SEO Copywriting: Essential Tips for Creating Readable Content and Optimising for Search Engines

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Essential SEO Copywriting Tips
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Writing content that’s appealing to readers and optimised to perform well in rankings is a challenge for most copywriters. Do you put your target audience or Google first?

With so much conflicting advice out there, it can seem near impossible to write content that’s both engaging to people and optimised properly for search engines. For instance, we all know keywords are an essential part of any piece of content but how do you know how many are too many? 

Today we’re taking a look at what’s different about SEO copywriting and how you can implement a few different strategies to ensure your content is not only highly engaging and relevant to readers but also ranking well on SERPs.

Google search results for cookies recipe

What Is SEO Copywriting?

Before we dive into what SEO copywriting is and what you can do to improve your strategy, it’s critical to realise that readers always come first. Whatever SEO tactic you implement, it’s worthless if the content doesn’t sound natural or seem relevant to visitors. 

SEO copywriting is about appealing to a user, solving a problem whilst neatly packaging content into something that leverages Google algorithms to its advantage. 

Top Tips for SEO Copywriting 

SEO copywriting is a delicate balance of engaging your reader with highly relevant content while performing on-page and off-page SEO techniques. To achieve a high ranking page, you can’t have one without the other. 

1. Start With Thorough Keyword Research

A list of keyword ideas for home insurance

Before you begin writing, perform comprehensive keyword research. Once you have a chosen topic in mind, you need to figure out which keywords users are tapping into Google to find relevant content. 

If your site compares home insurance, for example, you’ll want to identify not only the most obvious keywords like ‘home insurance companies’ or ‘home insurance costs’ but also the rarer and less competitive long-tail phrases. These may include ‘compare affordable home insurance’ or ‘find home insurance offers’. 

With lower search traffic but higher conversions, including long-tail keyphrases is critical for targeting the right audience for your industry niche. 

Once you have a list of relevant keywords, weave them through your content naturally. Don’t be tempted by keyword stuffing as a quick way of increasing your content’s keyword density. Not only will readers notice how unnatural your copy sounds but Google may issue you with a penalty if you go overboard. 

Optimising SEO copy for keywords is essential for ensuring your content is visible on SERPS and is relevant for your target audience. 

2. Consider Search Intent

Think about what your target audience wants to read about. Are your readers in buying or learning mode? Are they trying to find out more about your specific product or are they looking to uncover more general information about your industry niche? 

Once you have an understanding of users’ search intent, it’s time to think about what type of content will make that information most accessible and relevant to page visitors.

If you sell cars, perhaps your audience wants to read a listicle of the top cars coming to market in 2020. Or they may prefer a guide for choosing the right kind of car for themselves. Other relevant forms of content may include reviews and opinion pieces.

Google search results for top cars in 2020

Relevant content is all about being useful to your target audience and providing them with the information they require at the right time. 

Considering your target audience’s search intent will help you craft content that users want and need to read. 

3. Analyse Competing Content

To rank well on Google, the search engine needs to see that not only is your content relevant but that it’s also really useful to readers. 

First up you need to cover all the topics users expect to see when they click on your site. You can do this by reading all of the competing high ranking content on your chosen topic. 

There will likely be several sub-topics covered by each of the high-ranking pieces of content. 

As well as covering all the topics that high ranking pages already include, you also need to fill in any content gaps to make your content stand out from the rest. 

4. Make Life Easy for Your Reader

If you’re providing useful and relevant content, visitors will come to your site to find out specific information.           

Readers are generally looking for information that will help them solve a problem.

Visitors are giving your site their time in exchange for finding out information they want to know. 

If your content requires too much effort to read, visitors will give up and move onto a simpler piece that makes life easy for them. 

To keep readers engaged with your content and improve your dwell time, design your content so that it’s easy to digest. 

You can do this by: 

  • Keeping sentences and paragraphs short. Beware of using too many transition words like ‘and’, ‘because’ or ‘also’. Often, you can break up these sentences into two shorter ones. 
  • Adding multimedia like images, videos and GIFs. Not only does multimedia add colour and break up the text but it also helps demonstrate points without words. 
  • Reading content aloud to yourself and imagining yourself as the target audience. Does the language make sense and flow? 

5. Use the ‘Inverted Pyramid’ Method

Some marketers believe that leaving the most important information until last drives engagement and increases dwell time. 

This is incorrect. 

It’s much better to give users the answer to their question right away at the beginning. 

These days, people don’t have time to ready wordy bits of text. They want to skim read and find the answer to their question right away. 

If they do have time to read more context and details, they will stay on your page and continue to read.

This method is known as the ‘inverted pyramid’. 

It means giving readers the answer to their question straight away in the first paragraph. Once the key point is covered, you should then include more details and answer related questions. 

