SEO Copywriting Best Practices, Tips, Strategies, Techniques

SEO copywriting is the cornerstone of creating a successful website that not only attracts customers to your site but keeps them there, increasing their chances of becoming your customer or client. The following SEO copywriting best practices, tips, techniques and strategies will help you reach your audience and become a better writer.

These days, there is a lot of hullabaloo around search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO doesn’t refer to a single technique, but instead, to a batter of them: keyword creation, creating targeted content, and much more. If that sounds like a daunting uphill battle, never fear: it’s pretty darned simple once you get the hang of it.

We’re going to take a wild guess here: by the end of this article, you want to know how to drive more traffic to your site, get readers hooked on quality content, and eventually convert their interest into a sale or a subscription to your product.

Were we close on our assumption? Excellent–we are here to help you accomplish that dream! First things first:

The good news: it’s possible to achieve that goal.
The “tough-love” news: it’s only possible with great storytelling and an actionable content marketing strategy. As the saying goes, “Nothing worth having comes for free.”

Every business, whether it is a fledgeling start-up or a well-established organisation needs a way to express their message to the public. Like anything, the kind of content that will attract customers is writing that catches and keeps their attention.

Unfortunately, these days writing is more than often produced and uploaded whether it is right or not. Due to the necessary role that it plays in a business’s strategy writing has joined other, more functional jobs as something that needs to be done, rather than is created. The result is a lot of content that is produced hastily and without much thought; as long as it fulfils its function then its good enough.

The thing is, it’s not good enough. this kind of writing goes against the primary purpose that the content is made for in the first place: to attract customers. People will only take notice of your information if it is worth the effort. The best way to ensure this is to make your content enjoyable to read.

This article will help you do precisely that–learn the fundamentals (and even some of the more advanced techniques) of SEO copywriting and content creation. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Keyword Research and Creation

Those of you who are familiar with the real estate industry are probably familiar with its famous “Three L’s”: location, location, location. If SEO copywriting has an analogue to this, it would be “keywords, keywords, keywords.”

Source: Dilbert SEO strip

Allow us to explain: your “keyword” is, in the simplest terms, the words or phrase that your potential customers or readers would type into Google (or Bing, if they have to be different) to find your business.

Let’s say you run a food truck in Melbourne, Victoria–plenty of people do! Hence, a keyword like “food truck in Melbourne” would yield a lot of results on a simple Google search. Search competition means that it’s going to be exceedingly difficult to fight your way to the coveted “first page” of Google results for “food truck in Melbourne.”

Still with us? Good.

Let’s say that your food truck is the only one that offers Mongolian barbecue. Now we’re getting somewhere! You’ll have much better luck being the top google result for a keyword like “Mongolian Barbecue Food Truck in Melbourne.”

What we’ve just illustrated is a fundamental SEO technique known as the long-tail keyword. By adding a more detailed description of your business’s unique specialisation, you are more likely to attract your target customer: somebody hungry for a delicious plate of spicy barbecued beef with a side of kimchi (fermented Korean cabbage, not unlike sauerkraut, just FYI).

Keywords are the lifeblood of SEO copywriting, and by doing the proper research, you can corner the market on several terms that apply to your business. This is the secret sauce most SEO agencies apply to their SEO services. If there was ever a bible written for SEO copywriting best practises this tip will perhaps be the first chapter.

Now, how would you go about implementing these keywords into the creation of unique content on your website? Keep reading, young grasshopper, for you have much to learn!

Using Your Keywords in Your Content

Fitting keywords into your customised content is a little bit like playing the classic video game Tetris: it’s a matter of stacking and matching pieces together in the right order. Otherwise, you end up with a clunky, haphazard mess–next thing you know: GAME OVER!

Use Google Keyword Planner to find questions that you can answer for your audience. Google analytics will usually also be a good place to check what visitors search on your website.

Why Content Marketing is an Essential Tool for Your Website’s Success

We’re going to tell you a quick story:

Imagine that you’ve just walked into a small brick-and-mortar establishment whose sign says “General Store–A Little Bit of Everything!” You’re intrigued–maybe you’ll buy a candle for your mother’s birthday, some screws and nails for a woodworking project, and a bag of licorice (your stomach is rumbling, and you need a little something to calm it down).

You open the door, take a look around, and you notice that the front shelves are all empty. Very strange, you think. You meander through the rest of the store and realise all of the shelves are empty; they have nothing for sale–there’s just a man at a cash register. He asks, “Can I help you with anything?”

As politely as possible you say, “No thank you, I’m just browsing.” Then, you pretend to get a cell phone call (a classic move), nod at the proprietor, turn around and walk out of the Nothing Store, never to return.

The situation we’ve just described is a metaphor for a website without any compelling content or SEO copywriting.

