These days search rankings are weighted far more heavily towards inbound and intra-site links than copy, but that’s no reason not to ensure our copy is working hard for its corn.
So let’s begin by looking at the principles of SEO copywriting and then move on to the practice.
SEO copy needs to include keywords, or these days key phrases. These are the search terms your prospective visitors are typing into Google. (I could start saying “…and the other search engines” but that will quickly become tedious for both of us.)
To take an example, if you run a website that covers wine collecting, “fine wines”, “wine magazine”, and “wine collecting” might work as keywords. But then so might “premier cru Bordeaux”, “fine wine collecting”, “investing in wine” and “advice on wine storage”.
There are plenty of online tools to help you identify the right keywords for your site, so let’s just assume you’ve picked the second group above.
You want to use your keywords as early as possible in your body copy. Google assigns greater priority to pages that use keywords early, so waiting 100 words before mentioning them is unhelpful to your rankings. Our opening lines might, then, read something like this:
Do you collect premier cru Bordeaux? Are you thinking of investing in wine? Do you need advice on wine storage? At Corkscrew.com we share your passion for fine wines.
Collecting fine wines isn’t for the faint hearted – or the dull-palated – so we offer you advice on the best ones to collect. From tasting notes on the best premier cru Bordeaux to buy now to interviews with fine wine collectors.
The key to successful SEO copywriting is to use your keywords intelligently. Mindless repetition (which I have seen suggested quite seriously by a specialist SEO consultancy) will only earn you a spammer label from Google and a ranking plummeting to the high teens, where you find those sites whose text isn’t even supported by your browser.
Using variants is OK and it’s best to focus on just a few keywords per page, rather than trying to jam your entire list of keywords into every single page of your site.
One of the most useful – and pithiest – pieces of advice I have ever read on SEO copywriting runs like this: “Prefer to the specific to the general, the concrete to the abstract, the definite to the vague.”
So, “French wine” would be better than “wine”; and “premier cru Bordeaux” would be better than either.
Incidentally, the advice is contained in that online copywriting classic, “The Elements of Style”, originally published in 1915. Nothing new under the sun after all.
And I’m telling you this because?
If search is important to you, then you have to get SEO right or searchers won’t find your site. But consider this: once a searcher clicks on your site they turn into a prospect. So your copy needs to engage them with as much power as it did in pre-web days. That means doing something rather old fashioned…
…you have to forget about technology and figure out what you could say that might persuade someone to buy from you.