Serving up information to users directly without them having to look for it will prevent them from bouncing back SERPs to find what they’re looking for. 

A low bounce rate will help you perform well in rankings since Google rewards content that users engage with. 

6. Write a Powerful Headline

Headlines are a super important and often overlooked part of SEO copywriting. Target a keyword and make your content appear invaluable to your audience. 

People want solutions to problems and for them to click on your web page they need to feel that your content is unmissable. 

Irresistible headlines are key to making your audience feel that they have to click on your web page. 

You need to make your audience feel that they will regret it if they don’t click on your page and miss out on irreplaceable information. 

Incorporating your target keyword at the beginning of the title will also help your content perform well in rankings. 

7. Make Content More User-Friendly with Content Menus

Readers want to know quickly whether your content will answer their questions. If it does they’ll remain engaged with your site, if it doesn’t they’ll quickly move onto another site. 

A screenshot of Grow Hack Scale content menu

Providing a content menu allows readers to quickly skim through your content and check if it’s relevant to what they’re looking for. If your post is on the longer side, visitors can then quickly navigate to the section most relevant to them. 

Ensure your content titles grab the reader’s attention and encourage them to read about the chosen subject. 

Once the visitor has easily found what they were looking for, there’s a chance they’ll get hooked into your copy and want to read the rest of it. 

Content menus can often give your page an SEO boost too since they create anchors which Google shows in the SERPs. 

8. Create Linking Opportunities 

Backlinks are one of Google’s key ranking factors. This explains why the majority of high ranking pages have a high number of top-quality backlinks. 

There’s a clear connection between backlinks and high levels of organic traffic. So when you create content, you need to think about which pieces of it other sites may link to. 

Ultra relevant and unique content is the way to go when it comes to obtaining high-quality backlinks. 

Including studies, surveys and statistics can be a great way to increase the number of backlinks to your site. 

If you actively think of linking opportunities when creating content, you’ll receive a higher number of backlinks from other sites. 

9. Hook Readers with the Problem-Agitate-Solve Formula

The majority of readers decide if they want to carry on engaging with a piece of content based on the first few lines of an introduction. To say you need to write an awesome intro is an understatement. 

A solid introduction will hook your readers and keep them engaged until the end of your content, whereas a mediocre one will send them right back to the SERPs to a competing site. 

Use the classic copywriting strategy, PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solve) to pique your reader’s attention. 

  • Problem: First identify a problem your target audience may be having. 
  • Agitate: Next, explore this problem and agitate their frustration with the issue. 
  • Solve: Finally suggest a solution, which you’ll then dig deeper into throughout the post.

10. Optimise Your Copy

You could write the most relevant and useful copy that readers love, but if it isn’t optimised and formatted correctly, it simply won’t perform well in rankings. 

  • Write accurate title tags. The title tag is the first thing that users see when clicking on a search results page. It needs to concisely and accurately describe your web page in 50-60 characters so that users feel compelled to click on your page and not competitors. 
  • Incorporate bulleted/numbered lists. Not only do lists make content more digestible for users but they also give your page the chance of appearing in a featured snippet. 
  • Use heading tags. You can implement heading tags from H1-H6. Heading tags make the font larger and stand out for readers. Optimise heading tags by incorporating keywords when relevant. 
  • Think about whitespace. Nobody likes to be faced with a huge chunk of text. People want information quickly and without too much effort. Keep your paragraphs to 2-3 lines and ensure there’s enough whitespace to balance out blocks of text. 

11. End with a Powerful CTA

Always end your content with an impacting CTA that drives readers to take action. The key here is to make your CTA appropriate for the buyer persona and the stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey. 

If your target readers are just at the awareness stage, you are just beginning to attract them to your industry. Your content will likely be informative and increase their general knowledge of your industry niche. 

The closing CTA needs to match this. As opposed to pushing them to purchase your product or service, you may instead direct them to learn more specific details about what your business offers consumers.

If however readers are further down the marketing funnel and are at the conversion stage, your CTA should be stronger and give the reader a final push to purchase whatever your business is selling. 

The Bottom Line on SEO Copywriting

Getting SEO copywriting correct is essential for crafting relevant content that not only appeals to readers but also leverages Google algorithms to its advantage. 

While it’s easy to get caught up in implementing SEO techniques, always remember that ranking well means captivating and engaging your target audience first. Never jeopardise your reader’s interest and engagement for the sake of including more SEO strategies

Compelling, persuasive copy combined with relevant SEO strategies will give your content the boost it needs to rank well.

About
Holly Stanley
Holly's love for travel and Latin America led her to working in luxury travel, creating content for an award-winning agency. When not working she's usually found in one of the city’s buzziest bars and restaurants or out in the countryside riding and playing polo.