Do you want to be like the deluded owner of the “Nothing Store?” We didn’t think so; however, without compelling content, that’s precisely what you will be: a website operator who expects business even though they’re not offering anything tangible.

With the fast-moving, always-connected world of the internet, writing is becoming a tool rather than a creative endeavour. As a result, there is a significant dichotomy when it comes to the kind of writing that business practices allow to be produced, and what is good writing. What businesses are ending up with is content that merely exists. Such material is so bland or outright bad enough that no-one stops to read it.

When you are reading something on a page, and you find yourself wondering,
“How could something like this be published?”

Writing the Right Kind of Content for Your Customers

Your time and money are two of your most important assets–why waste them on creating subpar content that doesn’t interest your readers?

With properly written content, your readers won’t feel like they’re reading an advertisement– instead, they’ll read your blog posts and articles with the same level of interest they’d give to Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, or any of their favourite content providers.

It’s also important to strike the right tone with your content.

To give a somewhat exaggerated example, if you ran a funeral home, you wouldn’t want your content to be full of lighthearted humour. Instead, you’d aim to produce content like “Ten Ways to Ease the Grief of Losing a Partner.” (Sorry to be depressing…)

Likewise, if you run miniature golf or laser tag facility, you wouldn’t want to write formal, business-like content. You’d strive to produce content with titles along the lines of “8 Awesome Birthday Ideas” or “How to Improve Your Mini-Golf Score with 5 Easy Tricks.” If you are web agency or in the business of growing business, you would write content like “Marketing ideas on a budget” or “How to speed up your website“.

What makes good writing?

One of the most significant problems is the kind of people that produce this content. Anyone can write, put them at a computer and letters will be filling up the screen in no time. Businesses get any old Joe-the-intern in the office to do the job. Unless Joe has a secondary skill as a writer, the work is likely to be pretty basic. The content might even be exciting but riddled with errors and structural problems that make it impossible to publish.

Simply put, the difference is writers who are working, versus workers who are writing.It can work the other way too. Most people can do written work ‘right’; anyone willing to take the time to learn about predicates and subject-verb agreements can produce content that is grammatically correct. However, even though the work is good from a technical level, the ideas and narrative techniques used can be generic or derivative, making the content seem mechanical.

What is rare, and what makes a good writer, is a marriage of these two components. Great writing is created when a person can produce content that is technically sound, as well as exciting and novel. Great content is reflective of your online reputation. Don’t let bad writing ruin what you have worked hard to build over the years.

A Word About Big Data and Business Intelligence

Big Data has become the big buzzword over the last few years, but far too few businesses understand how to apply customer data to improve their bottom-line and to create quality SEO content.

Unless you live in a small town, or you offer a unique product ( even online ecommerce ), the chances are that you’ve got quite a few competitors in your area (to say nothing of the internet).

Because this is likely your situation, it’s crucial to analyse customers’ lifestyles as well as their likes/dislikes to build strategies for your content as well as any services you might offer.

Social media analysis makes this more accessible than ever, through state-of-the-art business intelligence (BI) tools, and other descriptive analytics.

Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be!

SEO copywriting best practices

It might sound exceedingly simple, but one of the best ways to create memorable content for your site is to answer the following questions:

  • What kind of articles attract your attention when you’re browsing the web?
  • What makes your business or website different from others offering similar products? In other words, what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack?
  • What are the most exciting aspects of your business or service?
  • What kinds of things are the majority of your customers interested in?
  • What other alternatives to your product or services exist that have a better copy?

Chances are, you’ve found yourself in a “content spiral” on at least one website in your lifetime–that is, you’ve clicked on several articles that caught your attention and spent waaaaaaay more time than you intended. That’s what you want your site and your content to do for potential customers.

Here are just a few of the methods SEO experts use to get you hooked on their content (let’s use some imaginary celebrity articles to illustrate these strategies). We’ll bet you ten bucks that you’ve clicked on a “click-bait” article similar to these at least once in the last month:

While these are just a few examples, they should put you in the right frame of mind to create memorable, click-able content for your site.

Obviously, the parenthetical examples above are an exaggeration of the type of content you’d want to employ on your website, but if you replace the celebrity names with relevant keywords that relate to your business, you’ll start to see the possibilities that even “formulaic” material can have for your site.

Now, let’s get back to SEO tips…

Common SEO Copywriting Pitfalls to Avoid

In a classic episode of the TV show “The Simpsons,” Bart joins a Boy Scouts-like group because he’s excited at the prospect of learning to trap animals, go camping, and most importantly (to him) carrying a pocket knife. This excitement is derailed when he learns that, to handle his pocket knife, he first has to read a book called “The 10 Do’s and 500 Don’t Do’s of Knife Safety.”

