In many ways, SEO copywriting is much like any old kind of copywriting. It is nuanced by more strategy perhaps, but in a lot of ways, you need it to work the same way you need any page to work for you. This creates some constants that will be in play no matter what happens to the algorithm, or what critter is next unleashed from the GoogleZoo.
The following are five things I find will make most any SEO copywriting effort more successful:
- Titles: Titles have SEO value, and really, so much more. Making them lopsided toward a search engine means you miss out on the one thing most people will read…and if you catch their attention, you win. Tickle ’em, kiss ’em, call ’em out on something – but use your title to pull in the reader as much as a search engine, and it will tend to do both for you anyway. Weaker pages might rely more on the power of a well crafted title, so write better pages and allow yourself the creative latitude to engage. Take full advantage of the fact you can have a page title, then an H1 – Google will use either as they see fit, based on the query. Strategy here is feather light and requires balance but this is a balance crucial to your success.
- Synonyms, and related themes: One of the main problems in SEO copywriting gone wrong, is hammering keywords to death. Maybe if you draft it like that, fine – but come back during the editing, and swap out some synonyms, and blend in related ideas. The semantic abilities of search engines to connect meaning, no matter how hamfisted they may be describing what meaning is, is still improving every year. So they don’t need you to repeat one word 30 or 40 times to understand the connection: baby’s all grown up. Spread your vocabulary’s wings and delve a bit deeper than the surface ideas of an idea.
- Bullets and lists: There are two good reasons to use lists/bullets: 1) breaks up the text, making it scan-able (the eyes can breathe for a minute) 2)pulls out details so the reader can skip thru it. Readers love bullets and lists and always will. As a copywriter, proper use of lists and bullets is a skill you develop and definitely improve on over time. You learn how to make them more effective simply in the way you present them and how you determine to use them. The skills for good bullets aren’t hard to learn – consider it simplifying concepts, consistently. Note how the bullets in this list are all going to be about the same length – that is an example of an intentional writing strategy for lists.
- Subheads: Subheadings are a lot like bullets, in the way they give the reader pause. They can be used to dramatic effect or as a great way to shift gears in the way you are writing. Say you want to move from one topic to the next, and a subheading is going to be the easiest, and generally the best way to do it. I tend to use them, knowing a lot of readers want to only look at these and only scan the rest of my babbling. If you have targeted keywords (kind of the point in SEO copywriting), subheads are a great places for variations or synonyms to be used. H2, H3, H4 tags and so on might have slightly more value than body text, and synonyms and variants increase your conceptual reach.
- Fire in the belly: Passion is really hard to fake. But the good thing is a passionate voice is forgiven misspellings, grammatical errors, vernacular and slang use and all kinds of things we’ve been well-trained to not do. A fire in the belly allows you to create messages that make people care: they love you, hate you, support and fight you. But when you take a stand it is hard for a reader to not react from their own guts – maybe guts have some kind of telepathic quality that is fired up by a well written page. Who knows. But engagement does not happen because you padded or even researched keywords and it is not established by your word count. It happens when you connect to a readers needs, and answer. This point should have been first, because all others pale when compared.
So there you go – it doesn’t matter what Google wants to do, these 5 things are still likely to work for you, because they did long before Google was in there calling the shots.
Tips and tricks to stay in the search engines are the very same things that get you in trouble eventually. SEO copywriting is not about the latest and greatest loopholes to exploit, it is about creating content that works today and (hopefully) tomorrow because it is not answering the needs of an always fussy and petulant algorithm; instead, it speaks to higher things in better ways…answering the needs of READERS.
Same old song, I know, but always worth repeating. 😉