July 7th, 2014

Copywriting for Results: The Most Effective SEO Tactics

by Regina DiPerna

“Content is king.” You’ve no doubt heard this expression and let it guide your web development strategy, but the truth is, creating content is really just the tip of the iceberg. And if you’re churning out content that doesn’t adhere to SEO best practices, you might just be wasting your time. Like every other aspect of your business, content development should be part of a strategy. Sage Island has seen many content development trends come and go in our 17-year history, and we know what gets results for today’s web developers.

There are lots of SEO tricks to keep in mind as you develop your copy, which we’ll get to in a moment, but all of it is secondary to the first rule of copywriting: write genuinely good copy. How well optimized your content is won’t matter if it doesn’t engage readers. As you write your copy, consider your business’s unique goals. Are you trying to sell something, be informative, or get people through the doors of you business? Your content should be well written and genuinely interesting to the audience you want. Not only will you be helping your potential customer find the information they’re looking for, but you’re also building brand trust with that customer and increasing the likelihood that they will share your content on social media. Be smart. Be savvy. Be funny. And if you aren’t any of those things, hire a copywriter who is.

Chances are, you want your site’s content to reach the most relevant audience in order to increase qualified traffic. So before you sit down to write content, your company will need to perform keyword research to figure out how your customers are searching and what your competition is up to. When it comes to your business, you don’t want to blindly guess what your audience responds to. Good keyword research gives you insight into the mind of your potential customer; it allows you to see what kind of language customers are using to ask questions, thus giving you the opportunity to provide easy-to-find solutions.

So, what should you do with keyword research once you have it? Use it wisely. Knowing top-ranking keywords doesn’t give you permission to write like a robot. Include top keywords in your content’s title, but make sure the title is relevant to your content and sounds natural. Keep your title under 55 characters (or 512 pixels) to appear correctly in search engine results. You should also sprinkle keywords throughout your body copy, making sure that your content is still well written and doesn’t sound spammy. Avoid keyword cramming—if your keyword usage is too dense, it can actually count against you on search results (not to mention alienate your readers). Bear in mind that Google’s Hummingbird update places renewed importance on long-tail keywords (ex: “size 6 princess cut diamond engagement ring” instead of just “engagement rings”). Long-tail keywords have a much higher conversion rate than short-tail ones, so keep this in mind as you are developing goals and crafting copy.

Once you have your copy drafted, you’ll want to add internal linking. Internal links are connections between other pages of your website. When copywriting, include a few hyperlinks to a relevant blog post or page of your site. For best results, link to other internal pages that you want to increase traffic for. It also helps to include keywords within your anchor text (the text that comprises the hyperlink). Simply using phrases like, “click here” as your anchor text isn’t as beneficial as including phrases containing keywords. Don’t include too many internal links, as it can count against your SEO authority, and make sure to vary your anchor text to let search engines know you’re a real person and not a spam-bot.

You can give your site additional SEO power by adding keyword-optimized headings to your content. It can help visually organize your pages and is one of the easiest ways to increase keyword prominence. SEO best practices are very cut and dry on proper on-page structure: your H1 tag should appear first on your page, followed by H2s and H3s. Put your keywords first in your heading tags, and keep it relevant to the copy that follows.

Last, but certainly not least, proofread! If users spot mistakes, whether it’s grammatical, punctuation or just visuals, it can decrease the trust they have in your brand. It helps to have a fresh set of eyes on your copy to make sure it is polished and matches the tone of your business.

Remember: write for your readers, but optimize for search engines!