Ah, SEO. That behind-the-scenes magic that no one actually understands but everyone is desperately trying to “impress” to achieve better online search results. It’s an evolving set of factors, because the internet itself and how people use it are also evolving. But the reality is, search engines are just part of your audience.
Human behavior – how people respond to and interact with your content – is more of a driving force when it comes to search engine perception of your content’s value. So whatever you’re writing, think audience first.
If you’re writing for yourself, or you have full control of your company’s publishing and CRM software, you have access to every SEO-building tool and copywriting device available. You can optimize by crafting perfectly on-point descriptions for your text and photos, make sure all your meta tags are in place, etc., along with creating great copy. You can actually optimize as you write.
On the other hand, if you’re a contract writer, your options are considerably more limited. But if you’re conscientious and care about your clients there are still ways to make a significant difference on their behalf, deliberately considering how to maximize the SEO value of what you write.
Actual writing components every copywriter can control:
- Headlines (sometimes).
- Keywords – maybe not the selection, but certainly how you use them.
- Quality – the crux of the matter.
- Links (sometimes).
All of that contributes to optimization. Here are five ways you can do your utmost:
1. Concentrate on quality, because that’s what Google does.
Don’t just write about the topic, put yourself in your target persona’s shoes before you start. Why do they care about your content? Do some additional research to find a fresh slant, extra timeliness or relevance. Compelling copy reveals a unique approach to potentially tired topics.
2. Focus on formatting, because it matters in so many ways.
Visual appeal is as important as the information itself to engage readers. Perhaps more so, in that if your copy looks off-putting or boring, no one will bother reading it to find out if you have something worthwhile to say. You’ve just lost a prospect, rather than snaring one.
If you write frequently for the same blog, change up the formatting often enough to keep things interesting. Use bullets and sub-heads, but also numbered lists, Q&A format, etc. Change up the voice a little, too, if that’s appropriate.
Appealing formatting actually builds credibility and reinforces quality.
3. Eschew obfuscation.
I had a friend in school who carried around this slogan on a bumper sticker. I didn’t even know what it meant. But it’s the ultimate advice for writers. Get to the point and stay there.
Here’s another handy tip to improve the readability of your copywriting, therefore the quality. One of my co-workers when I was a technical writer has a little tongue-in-cheek sign above his desk that said: Why use a single-syllable word, when you can employ two, or utilize three? Think about it.
4. Talk to your client.
Clients aren’t necessarily all that savvy, that’s why they hired you. So help them. They’ll love you for the extra effort, and that builds your value as a copywriter.
Unwieldy keyword phrase? Try searching it to see if or how other writers have handled it. Great keywords don’t always make good grammatical sense, but you can use singular and plural versions or separate the words without denigrating their SEO value. Always talk to your client before you alter their instructions, though, because you don’t know the back story. Your instructions might be loosely conceived, or they may be based on very specific criteria.
5. Links make the world go round.
Clients don’t always want you to include links, they handle it themselves as part of their publishing sequence. But when you can add them, remember both internal and external links have value for your audience as well as your SEO.
Do everything you can to optimize the content you write, whether it’s website copy, blog articles or something else. That’ll generate the best possible results, and we’re not just talking search results. Well-optimized content goes beyond attracting interest, to engage prospects, convert leads and drive sales. And isn’t that the result you and your clients ultimately want?