SEO is a lot like that. To use search engine optimisation effectively, you have to learn about the common pitfalls beginners often encounter. We’ll try to make this portion of the article as painless as possible, but keep in mind that these tips are as essential, if not more than the tips on “what to do.”

Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Keyword Stuffing

A few short years ago, search engines like Google (or “dinosaurs” like AskJeeves) were a lot easier to trick.

Who remembers this?

To pick up our earlier example of the “Mongolian BBQ food truck,” a savvy website purveyor could write a hundred blog posts (we’ll use the term loosely, in this example) that were geared around their desired keyword–in this case “food truck in Melbourne.”

By utilising this phrase countless times throughout their website, they would’ve been able to get their site to the top of the search results for the words “food truck in Melbourne.”

Such tactics do not work anymore. Repeat: Such tactics do not work anymore. In fact, it is far from the case. Nearly every viable search engine in existence today has metrics sophisticated enough to spot this kind of trickery from a mile away.

Your best bet is to use your keyword no more than 2-3 times per 1,000 words.

Using Too Much Industry Jargon/Too Many Buzzwords

If you’ve been in business for awhile, the chances are that you know your product or service inside and out. While this is good for your day-to-day business operations, it can pose potential problems when you write SEO copy for your website.

One of the most costly mistakes businesses make in creating content is to gear their articles to other industry professionals, and not to customers. Chances are, your customers don’t know about your business in detail.

One of the best tips we’ve come across is this: write content that a ten-year-old could understand. Despite what you might think, your customers will not perceive this as “condescending” or “insulting.” Your prospective customers find step-by-step, simple information helpful.

Again, to pick up the ongoing metaphor of this article–Mongolian BBQ (we’ll admit it–maybe we’re hungry), you wouldn’t want to create a blog post about “The Optimal Temperature for Creating Skin Caramelization in Poultry Products.”

Sure, the discerning “connoisseur” types might click on, and thoroughly peruse this article, but your “Average Joe” who wants a tasty piece of barbecued chicken will most definitely not. They’d rather see an article called “Why Mongolian Barbecue Creates the Best Skin/Meat Texture.”

See what we mean? Same information, but put in layman’s terms. Counter-intuitive as it might seem, it doesn’t always pay to “show what you know.” This might confuse readers, or worse, make them navigate away from your website as quickly as they showed up. Do you want them going to a competing Mongolian food truck? We thought not.

Optimizing Your Content Too Much

Now, let’s look at a problem that many beginning/intermediate SEO practitioners face: over-optimizing their content.

Over optimising happens when an author attempts to jam too many keywords into a single article, making it appear “spammy” and unreadable. It’s a common problem with websites that are new to the concept of keywords (especially the long-tail variety). They think that by using phrases like “best Mongolian barbecue in Melbourne,” “Mongolian food near Melbourne, Victoria,” and “where to find Mongolian barbecue in Victoria,” that they can somehow cheat their way to the top of Google’s results for each of these titles.

This is not the case. In fact, it is FAR from the case–websites that do this are recognised by readers, and even by sophisticated search engines like Google, as Spam. And we all know that only Hawaiians like Spam (just kidding, Hawaiians, you know we love you).

Let’s break this down a little bit: in the end, you want even your most optimised content to be readable. We’re not saying that you have to be Shakespeare, Socrates, or Stephen King, but you should always remember that you’re writing for curious potential customers. It’s easier to lose their attention than it was to get it in the first place.

Here’s an SEO axiom to keep in your back pocket forever: in a world (or web) full of content, it’s much easier to lose someone’s attention than it was to gain it. Remember this: you want to keep readers on your site as long as possible–spammy content does the exact opposite.

Poor Grammar and Spelling

We understand that people don’t all have equal spelling and grammar skills. With that said, even the average reader is going to notice repeated syntax errors, poor spelling, and improper grammar.

There are many handy guides to proper writing and grammar, including Strunk & White’s classic “Elements of Style,” which we recommend to all writers. If this seems like it’s “beyond your pay-grade,” we recommend hiring your content writing out to a professional copywriter to ensure you’re getting the utmost quality for your dollar.

You can even use tools like Grammarly or Hemmingway app.

Plagiarized/Duplicated Content

Internet music and movie piracy might’ve loosened the average Joe’s idea of what constitutes “ownership,” but before we close out, we’d like to remind you of a few points…

Even though the internet might seem to have a looser code of ethics, remember: copyright is still copyright. You are most definitely not allowed to take content wholesale (or even four words at a time) from rival sites, or even unrelated sites without providing proper permissions.

Even elementary schools run students’ papers through primary plagiarism detectors; your website should employ the same tactics.

Story-Based Content Marketing is Not Optional

People see a mind-boggling amount of advertisements every single day of their lives. They know when somebody is selling something.

