many times when it makes sense to use a phrase more than twice.

I would caution just using a keyphrase once.

For phrases that aren’t as competitive, with other signals, you can rank a page with just one keyphrase mention, but more often than not it takes more than one mention.

But that brings the post-it.

When creating SEO copy, I write my keywords on a post-it note that I place next to my keyboard.

As I write the copy, I make check marks for each key phrase as I use it.

But I try not to count keyword phrases when I write the first draft.

I just put a checkmark each time I use the phrase.

Once I finish my first draft, I read it over to make sure it makes sense and count my keyword mentions to make sure I’ve got it all figured out.

If everything isn’t included, or I found the copy isn’t flowing around the targeted keywords, I rearrange and start over.

It can be a frustrating process at first, but eventually you’ll get to where you can just make changes to the draft to upload a final version.

4. Read the copy aloud

When in doubt, read your copy aloud.

If you’re still not sure, read it aloud to someone else.

When you read the copy aloud, you’re not necessarily looking for ways to improve it — it should be good by the time it gets to that point.

Reading the copy aloud helps SEO specialists and webmasters understand if the copy is flowing.

When we try to stick a round peg into a square hole, it doesn’t fit.

The same is true when we try to target a keyword on a page where the context does not match the intent of the targeted phrase.

Reading aloud will almost always reveal if a page is overloaded with keywords.

What we find is that you can actually fit a lot more keywords into the copy than you might think – and the feed still works.

Usually, when reading the copy aloud, we find at least one to two other instances where we could logically use a key phrase in the copy.

In conclusion

There are simple steps any writer can take to make their content more SEO friendly.

And these steps don’t require years of training to perfect.

Always test and realize that if search engines understand the context of the copy and users are persuaded to take some sort of desired action, you’re golden.

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About Nereida Nystrom

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