SEO copywriting – taking it to the next level

Sharon Tanton

Teacher_DorisDayWe’ve given you the basics, now here’s an expert view on copywriting for search engines.  Louise Nelhams of Advanced Writing Solutions is a Twitter friend,  a lovely contact we’ve made in cyber space who really knows her SEO stuff.  Here are some advanced tips from Louise on writing valuable content that clients and search engines rate.

Valuable Content Meets SEO

A copywriter’s job is to create valuable, persuasive and engaging copy that will generate leads and hopefully convert to sales. However, with the Internet expanding at an alarming rate, and more and more businesses all fighting to be found in the search engines, it’s now absolutely vital to create your content with a view to SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.

Learning SEO in-depth, in order to be able to implement every element within your copy, takes a lot of time and a lot of dedication. However, there are plenty of things that the average copywriter can do in order to make a website more accessible and give it a greater chance of being found by your target audience – and unless your client operates within a niche industry, this useful marketing tool can help you to rise above the competition and corner a good portion of your market.

Keyword research

The first and most important element of SEO is keyword research – while there are plenty of highly complex ways to identify the best keywords to use, the Google Adwords tool is a good enough starting point for the inexperienced. Look at search volumes and competition levels – however appropriate you may think a keyword or phrase is, if nobody is using it as a search term, then it’s simply not worth including. During your keyword research, it’s also a good idea to undertake some competitor analysis; look for your biggest competitors and take a look at the page source on their web pages. This will allow you to identify the keywords that they’re using in their meta data and help you to optimise your web content more effectively.

Once you work out the best keywords to use, you need to decide which pages to use them on. If you’ve got a fairly expansive collection of potential keywords, try and target one or two on each page. While you can use the same keyword across multiple pages, this duplication will ultimately lead to you being competition with yourself – although having several pages ranking on the same SERPs (search engine result pages) obviously can’t do any harm.

The clever crafting of keywords

Now that you’ve decided on the keywords you want to use on each of the website pages, you need to think about how you’re going to incorporate them into the copy for the best effects. Usual practice for a copywriter is to keep the content as succinct as possible – we tend to want to avoid wasted words. However, since the Google Panda update, it’s generally believed that every page needs a minimum of 400 words in order to be indexed properly by the search crawlers. This means lots of research and a good relationship with your client; you need to make sure that every page is original and offers something different to the other pages on the website.

H tags are an SEO copywriter’s best friend – ensure that you use your keywords in the main heading and subheadings where possible, because the search crawlers give a higher point ranking to keywords placed in these positions. It’s also important to create a good internal linking structure across the website – use your keywords as anchor text to lead the crawlers to other pages on the site, making sure that your anchor text is relevant to the page you’re linking to. This helps the search crawlers to navigate around the site with ease, which in turn helps them to index the overall site more effectively. It’s also worth bearing in mind that words in bold or italics are also given a higher precedence when a page is being indexed.

The SEO balancing act

Of course, the real trick is getting a good balance between readability and utilising as many SEO strategies as possible. Clunky copy that has been saturated with a high concentration of keywords will not only drive your visitors away, but could also see you being penalised by the search engines. If the keyword adds something to the text, leave it in; if it sounds forced or silly, take it out!

Many freelance copywriters find that they optimise web content to some degree without even realising it; knowing your client, understanding their service and using a little bit of common sense will often lead to appropriate keywords being used almost accidentally. However, it’s certainly worth bearing the above rules in mind if you want to focus your content and get the very best results.

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Find out more on Louise’s website – Advanced Writing Solutions

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