You’ve probably noticed a distinct uptick in television advertisements that winkingly make “meta” references to the fact that they’re making a sales pitch.

That annoying trend will likely die out soon, but story-based content marketing is here to stay. There’s a straightforward reason for this: people are willing to read or watch a quality advertisement.

Story-based content is a way to communicate the message to your customers that, while you’d love it if they’d purchase your wares, you’re excited to share a story or a piece of information with them. Even if you are writing product description on your Shopify store (Shopify SEO), the description can entice a potential buyer with great content.

It legitimises your site in the eyes of your viewers. Whether they consciously realise it or feel it, something seems wrong about a site that only has “About Us”, and a “Contact Us” sections. Not only will prospective customers quickly navigate away from your site, but the chances are also that they won’t return.

Suffice it to say, if you’re going to be lazy about one aspect of your online strategy, do not–REPEAT: DO NOT–make it your SEO content marketing. Please remember the parable of the “Nothing Store”–how long would anyone browse around in that shop?

While we hope that we’ve provided you more than enough tips to create years worth of quality content, it’s important to recognise your strengths and weaknesses.

Your Brand’s Story: It’s Not Just Telling, It’s Compelling

Most people can write a couple of basic paragraphs explaining their business model, their products, or the services they offer. Boring!

In a flooded online marketplace, where SEO vs PPC debates are not even commonplace anymore, you’re going to have to do better than that to keep your readers’ attention–after all; you’re competing with literally every other site on the net.

What’s the Difference Between a Story and a List of Facts?

When developing your brand’s story, it’s important to think about why people read articles and stories in the first place (non-fiction or even pure fantasy): they read articles and stories to be entertained; information is secondary (though still valuable).

Face it–if your readers wanted a definitive, dry run-down of information, they probably would have gone to Wikipedia, a user’s manual, or another comprehensive source.

Writing is an art

You don’t have to be Stephen King to capture a reader’s attention, and you don’t have to be Jerry Seinfeld to amuse and entertain your audience.

First and foremost, you have to be excited about the story you’re telling. The excitement in storytelling shines through in great content and invites your readers to share your level of enthusiasm.

It’s best to explain everything that needs to be said, and then edit it down to remove fluff. Then, it’s time to analyse the piece–it helps to get several opinions on an article or section of SEO marketing.

Does it hold your attention? Are there parts of the article that drag on for too long? Is it readable, or is it clunky? Could the text be broken up into smaller paragraphs to look friendlier and less forbidding to the reader?

It might seem like overkill, but you should ask yourself each of these questions to determine whether you’ve, in fact, got quality content on your hands.

Writing is a creative discipline just like any other. The ideas that make up its body have to come from somewhere, and can’t only be manufactured en-masse. The page is not a conveyor belt, and a writer is not a factory worker. Writing is an art, and the way that we approach our work always respects what that means. Writing in this way ensures that every piece we create has its sense of personality and purpose.

No matter the nature of the work, each piece should be unique, compelling, and above all, memorable; not read like it was churned out of a sentence generator.

Good content is not good writing, but also good storytelling. That’s why our in-house writing team is made up of people who understand how to tell a compelling narrative while possessing the writing skills to bring them to life. Our writers come from a variety of communications-based backgrounds including creative writing and journalism, as well as some other artistic mediums like stage, film, and radio. Through most of their lives, this passionate group haA Word About Big Data and Business Intelligences studied and devoted themselves to exploring the intricacies of the written word.

Telling Your Story

Okay–let’s say you’ve got your first-draft of your story written. It will greatly benefit from a little more analysis.

After all, just because it’s a story doesn’t mean it’s a good story. If you’ve ever listened to someone describing a dream, you know just how aggravating a dull, directionless tale can be.

Great storytelling is different than merely listing facts; it requires some additional talents, including:

1. Capturing the reader’s attention with a compelling, unique introduction
2. Giving them an idea of the benefits or information the content will provide–people want their expectations to be met, so it’s essential to manage them from the very start
3. Holding their attention by mixing up tone, format (using lists, bulleted points, etc.)
4. Coming to a satisfying conclusion, and in most cases, summarising the information that was given

If your content meets these demands, you’re well on your way to a more successful website.

Before You Leave

Whew! We know that we’ve thrown a lot of information your way throughout this piece, but here are a few takeaways we hope you’ll keep with you:

  • You should develop unique keywords for your business
  • You should use these keywords sparingly throughout the content on your site
  • You should think like your customers, and feel of the “search terms” they’ll provide to access your site
  • Improve sales copy to entice users to take action on your website
  • Improve the overall copy to ensure that visitors get value out of everything they read on your site including information that will help them make a purchase

We wish you the best of luck creating great SEO copywriting on your site. It’s not an easy feat, but it’s well worth the effort it takes to drive ROI and conversion!