SEO Copywriting for Google and Humans
Do you want your SEO content to rank on the first page of Google?
It’s easy to get stuck on the many SEO best practices and lose track of who you are ultimately trying to reach…
Google has specific SEO factors it looks for when ranking pages in search results. Their priority is their users’ experience. So the more you serve the reader, the more Google serves you.
If I were to share only one SEO copywriting tip, it would be this…
Please your readers.
That sounds too simple, right?
The biggest challenge behind that is in knowing your audience and what they want.
In this post, I’ll share ideas to help you make your readers love you, so Google will too.
SEO Copywriting Tip #1: Plan Ahead
It might seem like a time-consuming step that you can skip. But I encourage you not to. Planning your SEO content writing ahead can help you determine:
- The best word choice
- The readers’ search intent
- What gaps your competition is leaving
The most efficient way to do this is through keyword research. That process helps you choose SEO keywords with confidence because you will know the word choice people use when searching for the topic you plan to write about.
Once you know the syntax your customers use to find answers to their questions, and you know what is lacking in the competition’s answer to those searches, you will have plenty of insight to weave into your SEO writing.
Alexa’s Marketing Stack has a suite of tools that help you with keyword research and competitive intelligence.
For this step in your SEO copywriting workflow, try:
Keyword Difficulty Tool
Competitor Keyword Matrix
Competitive Intelligence Tools
We also covered this tip in more depth in a recent post.
SEO Copywriting Tip #2: Outline Your Content
It sounds like high school all over again, doesn’t it?
While it might seem remedial, I’ve found this saves me tons of time in the long run.
Thinking through the structure of your content will help you:
- Keep your writing focused on your main points with clarity of thought
- Avoid wasting your reader’s time by going on unnecessary tangents
- Minimize the need to rewrite sections later that didn’t flow well
- Write much faster
I like to do tip #1 and #2 together. As I run through my keyword discovery process, it gives me lots of ideas on topics that are closely related to the main subject. That helps me to fill out the most important talking points and create content that covers the topic holistically.
SEO Copywriting Tip #3: Follow On-Page SEO Best Practices
Now that you’ve centered your content on what the reader wants, it’s time to talk about the technical side of writing for SEO.
For the sake of brevity (another good SEO copywriting tip), I’ll list on-page SEO factors you need to incorporate into your SEO copy.
Include your target keyword in:
- The title tag
- The meta description
- The URL
- The H1 tag
- Maybe an H2 tag or two
- The body copy
- Image file names
- Alt image tags
- Anchor text links to your content from other pages on your site
Also, include related keywords in the body copy and possibly in the H2 tags.
With the shift to semantic search, Google takes cues from all the content on the page, not just the most prominent and repeated keywords. To reinforce what topic your SEO content is about, it helps to include closely related keywords.
I miss some of these items all the time. With so many details to remember and so many steps in the content creation workflow, I’ve found it prudent to check on-page SEO immediately after publishing.
For this step in your SEO copywriting workflow, try:
On-Page SEO Checker to ensure you didn’t miss an important element.
Keyword Difficulty Tool to find related keywords to reinforce your topic.
SEO Copywriting Tip #4: Measure and Optimize
SEO Copywriting is probably more of an art than a science. But despite the seemingly subjective nature of what makes SEO copy “good,” there are a few metrics that can point to underperforming aspects. The great news is the fixes are pretty straightforward.
Click through rate (CTR)
Click through rate from search engine results pages (SERPs) tells you how compelling your title tag and meta description are to readers.
If it is low, think about this:
- Did you include the target keyword in both?
- If yes, is the target keyword visible in the SERP view? Or does it get cut off?
- Do they promise a clear and direct answer to the intent of the search term?
Bounce rate of visitors coming from search tells you whether the reader thinks your content answers their search.
If it is high, think about this:
- Is your intro compelling?
- Does the intro deliver on the promise your title tag and meta description conveyed in the SERP?
- Can the reader scan the page to confirm quickly your article has the answer to their search intent?
Here are some great tips on writing a compelling intro.
Engagement rate tells you how compelling the reader found your content after or while reading it.
The particular engagement metric to pay attention to really depends on the goal of your SEO content. It could be any of the following: Conversion Rate, Pages Per Visit, Time on Page, Time on Site.
Let’s assume you want people to convert by downloading a piece of content, subscribing to your newsletter, or signing up for a trial.
If your conversion rate is low, think about this:
- Is your offer in line with the search intent?
- Is the offer compelling?
- Is it clear what the next step is?
It has become cliché to say that writing for SEO is all about writing for humans.
But the truth is that Google relies on real people’s engagement with the content they show in SERPs to know what makes them happy.
To follow the simplified advice to “just create great content,” do your research to know what “great” means to your audience, and create SEO content with more confidence.
Write for SEO with Confidence
Alexa’s Marketing Stack has the tools you need to succeed in SEO.
Sign up for a free trial of an Advanced plan to discover keyword opportunities and plan your SEO content.
Kim has 12 years experience in demand generation, content marketing, and campaign management. Her expertise has helped grow user bases by as much as 7x year over year, and a startup from nothing to $1.2 million in revenue in just 3 years.
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