The most effective online content is aimed at both visitors and search engines. Don’t think of search engine optimization (SEO) and copywriting as separate fields. You can write persuasive copy that’s also SEO-optimized. You simply need to practice the right strategies and get into the appropriate mindset. Here are some of the best SEO copywriting hacks that will keep your readers engaged, improve conversions, and help you rank better on Google.
1. Start strong
Don’t write copy as though you were writing an essay or book, where you introduce the topic, gradually explain relevant facts, and arrive at a conclusion. In copywriting, you need to grab the reader’s attention immediately by starting with the main point. The title should describe the primary aim that your readers want to achieve, whether it’s losing weight, making more money, improving their golf swing, or training their dog. Use compelling titles and subheadings. Draw readers in immediately with a compelling statement, question, or statistic. For example, if you’re a law firm targeted people who need a DWI lawyer, you might start with: “Arrested for DWI? Don’t Panic. Know Your Rights and Options.” Using relevant keywords in all your titles and headings is both sound SEO and keeps readers engaged.
2. Write to engage
Writing can have many goals. You may want to inform, communicate, clarify, or enlighten your readers on a certain topic. When it comes to copy, though, your main job is to get and maintain their attention.
- Use power words. Certain words are proven to engage and inspire readers. These include words with a sense of urgency, that motivate action, and that tap into the emotions. Note that power words can be either negative or positive. Here are some examples: Now, Achieve, Lift, Lose, Make, Decide, Risk, and Overcome.
- Focus on the reader. One of the most persuasive power words is “you.” Talk to the reader, address his or her problems and concerns.
- Tell stories. One exception to the “you” rule is when you’re telling a relevant story about yourself, another customer, or perhaps an anecdote about a well-known person. Stories are more interesting than facts and numbers on their own.
- Ask questions. It’s a proven principle of psychology that when people are presented with a question, they naturally seek an answer. After asking a probing and targeted question, provide a viable answer.
3. Write for readers first
While you can’t ignore the search engines, your main focus should always be on readers. As Yoast explains, making your content entertaining, valuable, and readable will help your SEO as well. Always use keywords in a natural way. Avoid old-school SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing (using the same keywords over and over) and ungrammatical sentences such as “Hairstylist Dallas.” Google has gotten quite sophisticated in recent years and values UX and readability over the mere repetition of keywords.
Another factor is that voice search is getting more and more popular. With voice search, people tend to speak conversationally rather than in keyword phrases. Voice search SEO may be high tech but it’s actually bringing search engine optimization more in alignment with natural speech.
4. Make your content readable
- Be clear and concise. Don’t use more words than necessary to make your point. Avoid run-on sentences. Don’t make paragraphs more than a few sentences long.
- Don’t write over your audience’s head. Unless you’re writing specifically for experts, assume that your readers know very little about the topic. Explain technical terms and acronyms. A good practice is to write on an 8th-grade reading level as this makes it widely readable. It’s always a good policy to run your content through a readability score checker such as the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test Tool.
- Make your pages reader-friendly by using sufficient white space. Break up long paragraphs into smaller ones. Use images such as photos and infographics so readers don’t have to wade through endless lines of text.
- Use numbered and bulleted lists. These improve readability and will catch the eyes of skimmers. While it’s nice to believe that people are going to read every word you write, this is not realistic. More and more readers today are skimmers. They take in the title, glance down the page and notice anything that stands out such as lists.
5. Add a table of contents
While a table of contents is traditionally reserved for books, it’s also useful for longer articles and blog posts. A clickable table of contents is helpful for SEO purposes. It gives you a chance to insert many clickable keywords. This feature will also make a long article more readable. We already mentioned how popular skimming is today. A table of contents is perfect for skimmers as they can click on the sections that interest them. You may retain impatient readers who would have otherwise left your site.
6. Optimize your meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are the snippets of text that accompany search results. They can be up to 155 characters. The purpose of a meta description is to summarize the page. While Google no longer uses them as a ranking factor directly, they can still have a significant impact on your results. Providing search engine users with a preview of your page can increase click-throughs, giving you more traffic and boosting your SEO.
When writing your meta descriptions, consider that these snippets may help people decide whether or not to visit your site. Be sure to mention the main points and benefits of the content. The meta description is a good place to ask provocative questions and mention your audience’s primary pain points.
7. Include both internal and external links
Internal links are links to other posts and pages on your site. They are good for SEO and also give visitors a reason to spend more time on your site. External links to relevant and authoritative content signal to Google that you’re publishing quality content for readers. Both types of links boost your authority as well as give you an SEO boost. When it comes to external links, the key is to keep them relevant and high-quality.
Make your website more effective with SEO copywriting tactics
Your website is a powerful tool for digital marketing. By using the right copywriting techniques you can improve engagement and get more leads and sales. You can also boost your SEO with these same strategies. Need help optimizing your website content for both readers and the search engines?