How to Write for Your Audience and Appease Search Engines
Did you know that 89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers are using content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy? That means a lot of content is being produced! With our guide to SEO copywriting, you can make your content stand out in search results and generate more leads for your business.
SEO Copywriting Step 1: Understand Your Audience’s Interests
Before you can dive into writing, you first must understand what kind of content your audience is looking for. What are they interested in learning more about, and what writing style do they prefer to read? If your blog or article isn’t relevant to the people you’re trying to reach, it’s not going to produce results.
Spend some time looking through past well-performing blogs, researching new trends in the industry and talking with internal team members who have day-to-day contact with customers. These are good places to begin gathering ideas for content. You can also read through our guide to writing original content.
SEO Copywriting Step 2: Keyword Research
The next step is determining what words your audience uses in their pursuit of information. Internally, you might use highly technical terms or branded phrases to describe a topic, service or product. That’s great inter-office communication, but it’s not always ideal for your audience.
Frequently, your jargon doesn’t match up with what the everyday person searches, so keyword research will help you determine what words to use. Keyword Planner is a great tool to see a keyword’s average number of monthly searches, competition for those keywords and other helpful insights. Keyword Planner can help you discover additional keywords, or keyword clusters, that you may not have even considered and can give you information based on a specific location or language. Looking for other tools keyword research tools? Try out some of these tools recommended by top SEO professionals.
Choosing your primary keywords should also be informed by data other than average monthly searches. Broad terms with high monthly searches may seem like the best avenue, but your content will likely get lost in a sea of similar articles. Instead, choose 2-3 long-tail keywords per blog that are relevant to your audience. Yep, there’s that relevance thing again. It’s key to ranking.
SEO Copywriting Step 3: Structuring Content for SEO
You’ve picked your topic, figured out how your audience searches for your topic and picked the best keywords to target. Now it’s time to put together an outline for your content.
At Blue Compass, we begin the writing process by breaking our main points up into sections. Each of these section titles become an h2, and we structure our writing to fit within those topics so we can keep rambling to a minimum.
It’s also helpful to come up with specifications for each writing piece. Consider it a checklist of sorts as you go through the writing process. We like to define:
- Word count - minimum of three hundred words, but aim for seven hundred to one thousand.
- Keyword density – shoot for one to two percent keyword density in your body copy.
- Meta title & meta description – include your primary keyword in each.
- Social title & description – include your primary keyword in each.
- Image direction – will there be images, what will they look like and where do they belong?
SEO Copywriting Step 4: SEO Compliant Writing
With a good blueprint in hand, you’re ready to begin writing. SEO copywriting is all about balance. You want to write a piece of content that speaks to your audience and to the search engines. Google’s goal is to provide high-quality content to users, so focus on writing for people first.
When you’re writing with SEO in mind:
- Be engaging.
- Provide a solution to a problem, or answer to a question.
- Write something new to avoid duplicate content.
- Include calls to action.
- Use keywords in your image tags, URL, body copy, title and headings.
- Link internally to related articles and externally to reputable sources.
Avoid these misguided practices:
- Keyword stuffing – Google is smart. You don’t need to unnaturally add extra keywords to rank.
- Linking to bad sources – this hurts your credibility and will trigger a warning from browsers if you’re sending traffic to a non-secure site (http vs. https).
- Adding fluff – don’t add unnecessary words just to hit a word count. This waters down your content.
SEO Copywriting Step 5: Don’t Forget Design
Does optimizing your blog for search end with writing? No, that would be too easy. When it comes to SEO, design is a big deal for a couple reasons. First, we know from experience that incorporating multimedia within content increases the time on page, which is a positive signal for ranking.
Second, images and infographics make it easier to digest and skim information. Be sure to size images appropriately so they don’t slow down your page load time, and add keyword rich image file names, image titles and alt text to each image. Use quality, original images whenever possible instead of stock photos.
SEO Copywriting Step 6: Technical SEO Best Practices
When it comes to SEO copywriting, don’t forget to think about the technical SEO best practices that might be pulling you down.
- Page speed – your content may be great, but if it takes forever to load no one is going to read it.
- Mobile optimization –because mobile internet usage is so high, Google will penalize you if your site is not responsive. Create AMP versions of your content when possible.
- Site security – Google has been transparent about preferring secured (HTTPS) sites to non-secured (HTTP). In the future, we expect to see an even bigger ranking boost for secured sites.
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