Tips for Proper Copywriting for SEO
SEO is a complex field, and one issue that a lot of people overlook or neglect is that of copywriting. It is easy to get caught up in link building website design and the other technical aspects that go alongside SEO – but in the long term you will need to work on more than just how your site looks.
Proper copywriting for SEO is essential if you want to have your site rank well. Web copy is vastly different to print copy. Web users have shorter attention spans, in general. Articles for the web should be shorter than print articles and should be broken up into short paragraphs. If an article is longer than a few hundred words, then headings will help too because they will make the article easier to skim read.
Keywords and Copy
Another thing that web copywriters need to think about is keywords. Search engines still use keywords as an important part of their ranking process. In the early days of the web, it was not uncommon for writers to fill articles with as many keywords as possible. The search engines were primitive and they did not even understand synonyms or plurals, so a writer talking about selling sneakers would write “sneaker, sneakers, training shoe, trainers, running shoe” and so on. They would spam as many words as possible to try to convince the search engines that the article should rank highly for those phrases – often, the phrases weren’t even what the article was about.
Today, keywords work a little differently. The search engines still rely on the presence of words in an article to rank it, but they look at the surrounding content and try to rank things thematically. You can even see this, to an extent, in searching for political content. Google will serve up content that reflects the views and interests of a user – so someone with leanings towards one political party is more likely to see content that reflects that party’s views than someone who leans in the other direction.
When you are writing copy, it’s important that the copy is clear, that you aren’t stuffing keywords too much (because then the search engines may view it as being spammy) and that the content is unique. Copy-pasting information from other sources is an easy way to get penalized.
Creating a Network
Links are a huge part of SEO – and who you link to is almost as important as who is linking to you. Of course, having high quality incoming links will help you to rank well – especially if those links include a number that are to ‘deep pages’ on your site – but the links that you make out to other sites are taken into account as well. When you link out, you’re giving some of your ‘link juice’ to the other sites – you’r voting for them and saying that you respect them. If you link to lots of sites, then you are devaluing your own site by doing so. However, if you don’t link out at all you run the risk of no-one wanting to link to you. It’s a balancing act.
A good copywriter will link to sites that are relevant to the article in question, which will help to add to the perception of authority of the site, and will also hopefully help long term with building up a ‘network’ of interlinked sites – maybe even encouraging the owner of the site that the links are for to then link back themselves. Reciprocal linking by arrangement, of course, is frowned upon.
Clickbait vs Shareable Content
Copywriters are under increasing pressure to write ‘clickbait’ – and while those eye-catching, controversial or question-asking titles are useful for social media, they aren’t always so good for long term SEO and organic traffic. SEO copy should be informative and engaging, and if it is also shareable then that’s a plus. Remember that it takes time for search engines to index websites, and therefore it is a good idea to make your web copy evergreen. Evergreen content is content that will remain useful for a long time. For example, an article about a recent news event is probably only going to be of interest to the average reader for a few days or weeks after the news happened. An article about how to decorate a Christmas tree will be relevant this Christmas, and next Christmas, and the year after that too. Articles about how to colour your hair will be article all year round, for many years, too. This means that if you can get those articles to rank well they will produce a steady stream of traffic for a long time to come – and that’s the hallmark of a successful copywriter.