If you are writing and publishing content for websites you should be writing and publishing your content so it is optimised for Search Engines. Search Engine Optimised (SEO) copy is a little more work but could reap massive benefits. Importantly, expert SEO copywriting is a prerequisite for achieving solid Search Engine Ranking Position (SERP) success. Search Engines need to understand what your page is all about as much as your visitors. Writing copy for SEO does not have to be a compromise. Read our top ten essential steps to write successful copy for SEO:
1. Define Content Objectives
You need to define the type of visitors you want to attract to each website page and the content within, as well as defining the message visitors read in Search Engine listings, this leads them to land on your page. Each page needs to be unique and have purpose: what do you want to achieve when visitors land on each page? The answer to this question could include sign-up, download info, to sell product or service, an explanation of your business model and so on.
2. Identify Relevant Keyphrases
Each page needs to have a unique focus and be relevant to the overall focus of your website. It is critical to perform a Keyword research and analysis before you prepare and write your copy. Each page should target a unique Keyword; ideally a search term relevant to the page with high search volumes. Equally, each page should be structured so the Keyword focus fits into the overall Keyword Cloud of your website. In order to build a Keyword Cloud write down the most important phrases to your site and group these phrases according to the emphasis you will be placing on each one. Think of your website as a pyramid, with the most relevant Keyphrases at the top, on you homepage, then long tail Keyphrases towards the bottom, in sub-pages. The lower down the less relevant. Each page should also have its own emphasis:
- Primary Keyphrases: which you want to optimise.
- Secondary Keyphrases: which are part of a Keyword group but unlike primary Keyphrases do not feature in the title tags and are slightly less frequent.
- Tertiary Keyphrases which might be very long tail keywords are less important but worth listing on the page a few times.
3. Choose Keyword Rich Document Name and File Location
Both page file name and sub directories should contain Keyphrases. Both are shown in the Search Engine results page increasing relevance to searchers. Including Keywords in both also increases relevance to search engines. If you can, try to include your primary Keywords in both file names and directories. If you use a CMS that creates file names, make sure the file names are created correctly or use URL alias.
4. Define Unique, Keyword Rich Title Tag
Title tags are important as search engines place strong emphasis on the Keyphrases in the page title. Always put the most important Keywords at the beginning of tags, brand names to the end. Don’t go over board, make titles no longer than 10 words. Titles are also shown in the search engine results page and if relevant to searchers titles improve click through rate.
5. Define Meta Tags
Google places little or no emphasis on meta tags in determining your site’s ranking position. Other Search Engines do read them to check the relevance of content, so it is best practice to create unique tags for every page. The meta description tag is important for your audience, this is often displayed on the search results page and will encourage people to click through. This means the meta description should contain page target keywords that are unique for every page. On top of this the description should have a unique selling point and call to action so searchers want to click through to your page. Try to keep to 150 characters, concise. Keep meta Keywords tag simple and only use the Keyphrases most relevant to the page you are writing. We recommend 10 to 15 words - no more.
6. Keywords Enrich Body Copy
The Keyphrase frequency in body copy is considered an important test of relevance by search engine algorithms. Copy should be a minimum of 300 words. Try to repeat each Keyphrase 3 times per page (more if content is longer than 300 words) and place most important Keywords at least once in the first paragraph. Aim for a keyword density of 2% in total, but don’t forget Keywords in title, tags, alt-tags and links count towards your density. Don’t overdo it in your main body copy!
7. Use Headings
Using heading styles <h1> for headings and <h2> subheadings, etc, which contain target Keyphrases has some positive effects for SEO and also helps with accessibility and scannability of the page.
8. Cross Link Pages
Cross linking your pages via hyperlinks is the most powerful page markup feature, both from an search engine optimisation and conversion point-of-view. Hyperlinks highlight the call to action to get the visitor to engage with page and site. Make sure you place hyperlinks in the page body copy with Keyphrases in the anchor text. Think about whether there are other pages on your site which this page would also be relevant for your readers and then link to the new page using anchor text containing your target Keyphrases.
9. Tag Images
Graphical images on each page can have an "Alt-text" associated with them. Alt-text is not seen by page visitors but is indexed by Search Engines and is used to determine relevancy. Always cross link images to related pages and use keywords in the Alt-text.
10. Keep Optimising Your Web Pages
You need to check your that your copy is effective and is modified where necessary. Regular updates and enhancements are good for SEO and site visitors. Check your web analytics to review visitors entering the site on your page and review your listing positions for different Search Engines.