Titles, Links & 6 Other SEO Copywriting Links
William Shakespeare might have been pretty handy with his quill, but good copy isn’t the same as optimised copy. Being able to write is one thing, but applying this skill to the digital world is another skill that we should all be picking up in 2014.
Any writers with experience of producing copy for digital formats will inevitably have encountered requests from clients to make sure that their work is ‘SEO friendly.’ Great writing is great writing no matter who your audience is or what language you’re writing in, but when you’re trying to please Google, Bing or Baidu, copywriting takes on a new mantle altogether. It’s good practice to continue putting the reader first and never to prioritise search engines over readability, but there are a number of things to bear in mind to help our SEO copywriting perform in the SERPs.
The title tag is one of the most important technical components of a web page. Google will look at this parameter to assess the overall theme of content on a page, so making sure that this is optimised will go a long way to laying the foundations. When writing title tags, consider the character count and make sure that you stay within the limits of what search engines display in their results. Include your main keyword at the beginning of the title where possible and try to insert your brand/company name too.
Headers offer a natural progression from the title tag. Search engines will read your website from top to bottom and your headers should follow this chronology, with your H1 being the most important, followed by H2 and then H3 etc. Generally speaking your H1 is often the same as your title, with your H2 introducing your page or article and H3 acting as subtitles. Every website will be different, but be sure to include your targeted keywords (don’t forget long-tail!) within your headers.
This doesn’t really fall under the remit of copywriting, but so many bloggers and website owners are building their own sites now that it’s definitely worth mentioning. If you’re building a landing page for your new Thai restaurant in Edinburgh, you’ll want to build an SEO-friendly URL that contains the words ‘Thai’, ‘restaurant’ and ‘Edinburgh.’ It’s common sense but you’d be surprised at how many people forget this step.
When it comes to internal linking, my advice would be to build as many as possible that are relevant. Link from your blog to your service pages, link from your home page to your landing pages, build a sensible user journey and you’ve got nothing to worry about. Point people to relevant pages and use logical anchor text that isn’t stuffed with keywords, but gives a clear indication of what the page is.
There’s a fading but problematic belief in SEO that linking to external sites is bad practice. Many marketers that try so hard to build backlinks and gather PageRank consider linking out a leak of equity. Again, as long as you’re maintaining relevance, this cannot do you any harm. Google looks at endless metrics to judge the value of your website; if you’re linking to similar websites (that includes competitors!) and similar websites are linking to you, Google will see you as much more of an authority.
‘Keyword density’ is a term that is fading, which is great news for copywriters. Applying a percentage value to copy is so alien to writers and writing that it was always bound to end up in the dustbin. As a general rule, if you’re trying to force keywords into your copy by changing sentence structure and paragraphs, you’re trying too hard. Write with logic and reason and your service keywords will appear and this will be enough. Don’t forget to use natural synonyms and variants within your copy to ensure that you cover user intent and search habits.
This is another bone of contention amongst those in SEO and copywriting. Google’s introduction of in-depth articles, structured mark-up, the Hummingbird algorithm and endless other tweaks to the service has shaken the landscape time and again. Recommended length was once between 100 and 300, more recently it shifted to 300 to 500 and many now believe pages are useless with less than 800 words. My advice is to continue thinking about the user, put Google to the back of your mind and write how you used to before the search giants came along and poked us all in the collective eye. If your landing page requires 1,200 words of copy to fully explain your complex service, then that’s what it needs. If it’s an intermediary page with design in mind and it’s got no copy on it at all, that’s fine too! Keep these thoughts in mind, but just remember that search engines crawl and index websites by reading script. The more script you make available to Google, the more resource it has to make a judgement on your website; for better or worse.
Making the transition from being a copywriter to becoming an SEO Copywriter can be a simple and painless process. Following the guidelines above will give you a fantastic head start and sooner than you think, the rules will become second nature to you. When you find yourself trying to get a keyword into your next crossword puzzle however, it’s time to take a step back…
Ross Jukes is an experienced SEO Copywriter and Johnny Cash fan living in Worcester, England. With an honours degree in Creative Writing and experience in Online Marketing, Ross is well equipped (lots of pens) to take on the might of Google. Read more at http://www.rossjukes.com.