The Basics of SEO Copywriting: 5 Keys You Need to Know

5 Basics of Good SEO Copywriting

by | Aug 30, 2013 | Copywriting

Much of the time, when businesses say they want good copywriting, they mean they want good SEO copywriting.

There’s a great reason for this:

SEO copywriting helps your page rank in the search engines, which helps drive traffic to your site.

That’s a big deal. It also helps you become a big deal on Google.

Copyblogger also rightly states that modern SEO copywriting is about creating compelling, useful, valuable content that people will want to share and link to like crazy.

These links pointing back to you give you an even bigger SERP (search engine results page) boost – bigger than what keyword-optimized content can do alone.

So, the reasons for optimizing your copywriting for SEO are solid. You have to do it if you want to rank for certain keywords.

Thankfully, there are some basics you can follow to ensure you’re on the right track. Hit these, and you’ll position yourself for a big ol’ helping of SERP domination.

SEO copywriting

The 5 Basic Commandments of SEO Copywriting

It’s best to think of these SEO basics as commandments. You need to follow them to the letter to make sure you are optimizing your copy at the ground-floor level.

As the Google gods commanded it, so let it be:

1. Thou Shalt Optimize Thy Titles

Good SEO begins with optimizing the title of your piece with the keyword you’re targeting.

This helps tells the search engines exactly what your page is about from the get-go.

However, it’s often not enough to simply insert your keyword into your title – you need to place it where it will be most visible. That means inserting it naturally as close to the beginning of your title as possible.

You should also focus on creating a title/headline that is arresting, curiosity-inducing, or emotion-grabbing as well as descriptive, honest, and accurate.

It’s also important to create titles that are the right length. Otherwise, your titles will appear cut-off or truncated when they turn up in search results.

As you can see from this example, the title showing up in search has been truncated (indicated by the ellipsis at the end):

Thankfully, this title is written in a way so no important information is lost where it’s cut off.

If you must use a longer title than what Google allows in the search results, keep your focus keyword – and the most important part of your title – at the beginning.

For reference, Search Engine Watch and Moz recommend keeping your titles 50-60 characters long if you don’t want them cut off in the SERPs.

2. Thou Shalt Optimize Thy Meta Descriptions

Sometimes, but not always, the search engines will grab your meta description to use as the “snippet” text that shows up below your link.

Needless to say, this is an important bit of text. It could mean the difference between getting a click from a visitor or having them choose someone else’s link.

This snippet used to have a character limit of 160, but that has recently changed. Best practice right now is to keep your metas under 320 characters.

For good SEO, write metas for the users who will be reading them, not the search engines. A useful description that’s also enticing can help you grab that click from a searcher.

For good measure, include your focus keyword near the beginning of your meta description. This will also help your reader know that your page contains the exact information they need.

3. Thou Shalt Not Let Thy Content Quality Slide

The quality of your content matters to SEO just as much as any other factor.

To put it bluntly, high-quality content ranks higher.

In fact, according to Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors, content quality is the #1 ranking factor for on-the-page SEO:

What does high-quality look like? It is:

  • Well-written with no spelling or grammar errors
  • Factually accurate and up-to-date
  • Easy to understand and readable
  • Organized well, with logically arranged sections and sub-sections with subheaders
  • Scannable and easy to digest (note: this is a natural by-product of clear writing and good organization)

If your copy and content are not high-quality, all the other SEO activities you use won’t matter. You must create the best content possible, otherwise, Google will not consider you for first-page status.

4. Thou Shalt Use Keywords Intelligently in Thy SEO Copywriting

The use of keywords in your copywriting will serve as the foundation for your SEO efforts.

Without those keywords there, intelligently and strategically placed, the search engines won’t have any idea what to do with your content.

However, using keywords is not a science – it’s more of an art.

Along with adding your focus keyword to your title and meta description, you should also sprinkle it into your content as naturally as possible.

  • If you want to make it easy for the search engines to figure out what your page is about and rank you for the right keyword, include it as early in your first paragraph as possible.
  • Don’t overuse it, though – that’s keyword stuffing. Google may smite you because of it.

  • Instead, use synonyms and related terms to help search engines understand your page’s relevancy.

A good practice to follow to avoid over-using keywords:

  1. Consciously write your first paragraph to include your focus keyword.
  2. Then, forget about keywords altogether and write the rest of your piece normally.
  3. When you do this, you’ll find yourself naturally and effortlessly using synonyms and related terms in your copy, and it won’t feel like pulling teeth.

During the editing process, you can go back and scan your copy for these natural instances of keyword usage. Grab one or two synonyms and add them to one or two subheaders for good measure.

You can do a quick search of the document to see how often you used certain keywords. In Microsoft Word, for instance, simply type “Ctrl + f” to open the “search document” feature.

5. Thou Shalt Link to Relevant Web Pages in Thy Content

Link-building is as essential to SEO as keywords. The links you make between your site and other relevant, high-quality sites helps Google understand your relevance for user search.

And, the more relevant your high-quality page is, the better you will rank for your target keyword(s).

Conversely, according to Moz, a website that links to spam is probably spam itself.

In other words, if you want to rank highly, you need to be linking out to the websites you want to be associated with. This is called your “link neighborhood.”

Part of this must include earning quality backlinks as well as making sure you only link to trusted sites and resources in your copywriting.

“Backlinks” are links from other sites that point back to you and your content. You can earn these squarely based on the merit of your content, but you can also engage in link-building to help your SEO.

Before you dive into that, however, focus on creating solid links in your copywriting. Here’s how:

  • When you use sources for your writing, only cite those with a high domain authority (DA). To evaluate the DA of each site you want to link, use tools like the MozBar, SEOquake, or Open Site Explorer.
  • Always use relevant anchor text when linking to other sites. Switch it up, though, because Google will penalize you if you create tons of links with identical anchor text. (Anchor text is just the words you use to link to another site. The links throughout this blog are all examples of anchor text.)
  • Deep-link to pages from your own site within your content, when relevant. This does not mean linking to your homepage or “contact” page – instead, link to:
    • Blogs you published a long time ago
    • Specific product pages and landing pages

These links are pretty far out on your site’s link tree, but linking to them in your fresher content creates more connections between your pages. This, in turn, helps the website search crawlers index your pages better, faster, and in your favor, according to Neil Patel.

Follow These 5 SEO Copywriting Commandments and Go Higher in the SERPs

Search engines are fussy for a reason. They have to sift the spammy, useless, bad content from the valuable, helpful, informative, great content.

It’s all about giving users the best search experience possible.

This means, above all, always write for people for good SEO.

If you have a genuine desire to make your content as intuitive, organized, readable, and informational as possible for your human readers, you’ll go far.

Use these tips to help people find you, and the search engines will, too.

Could you use help with your SEO copywriting? The team at Express Writers has you covered! Head over to our Content Shop to learn how we can help you.

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