Learn the fundamentals that will improve your search engine rankings and boost your website traffic.
Writing content, or copywriting, is as much an art form as it is a skill. While you want to engage readers with snappy imagery, it's also important that you publish content that is packed with elements that will help you improve your website's ranking.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and these three letters are responsible for a world of stress and confusion among online businesses, especially those who don't have a tech guru on staff.
Whether writing for your website, blog, or social media page, there are some basic fundamentals which will help you improve your search engine rankings, boost your website traffic, and generate more leads.
Here are nine SEO copywriting tips that will help your online business excel in every area possible.
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1. Know Your Audience
There is a lot of content published online. On Wordpress alone, there are 58.3 million new posts published each month and more than 409 million readers. As an SEO copywriter or publisher, the first thing that you need to know is that not all of these are your readers. In fact, just a small fraction of them are, and it's important that you spend some time identifying your particular audience.
What are the demographics of your audience? What primary problem is your audience trying to solve? Can you leverage trending topics and recent customer experiences to come up with interesting writing topics? Tell your readers a story, inspire them, and make solving their problems simple.
2. Invest in Your Title
While your content should be legible and engaging, your title really needs to "pop" and entice people to click. Believe it or not, this could have an effect on your search engine rankings. Rand Fishkin from Moz did a study a few years ago on the impact of queries and clicks on search rankings. He asked people on social media to search for a particular term and click on a specific result that was ranked #7. Within a few hours, the result had moved up to #1.
So, how do you garner attention for your title? Make sure that it is short and to the point. People tend to be drawn to lists (the top 10, 3 reasons, 5 benefits, etc.). Posing questions in a title also works well. Consider using emotional triggers in your title by stating a benefit. Power words and controversy have also been known to get attention and clicks.
3. Include Keywords in Your Title
As you come up with your winning title, you'll want to make sure that you're including your main keyword in your title and title tag for your page. Google's ranking factors tend to fluctuate but there is a list of 200 ranking factors for a web page, and this element is one of them. Where you place your keywords in your title tag also makes a difference. According to Moz, the optimal format for a title is to have the keywords at the beginning. They even have a fantastic title emulator tool. This brief SEO study was also done that confirms the importance of keyword placement in titles.
4. Incorporate LSI Keywords
LSI keywords are "Latent Semantic Indexing" keywords. These are terms that are not semantically related to your primary search term, but that have similar meanings. They can be synonyms but aren't limited to these as it can be based on trends as well. For example "virtual reality" is now considered an LSI keyword for the search term "Oculus Rift." If you were to look this up a few years ago, this wouldn't have been the case. As this can be a real brain-teaser for some, there are some online LSI keyword generators that can be extremely helpful in this process.
5. Structure Your Writing
The content of your post could be explosive and well-written, but if it's unorganized and difficult to view, you'll lose readers fast. Graphic design is now a useful element in content publishing as the look and feel of the piece matters almost as much as the substance. To accomplish a winning structure, keep paragraphs and sections short. Smaller blocks of text are easier for readers to digest and appear friendlier.
Also, consider using numbered or bulleted lists within your content. Don't make your entire piece a bulleted list. This is too much. Rather, break up content into distinct sections. Finally, use subheads to segment and break up content when it's appropriate. Another great way to break up content and make it more readable is with the use of images.
6. Use Images
Human beings are visual by nature, and most of us are drawn to eye-catching images on a content page. When images are used, they should be relevant to the content and optimized for SEO.
Images can be optimized by adding alt text, captions, file names, and by reducing file size so that they load quicker. Images found on Google Image search can often bring additional visitors to your website. According to Search Engine Watch, you can gain this extra traffic and improve your rankings by taking these simple image optimization steps.
7. Ignore Keyword Density
The number of times that a keyword, or keyword phrase, is used on a web page used to be incredibly important to copywriters and online publishers. Paying too much attention to this metric today could be a mistake. If keyword density is too high, Google may impose a penalty for stuffing. As most marketers will tell you after years of research, keyword density hasn't been proven to be a ranking factor, so it's best to ignore this in copywriting. A better focus is the creation of interesting, readable content that captures the focus of your visitors, making them want to take some desired action.
8. Link to Trusted Sites
Despite what happened with the flood of spammy sites and link building scams several years ago, links in content are not bad. In fact, the proper use of backlinks can be beneficial to your search engine rankings. This is accomplished in two ways.
Add a few internal links to other relevant pages on your website. Another way to link in content for SEO is through external links to trusted sites. If you quote a study or other industry authority in your content, provide a link to that content using relevant anchor text. This not only provides readers with references, but it also helps your site rank better when you link to credible sites. Reboot Online conducted this very extensive experiment in early 2016, which proves that outgoing links to trusted sites improve search engine rankings.
9. Include Trending Topics in Your Writing
Readers are ready to click on and read content that is relevant to what is "hot" in the world right now. While you may wish to avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion, there are a host of other trending topics that you can incorporate into your writing. If you have a particular keyword that you wish to focus on, you can set up a Google Alert with email notifications for fresh news stories. Other helpful sources of trending news include Buzzfeed Trends, Reddit list, Hashtags, and Google Trends.
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Writing for SEO takes planning and skill. While the content needs to be captivating and relevant to your audience's interests, it must also be structured in such a way that it's both visually appealing and will rank well in the search engines. Exceptional content will lead your visitors to share more on social media and bring more traffic to your website, which is good news for your business and your bottom line.