When it comes to creating SEO-targeted content, having great, engaging copy is a huge part of the deal.
Before you start creating a piece of content, take a minute to think about what you wish to accomplish with it:
- Is it more traffic?
- Is it more conversions?
- Is it building a brand?
Whatever drives you to create that new and unique piece, make sure to write with a few SEO tips that will guarantee great performance.
Here is a quick go-to SEO copywriting checklist with actionable tips to follow the next time you wish to write a new piece of content.
- 1. What is SEO copywriting?
- 2. Write for people and not machines, that’s what Google actually wants
- 3. Create an attractive title with your target keywords
- 4. Introduce headings to prioritize content
- 5. Make sure you have optimized meta tags
- 6. Include an image or a video
- 7. Simplify your URL/slug
- 8. Introduce CTAs or calls to action
- 9. Add internal links whenever possible
- 10. Check the length of your content
- In short
- Need help optimizing your content?
1. What is SEO copywriting?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, three words that mean the actions you need to take in order for a piece of content – website, blog post, ebook, etc- to rank at the top first in a search results page.
And how do you do that? With well-optimized copywriting.
Search engines, much like humans, read content online and determine if what they find answers the user’s query. Then, they place their findings in order so that users always see the best possible results first.
But not only do you need good writing, you also need it to meet some basic SEO guidelines. Let’s talk about that.
2. Write for people and not machines, that’s what Google actually wants
It may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many people out there try to “trick” search engines to make their content rank more.
But here’s the deal – search engines are not stupid.
If one thing is clear to them is this: good content is only good if people like it. Period.
We’ll be talking about some basic rules of SEO writing here but remember this – SEO rules will have no use if you are not 100% clear on this.
Our content needs to be created for humans, otherwise, it’s just keywords stuffed into a piece of text that serves no purpose nor offers a real answer to the reader’s problem.
And nobody wants that – including search engines.
3. Create an attractive title with your target keywords
The title is the first area you need to work on when you optimize an article for SEO. It’s what catches your reader’s attention the most.
If the title does not make users want to click on it and continue reading, it means it needs some improvement to make it more attractive.
And since the goal is to make that piece of content rank in search engines, you have to take one of the pillars of SEO into account: your target keyword for that specific content.
All of these titles are using formulas to create interest and have users click on them with phrases like:
- Best XXX
- [number] Best tools in [year]
- Free XXX
These simple tricks make users want to click and read the full content of the article or blog post. Use similar phrases for your headlines to drive more visits.
3.1 What is a keyword?
A keyword is a term a user types into the search bar anytime they look for something online.
We all look for information on Google every day, right? We need to introduce words or phrases related to the information we want to find. Those words and phrases are the keywords.
Examples of keywords would be “best shoe shop in London“, “lasagna recipe“, or “how to fix a leaking water tap“.
That’s it, simple. Anything you type on Google’s search bar is a keyword.
3.2 How do you use keywords in your content?
Whenever possible, place your target keyword in the title of the content. This is the most effective way to indicate to search engines that the article includes specific content about that target term.
As mentioned earlier, search engines read like us humans. And they do it as you would, from beginning to end, which means that the content we place first is what will indicate if we are talking about the target keyword.
The title is logically the first we all read. That is why it is crucial to have a well-optimized, appealing and catchy title with our selected keyword in it.
Say you want to rank for the term “what to visit in NYC”. You want to make sure the title of your article goes more or less like this “What to visit in NYC in [year]. Quick travel guide with the best tips”.
This is just an example but the possibilities are hundreds.
4. Introduce headings to prioritize content
Here’s a common mistake when optimizing an article for SEO – not having a hierarchical structure.
This is another one of the keys to writing for SEO.
This feature is important because it tells search engines how our content is organized within a piece, which helps them understand whether or not that page or article is actually about the selected keyword.
The way we introduce a hierarchy in content is through meta heading tags.
These are organized from highest to lowest as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. The first one is assigned to the title as it’s the most important part of the piece.
Then, it is recommended to include between 2 and 8 H2 headings, although there is no official number about how many are ideal to place.
It all depends on how the article is organized or how long it is.
Once you have organized the content of your article including meta tags in your headings, pay attention to other equally important tags. These can make a difference when it comes to optimizing an article for SEO.
The title tag is the one that, initially, is not as visible but is equally important. There are two ways we can see this tag:
- In the title of the result that appears on Google
- By placing the mouse pointer over the browser tab where the content is located
The descriptive text that appears just below this title in the Google result should also be optimized if it already isn’t.
This is the meta description tag and is the text that search engines use as an explanatory extract about each search’s results.
If we do not write anything in this area, search engines will place the text that they best interpret as the description. But of course, they do not always get it right and may show something that does not provide real value to that result.
It’s important that you are the one who marks what search engines show as a description.
6. Include an image or a video
Another valuable element when we want to optimize an article for SEO is an image or a video.
There are hundreds of articles and published pieces of content that do not contain any images or videos.
Illustrating any content with good, high-quality, visually appealing images raises your chances of readers continuing to read or even sharing that article.
Once you add a good image to your article, don’t forget that an important SEO tag should also be placed there: the Alt attribute.
This attribute is also a cue search engines read to understand that the content, both written and visual, contains the target keyword.
That’s why you must also include a short description containing your target keyword in this tag.
7. Simplify your URL/slug
The slug or URL should always be as concise and short as possible. In fact, Google looks at the first five words of the URL first, as former Google engineer Matt Cutts explained once:
If you can make your title four- or five-words long – and it is pretty natural. If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit
Try to get rid of or rephrase any URLs that are excessively long, as they’ll look bad for both Google and readers.
8. Introduce CTAs or calls to action
As in any piece of written content, reading should be fluid and entertaining, but you should not miss the opportunity to invite your readers to perform some action while browsing your content.
This is where calls to action (CTA) come in.
These calls are usually buttons where you invite users to do something, such as send a message, contact or fill out a form.
CTAs can make the difference between content that doesn’t produce results and content that gets more interactions.
9. Add internal links whenever possible
Creating interesting and entertaining content is the first step in getting your audience to see you and understand that your brand or business offers what they are looking for.
But when you want your content to appear more prominently in search engines, you must take more action.
You can introduce internal and external links in your content.
A good strategy of internal links can help you to rank and increase your visibility.
The idea is to create related content and connect it through links so that search engines understand that your content is comprehensive and adds more sources of value. This helps your content build authority.
An effective tool to achieve this SEO goal is creating topic clusters.
10. Check the length of your content
If you want to optimize the content you already have, you should also look at its length.
Studies show that longer content is more likely to rank and perform better with online readers.
Source: Search Engine Land
There is no rule of thumb about length as such, but this graph clearly shows how longer content performs better in search engines.
These basic guidelines are perfect to start optimizing any piece of content, so don’t let your existing content sit there when it could be the tool that places you in front of your potential audience.