Copywriting is a skill, no question.
When it’s mastered down to a science, it can drive readers and prospects to take action that is profitable for businesses.
But, at its heart, copywriting is also an art.
Here’s how Copyblogger defines it:
In many ways, the art of SEO copywriting is the art of written persuasion PLUS the science of search engine optimization.
Optimized copy is simply copy that people can find through online search. The “art” comes in when people read that copy and are moved to act.
It’s a one-two punch that can take a business everywhere.
So, how do you nail both the art side and the science side?
Let’s dig in and explore.
Nailing the Art of SEO Copywriting: 3 Tips
1. Follow the Famous Saying: “The more you tell, the more you sell.”
Famed ad man David Ogilvy advised copywriters to write more, not less, to convince customers to act.
Dr. Charles Edwards is responsible for saying “The more facts you tell, the more you sell,” but Ogilvy is the one who made it famous.
Why is it true?
Because you, as the copywriter, have a single chance to convince your prospect – when your copy is laid out in front of them.
If you put all your cards on the table, the customer will become better-informed, will feel smarter about the product/service, and thus will come to a decision more easily.
So, always remember to list those benefits, go into detail, and really give the prospect all the information they need. This will help them feel ready for the action you’re trying to pull from them.
Do not, however, confuse giving more information with being wordy or redundant.
(Do not be like Ron Swanson with his typewriter.)
Keep your copy concise, but provide plenty of facts and benefits.
2. Light Up Their Imagination with Stories
If you’re a writer, you’re a storyteller.
You can and should use that skill in your copy to help persuade and convince your prospects.
It works because:
- Stories make your readers feel real emotions, which are powerful motivators.
- Reading stories versus lists of facts helps your readers remember what you’re saying better.
For a great example of storytelling in copywriting, look to Modcloth, the women’s fashion retailer.
In each of their product descriptions, they tell a mini-story about the item in question to help their readers imagine what it would be like to own and wear it. The story also makes the item memorable.
Here’s a story about a bright yellow raincoat, which Modcloth has us imagining wearing during rainy commutes or “misty midnight jaunts”:
Here’s another about a breezy wedding dress, which the retailer wants us to imagine ourselves wearing right at that pivotal moment before the ceremony begins:
As you can see, stories are powerful. They make emotional connections between your reader and the product/service you’re trying to sell.
When you use stories in your copy, your readers will look like this:
Which will make them want to do this:
Which, in the end, will make them feel like this:
3. Relate to the Reader
The road to brilliant copy must always curve back to the reader.
To do this, first, you have to know who your reader is. Then, address them in your writing with these principles:
- Use second person voice. The reader is “you,” not “he” or “she.”
- Pretend you’re having a conversation with them. This becomes far more interesting and engaging when you’re writing for a specific target audience member. For example, how would you strike up a conversation with a middle-aged stay-at-home mom versus a millennial entrepreneur?
- Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and approach your copy from their point of view.
- Never for one moment forget who you’re talking to – each facet of your copy should speak to your target reader.
Finessing the Science of SEO Copywriting: 3 Tricks
The art of copywriting needs to be bolstered with the science of SEO. Here are some key basics:
1. Optimize for Keywords
If nobody reads your copy, all your work will go to waste.
To make sure it finds an audience, you must optimize it for search by using the right keywords in the right places.
Here are the places your target keyword needs to hog the spotlight:
- At or near the beginning of your headline/title
- Once in the first paragraph
- In at least one of your subheaders
- Inside your meta description, preferably at the beginning
Before you start inserting keywords into your copy willy-nilly, first remember that you should always use them naturally. This means if your copy sounds robotic and not like normal human speech, you need to rethink it.
For example, say I wanted to optimize my copy for the keyword “fiction books dogs”.
I would not want to write something like this:
Fiction books dogs are compelling – who doesn’t want to read about man’s best friend?
Instead, you need to make sure your keyword fits seamlessly into your copy. The reader shouldn’t even know it’s there:
Fiction books about dogs are compelling because dogs are man’s best friend.
Note how we inserted the conjunction “about” to help make the keyword mesh with normal English.
For funny-looking keywords, little grammar modifications like this can help in a pinch.
Feel free to use helper words like and, but, or, about, with, at, etc. within your keyword phrases – Google will ignore them and understand that you’re going for “fiction books dogs” rather than “fiction books about dogs.”
For example, the listing below is ranking for “fiction books dogs” even though it has a helper word (“for”) sandwiched in it:
2. Make Your Copy/Content Really Good
You would think good copy is a relative idea, but it’s not.
No matter where you look, all good copy has some key features in common. These are essential for SEO and ranking well.
According to Search Engine Journal, good copy is:
- Helpful and useful. It keys into user search intent and aims to answer the questions they’re actually asking. Keyword research helps you discover and target what that is.
- Inspiring, educational, or entertaining – or a combination of two, or even all three of these.
- Relevant to your brand. For instance, if you sell beauty products, you shouldn’t write about mountain bike racing, or vice-versa.
- Written for your target audience, not your peers. The language you use is tailored to your specific audience and avoids niche terms or specific, expert vocabulary they won’t understand.
- Factually accurate. You always strive to provide the best information that’s up-to-date, backed up by reputed sources.
Content quality is a major, if not THE major ranking factor you must observe if you want to hit page one. Your writing must be superb in all of the above ways if you expect to win ROI.
3. Write for Readability First, Search Engines Second
Neil Patel gives us an example of a headline that’s optimized for readers first, search engines second. He contrasts it with a headline that’s only optimized for search engines (“SEO-friendly, but not clickable”):
See the difference? One is enticing, informative, and relevant for humans – who doesn’t want to save money? The other is impersonal, topical, and… not much else. Search engine crawlers will love it, but humans will not.
The lesson here is to always write for your human reader, first. Never write just for the search robots – it will be noticeable. Plus, real people will ignore your copy in favor of writing that speaks to human needs better.
Master the Science and Art of SEO Copywriting for Better ROI and to Inspire Wonder
When science and art converge, something magical happens.
The intersection of these two seemingly opposite disciplines results in wonder, especially when they intertwine in your copy.
At its core, the art of SEO copywriting is a delicate balance between optimization and persuasion.
Nail them both, and your copy will be unstoppable.
Tired of trying to master the art of SEO copywriting? Quit stressing over it! Our team is here to help you out. Learn more about our services in the Content Shop.