How To Get Found Online With SEO, Keywords and Website Copywriting

Ever wonder just how prospects are finding your business online? With the right keywords and well-written copy on your website, you can know for certain and track the results.

While best-practice copywriting techniques have been developed by search engine optimization (SEO) experts based on established metrics, it’s still an inexact science. The core aspect of great copywriting is creating content that people love to read and share (more on that below). Further, even following every piece of copywriting advice doesn’t guarantee a high page ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs), especially for highly competitive topics. High-quality, keyword-rich copywriting guarantees that you maximize your chance to be successful when your content is evaluated by search engine algorithms and the searchers who rely on them.

Above all, SEO is about writing great content

There may come a day in search when great content is all that matters. With each search engine algorithm update, we get closer and closer to this valuation of content. Whether it every reaches that goal, or just forever approaches it, is a matter of debate. But what appears certain is that investing in great content is solid investment. Searchers love great content, so search engines will continue to love great content, too.

This comes into play when you start looking into how to blend SEO techniques into your content. Our best advice is to start with inspiring copywriting, and then look to optimize that piece for SEO, whether that includes adding a few natural keywords or extra subheads. This approach is not only faster, but it also guarantees that great copywriting remains at the core of your piece—SEO serves your content, not the other way around.

You don’t have to take our word for it. Google has systemically penalized sites with thin content during its regular update process, especially the ongoing Panda updates. If your content goals are to rise just above the level considered spam, you’re likely to fall victim to the next round of algorithm updates.

Draw Prospects in with an Enticing Headline

Your article, no matter the topic, needs a compelling headline. In writing Web copy, the goal of every line is to get your visitor to read the next line. The headline is the starting point for that journey. Few visitors will keep reading (or even click on your link) if your headline doesn’t catch their eye. Some “headline formulas” offer strategies to gain that interest. These range from designing headlines that answer the who-what-why aspects of your article, to headlines that pose an intriguing question, like “Are you losing the SEO battle to competitors because of your copywriting?

No matter that route you choose, keep it honest. Don’t promise answers in your headline that your content doesn’t deliver. Getting visitors to your site is the first step, but it’s not the only step in growing your brand and building your customer base. And if your content doesn’t match the expectations of your visitors, you’ll never get them beyond the first click.

Keep People Reading with by Including Personality

Content quality is critical. But so is the way you deliver that life-changing content. Even if your visitors love what you have to say, if they get the impression they’re reading an academic paper or hearing it from the mouthpiece of a faceless corporation, it will limit the impact of that content. They may remember the content, but they won’t remember you.

As a Web copywriter, let them into your world. Include a personal anecdote. Keep a casual tone. The emotional connection you build with your readers has a value that can’t be measured in SEO terms. I take that back: It can. Google and other search engines now appreciate social media retweets and links to your content. That means if people love it enough to post it on their Facebook wall or send it out to their followers, you will derive real, tangible SEO benefits.

The valuation of social media in search engine algorithms—with each repost essentially counting as a “vote” for your content—is one of the newer and increasingly powerful aspects of modern search engines. It’s one of the many ways that the emphasis has shifted away from more keyword-driven SEO toward a deeper understanding of relevant content. Adding social media links to your blogs or encouraging readers to share them can be a valuable line of prose to include in every piece. (You can also just add social media icons to your pages if you prefer a more discreet option.)

Design a Copy Layout for Web Readers Who Skim

Before you become too attached to your words, remember that online readers skim content, even great content. As William Faulkner noted, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings,” a caution toward sentimentalizing your words. To maximize the value of your page, you’ll need to design it in a way that allows skimmers to gather the core points of your article quickly. This means lots of subheads, bulleted lists, and image- and graphic-rich pages to let readers get the gist of your article without stopping to read every word. Bold text and italics are other practical options.

Make sure you include alt text for images and graphics, as this will boost your SEO as well, and help your content rank in image searches. This can give readers another avenue to find your content. If they’re looking for an infographic, they just might stumble upon yours and suddenly find themselves reading the text around your image.

Don't Forget About Keyword Phrases

Keywords, while perhaps not as powerful as they once were, are still incredibly relevant to the SEO of your copywriting. Before you get started writing your next piece, spend time performing keyword research through a free Google AdWords account. You’ll learn about which words will be the most powerful to include organically in your content to make sure that searchers can find your page. Searchers still type words into Google, and the only way they’ll find your content is if it includes those words.

While many suggest that using the main keyword two to five times per article is ideal, keyword density now plays little to no role in SEO. In fact, your biggest risk is “over-optimization,” which can result in penalties from search engines. It’s one more argument to keep your prose natural and organic. The one place keywords still matter in your headings and headline. This makes sense: An article that mentions motorcycles once in the body of the text may not be at all about motorcycles, but one that mentions them in the headline and two out of three subheads almost certainly is. It’s not a black hat SEO technique; it’s common sense.

If you can go beyond simply “motorcycles” and find long-tail keywords, like “classic American motorcycle races,” you’ll be even more richly rewarded. Even if your site is fully optimized for “motorcycles,” you can imagine how challenging it will be to rank highly for the single, popular term. Let keyword research guide you to the long-tail keywords that are less competitive and more directly relevant to your business.

A final but significant keyword technique: Whether you’re linking to other internal pages of your site or external pages related to your content, hyperlink the text of relevant keywords. When done correctly, this draws more value to your keyword phrases and helps your readers find additional, authoritative content on a topic. Like other keyword strategies, avoid overusing it or creating misleading anchor text for your visitors.

Concluding Thoughts

At the end of every post you create, include a call to action. Most inbound marketing pieces are more subtle than they once were, focusing on providing information to the visitor and then, at the bottom, noting that a visitor can “learn more” about a subject by downloading a white paper or contacting the company. These calls to action are how you connect your content generation with lead generation. After all, unless you’re a news outlet, your online content is a means to an end.

Once you’ve finished your piece, also make sure you add a compelling meta description. Your meta description doesn’t factor directly into your SEO, but it does help readers choose your article over others in the SERPs. It should be 160 characters and make effective pitch about why your content has the answers they need. Meta descriptions appear below your blue linked title in the SERPs.

Lastly, remember that optimization is an ongoing process. Keep A/B testing your best content ideas and strategies, from article length to page layout. Find what works best for your customers and your industry. Read what others have written and see what new ideas or tried-and-true methods you can adopt for your writing. And if writing is your primary activity for your company, get in touch with other writers. Become part of the community.

Optimized content is far more than keywords. It’s blending the needs of automated search engines with the personal, emotional ones of your customers. Write toward that goal.

About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, Houzz profiles, and content marketing and advertising solutions for architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one tactics attract the right clients with exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition. Contact me for a free-of-charge consultation and marketing review. It takes about 40 minutes and you'll be provided a list of actionable improvements designed to solve your specific marketing problems. 

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