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SEO Copywriting

This was originally posted on WriteOwl, a side project me and some buddies are working on.

Before Pandas and Penguins ruled the earth, an SEO copywriter could get away with stuffing keywords, being irrelevant to the user and writing short, choppy posts.

Marketers would pay writers for 300 word posts with 14 instances of a key phrase and then distribute said posts around the web to grow the link profile.

In the modern search engine era, these tactics have been overruled by relevancy; relevancy to the intended reader first and the robots second.

What I’ll outline is a framework to follow when writing for modern search engines, and by modern search engines I mean Google. This framework is based on recommendations from Google itself, personal experiences and trusted resources from the world of SEO.

SEO Copywriting Framework

What’s the target key phrase?
Focus on one key phrase or idea per post. Muddying the waters with topics is better suited for longer form content or split into individual topics. Generate your list of key phrases by learning where your brand or product overlaps with your ideal buyer’s interests.

What’s the purpose?
Are you writing to provide tips on a nagging buyer problem or commentary about a recent trade event? Modern SEO copywriting starts with the end-user and their problems. You want to be relevant to them first, then relevant to the search engines. A double sided quill so-to-speak.

Use the key phrase in the meta title description
The first impression that a search engine and user has with your article is often the meta title and meta description. When you’re SEO copywriting, make sure you include your target topic or phrase. Users will see your title and description in search engine results pages and robots will find your target phrase when they crawl. Win-win.

Modern SEO copywriting starts with the end-user and their problems.

One H1 (and use your key phrase)
The H1, or the most important heading, should be used once per page and include your target phrase. Your H1 gives Google an idea of what the content they’re about to crawl is all about and it gives your readers a visual hierarchy to follow as they skim your masterpiece. In this article, you’ll notice “SEO Copywriting” is our H1 for example.

Balance your key phrase use throughout your work
A great article doesn’t frontload a specific topic or keyphrase, it uses it throughout to make cohesive and targeted content for your readers. Start with your meta title and description, then your H1 and then use your key phrase throughout your article where it makes sense, don’t force it. There is nothing worse than a über-spammy post with the keyword in every other sentence, remember you’re writing for users first, robots second.

If your content is spammy, hard to read or leaves the reader with too many questions, then you may want to make some serious revisions.

Word count is important…but make sure it’s relevant
Relevant and focused articles are usually a bit longer in length. Why? Because a well thought out article has more to say and dives into a topic in-depth. Longer articles typically cover all the angles, while shorter ones just don’t have the time. Keep in mind, relevancy and helpfulness is key above all else, so if your content is 300 words, then it’s 300 words.

Credit your sources with outbound links
Recognizing your source material with links gives credit to the original author and gives your readers more context about your content. Think about it, wouldn’t you prefer credit for a well written article that someone references? For more about linking to your sources, checkout this SEO copywriting article by Hochman Consultants.

Write for 8th graders
What do high schoolers know about SEO copywriting? Well, for one, most people can understand books and papers designed for their reading level. Secondly, 8th graders have shorter attention spans, so keep your content compelling and relevant is important. Ann Handley, renowned content creator at MarketingProfs uses her teenage daughter as a barometer for content. So, channel your inner teenager and start typing.

Be relevant
If you didn’t pick up on this throughout this article, then I’ll repeat “BE RELEVANT!”. If your content is spammy, hard to read or leaves the reader with too many questions, then you may want to make some serious revisions. Write relevant content for humans, then optimize for search.

If you’re writing posts in Google Docs before you push to your website, then using a tool like WriteOwl Optimize can help adhere to the above framework. It’s free to use and will update while you’re typing your next masterpiece. Think of it as an SEO copywriting framework to use for blog posts, helpful articles or even a whitepaper or guide.

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I'm a skier, hiker, biker and runner. In my free time I write about the world of marketing. I also started this company, but who cares.