Call me a snob, but SEO Copywriting is an art. If absolutely anyone could successfully add keywords into general ideas and make it work, there would be no such thing as freelance SEO writing because we’d all be too busy tending our wheelbarrows full of money.
No, weaving contextually important keywords and phrases into a naturally flowing and effective page of content is not something that tends to just “happen.” But there are some simple ways you can focus SEO copywriting efforts to make each project more successful.
My simple SEO copywriting tip today: research the potential visitor impact of your keywords to help focus your project.
Two Common Scenarios
In a very general sense, SEO copywriting gigs will usually be one of two types. Either the client gives you a list of potential keywords (or perhaps products) and you build a page for each; or, you receive a subject matter for which you are asked to write something appropriately engaging and you’d provide insight into the keywords to use to bring in the greatest audience.
In both cases, a little research before you start can help you to make your finished product more powerful.
The key is to look very specifically at the search volume and trends of all the targeted keywords. Running your potential keywords through a couple of SEO tools can help you do this quickly and easily.
One of my favorite ways is to take a potential keyword and drop it into SEOBook’s free Keyword Research Tool. This tool will show you the potential search volumes that keywords (and variations) are receiving every month. It is a pretty solid snapshot to give you a look at the surrounding keyphrases, search trends, and patterns associated with your entry. Plus, this specific tool is set up so there are links to data offered by AdWords, Yahoo!, Google Trends and more. Dig deeper with just a click.
What to See In the Data
Let’s say you have a scenario where the client gives you a list of keywords and wants pages built. On the list, is the term “business loan” and you are supposed to build a page that makes “business loan” carry weight on the client’s site.
By popping the term into the Keyword Research Tool, you see business loan as well as a variety of longer phrases associated with this term. Click on the screen capture below and you’ll see part of the display for this search.
Now looking at this image, you might notice that “business loan” is not even showing. That is because it is found further down the page. The results are sorted by estimated daily searches. The exact match had 305 est. daily searches, less than the variations seen here.
Which is precisely the point I want to make.
How to Interpret the Data
First is a reminder to never take these tools as something that is “truth” or gospel or anything more than what they are. Tools offer you insight and suggest strategy by collecting larger data sets than you can get on your own. But remember to take them for what they are, and don’t get lost in analysis paralysis…you have work to do.
That said, there is gold in them thar hills when you read these reports with an eye trained on strategy.
Referring back to the example, I can use this single search to see some of the long tail opportunities, the differences in singular versus plurals, the effect of regional modifiers, and applying other modifiers to the targeted keyword.
This can help me to select secondary or tertiary keywords for a page, or maybe suggest alternatives to the main keyword I was originally looking at. Many times, I have used data like this to explain to the client that a strategy toward a more powerful keyphrase makes sense.
How you use the data you dig up is at this point is based on the project…there are millions of ways to exploit the data found through keyword research. Think of each entry as new starting points, and you can see how limitless it becomes.
When Do You Apply It?
One of the most crucial aspects of keyword research (as it pertains to SEO copywriting) is the timing. Knowing potential search volumes after you have written something is far less effective than knowing this information before you start drafting.
If you are performing research after you have already drafted a page, you are looking for ways to blend targeted keyphrases into existing content. Epic fail for most everybody.
Adding keywords to existing content is hard for me to do, and I have been doing this for almost a decade. It is hard to make keywords that were not in an original page to suddenly be there in a natural manner. Not impossible by any means, but not typically the best way to approach this.
Doing keyword research before you begin drafting gives you the strategic edge needed to bring real value to your SEO copywriting clients. It creates a measurable direction. The client can supply general keywords or suggestions, and you can offer researched data to push their thoughts, budget and efforts toward the best online strategy.
Progress can be measured by setting a baseline: usually, traffic analysis on the incoming keywords before you start. Measure the impact of incoming visits driven by the new keywords after you add your efforts. Simple, but effective job security.
Word of Caution
If doing research on search volume, do not be blinded by the highest number. We’re not in Vegas.
If your client wants to go after “St. Louis Business Loan Provider” and you say, “No, ‘small business loans’ has a MUCH higher estimated daily search volume,” you may be stating the facts, but more times than not, you’d be giving bad advice.
Why? Because a smaller business is going to find “small business loans” almost impenetrable, but a tightly focused regional phrase would be pretty easy to overtake. Use additional research to understand the competitive landscape before you bite off more than you can chew.
This is not to say don’t go after the bigger keywords – just that strategically, for most businesses it makes sense to start smaller and build toward the bigger pay-off.
So my SEO copywriter tip for you today is before you draft word one, to use the estimated search volumes to look at a range of potential keyword variations that can be seamlessly incorporated into your page content. Part of your value as an experienced SEO copywriter is in knowing which phrases might be the easiest ones to take over.
The value of SEO copywriting is quickly apparent to people trying to gain positioning in the SERPs. The real value found through professional SEO copywriting takes years and hopefully a couple wheelbarrows to properly measure.
Web pages that have SEO terms inserted afterwards always remind me of those exercises in English class where you had to use a new vocabulary word in the sentence. OK, it’s there, but no one who didn’t have to grade the exercise would have read more than the first sentence on the page. Thanks for a useful post – I’m tweaking the SEO on my blog, and your suggestions will be very helpful.
Hi Dianne, Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with the tweaks. That keyword research tool I linked (or others like it) can really show you some rich opportunity. Hope it all goes swimmingly. – m