How to Write Great SEO Copy
Discover how to choose and implement the right keywords to drive traffic to your website
Many people believe that search engine optimisation, or SEO, is simply a matter of stuffing as many keywords into your web pages as possible but it’s about much more than that.
The pages that rank highest on Google aren’t just contrived jumbles of keywords. Google, and other major search engines, can spot when you’ve sacrificed quality content for repetition of certain phrases, and will punish you for doing so.
There are lots of factors which determine the ranking of your pages – the quality of your copy, the integrity of the sites you link to, and the esteem with which other people view your content are just some of the things you need to consider. You have to consider both the reader and the search engine when designing your site.
Choosing the right keywords
When it comes to choosing your keywords, you need to ask yourself: “what will people actually be typing into the search engine?”
The first thing to consider is that people type phrases, not just specific words, into search engines, so you need to group your keywords together into key phrases. For example, if you sell second-hand Mercedes cars, you need to include ‘second-hand Mercedes cars,’ as a key phrase; people won’t type just ‘second-hand’ or ‘Mercedes’ into Google. Try and focus on three or four key phrases that people will be searching for in relation to your business.
You also need to steer clear of phrases which are too general. If, for example, your company builds websites, you can’t rely on keywords like ‘web development’ as these are far too vague. People are more likely to search for things like ‘how to build a website,’ ‘building an affordable website’ and ‘low-cost website developer,’ because these are clear, relevant and targeted.
If you specialise in a particular product, it’s best to include it in your keywords; if you sell only Sony speaker systems, you’ll have more success if you use ‘Sony speakers’ as your keywords, rather than just ‘speakers’. And include as many variations on your keyword/phrase as possible. If you specialise in search engine optimisation you should include ‘search engine optimisation,’ ‘SEO’ and ‘search engine copy’ in your keywords, because people will search for all of these.
And it’s crucial that you do your research. People who are looking for your type of product will enter search terms you’ve never even thought of, so it pays to explore all the related searches. Thankfully, there are lots of free keyword search tools you can use: Wordtracker and Goggle Adwords are two of the best.
Where to include your keywords
It’s really important to include keywords as anchor text – in other words, the links you click on in web pages. When you’re on a web page and click a link to another one, the text on the link is known as anchor text. If you can get a keyword or two in here, it could really boost your ranking. Linking also increases your Google ranking and will help users navigate around your site.
In the bar at the very top of this page, you’ll see the title. It sits at the top of every web page, and it generally describes, in a few words, what the page is about. It’s crucial you get at least one keyword in the page title. If you have several keywords, don’t try to shoehorn all of them into the title – if you do, it’ll either be too long or totally unintelligible. Select your most important keyword and use that as it’s still important to write a clear, compelling headline.
The teaser or kicker
This is the first line after your heading and is the ad text in Google, so try and add at least one keyword or phrase here to attract users. This is another chance to inform web users what your site/article is about so make use of it.
If including images in your website, make sure to give them names. Again try to use keywords and phrases here, plus explain what the image is about or the article it relates to. This will help increase your website’s ranking with Google.
In the main body of your pages, it’s good practice to include keywords in the title of each article, the first line, and the sub-heads. But make sure you don’t just cram all your keywords into the part of the page you think is most visible; rather than squeezing them all into the first paragraph of an article, spread them out across the page.
When you are writing the code for your web page, it’s a good idea to include your keywords as meta tags – essentially they are just words or phrases which don’t appear when the site pops up on your computer screen, but allow search engines to work out what the site is about. Though keyword meta tags won’t improve your ranking on some search engines, it certainly won’t hurt to include them.
How to get a balance of keywords and compelling content
Essentially, good SEO copy demands a balance between compelling, relevant content and keyword-focused marketing. You need to get a decent number of keywords into each page, without sacrificing the quality that will entice to people to your site and thus boost your ranking.
This doesn’t mean spending ages worrying about keyword density – the number of keywords you have on each page as a percentage of the overall word count – a general rule of thumb for use of keywords when creating a page which is both audience and search engine-friendly is 5%; this will ensure you have enough key phrases, and your content is readable.
Never duplicate content
If one article on your page relates or compliments another then link to it – never copy and paste the other article in. Duplicated content is heavily penalised by Google, so never copy content across your site or allow another website to use your content. Additionally, if you decide to add contributed articles to your website, insure they are exclusively for you.
Quality is still key
Key phrases, keywords and linking articles are all essential but the most important consideration when creating content is still the quality of your work – both Google and the user will judge you on this. So consider both the reader and the search engine when designing your site.