How to Write SEO-Friendly Copy That Converts

John Schnobrich for Unsplash

Content is king. It was true 10 years ago and it’s still true; it’s even acquired a new urgency with mobile search and local search refining the kind of information people are seeking.

Content is still the answer. More and more, video is getting the clicks and the likes, but that makes it even more important for those of us who write copy to make sure what we’re writing is going to not just attract, but convert. Good copy plays a role in everything digital-marketing-related: attracting attention, inviting inbound links, and creating other referrals. When your site is getting discussed on other sites, in blogs, and in emails, Google notices the activity. More “buzz” brings more people to your site.

The first rule is to create good content, quality content, content that says something. Many websites and newsletters feature copy that’s neither user-friendly nor SEO-friendly: it’s often about what the company likes rather than what its audience likes. So make sure, before you write anything, that you’ve analyzed your market and you can answer when your ideal customer or client asks, “So what? Why should I care?”

Some other SEO considerations to take into account when creating content:

Changing content: the more frequently you can add new content to a site, the better it is for your search engine ranking. A constant influx of new content keeps web crawlers revising the weight they’re giving your site. One easy way to do this is to maintain a blog, or several blogs, on the site, and update them regularly. Other options for changing content are articles placed on the site, a rotating set of tips (that can include your targeted keywords), a letter from the CEO, images, videos, etc.

Remember that search engines crawl every page, so the same attention should be paid everywhere as is paid to your home page. Some visitors will deep-link in: they never even see the home page, so make sure that every page has a point.

Great content engages users, stays on-theme, provides users with a logical path for site navigation, and provides high conversion rates. This is obvious in making the site user-friendly, but it also makes the site SEO-friendly in giving each page a “theme” (through a natural use of keywords and other content) onto which the web crawlers can latch.

Make the visitor the focus of each page (in a sense, this goes back to the “so what?” question: what can this page do for me?). When people put keywords into the search field, they’re looking for something specific: make sure the appropriate page tells them clearly and unequivocally whether or not you can give them what they want.

Along the same lines, write about benefits. This isn’t the place to say how great you are: if you meet a prospect’s needs, then you’re great from their point of view … and that’s all that matters. Tell them, specifically, how great this will be for them.

One way to make sure that your site is doing what you want it to do is to make a list of all the pages on the site. Look at each one individually. Is every page action-oriented? Does it answer the “so what?” question and provide a clear call to action?

Put it up, try it out. The great thing about websites is their flexibility. If something isn’t working, take it down and try something else. Solicit input from current clients/customers. What other content would they like to see there? What’s helpful… and what isn’t?

Forget marketspeak. Those of you accustomed to writing copy IN CAPITAL LETTERS with lots of exclamation marks–lose it. It’s not good SEO and, frankly, it’s not a great use of language either.

Know your audience. Know the people likely to be searching for your site, and the phrases and ideas to which they will respond. Everyone has a certain jargon or in-language they use; find the ones that appeal to your target audience. Again, this makes your site user-friendly … and web crawler-friendly.

You want to start with great keywords, but be sure not to overuse them. If the content doesn’t sound natural, then chances are you’ve leaned too hard on the same group of keywords. Derivations of your targeted keywords can enlarge your audience, or encourage visitors to dig deeper into the site.

It shouldn’t have to be said, but make sure that all of your content is grammatically correct and conforms to the rules of usage. Errors may drive potential customers or clients away. So maybe only a few people will be bothered enough to leave the site — say, five percent of your visitors. Are you really prepared to lose 5% of your potential income? (On the other hand, be sure to include common misspellings of terms used in your pages in your meta tags–because people enter all sorts of things into the search fields!)

Usability is a design issue, a content issue, and a search optimization issue. On each page, ask yourself: what is the most important thing that you want visitors to do? Make that the easiest thing to do, explained with the clearest and most vivid language available.

Content-based search engine optimization is usually hard work in the initial stages and — here’s your warning! — slow to show results. It is likely, however, to give you the best and most stable long-term results. Remember that content is king, and you’ll stay in Google’s good graces — and rankings!

Andrew Neel for Unsplash

Bestselling novelist of mystery and historical fiction. Writer, editor, & business storyteller at jeannettedebeauvoir.com.

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