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SEO Copywriting: The Complete Guide

SEO Copywriting: The Complete Guide

There is no doubt about the importance of search engine optimization.

A full 68% of all online experiences start with a search engine, and organic searches account for 53.3% of all website traffic.

Google reports that SEO traffic is 10 times greater than social media and 5 times greater than PPC.

But here’s the problem – Google is not pulling the curtain all the way back to reveal every single factor in their ranking algorithms, leaving SEO experts to make well-trained guesses.

And the factors we are aware of are constantly changing as Google makes updates to improve user searches.

So how do you make sure your content ranks well on Google and lands on page 1 of the SERPs?

The answer – by bringing SEO copywriting into your content strategy.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the do’s and don’ts of SEO copywriting and a step-by-step process for optimizing your content for Google’s ever-evolving search algorithms.

What is SEO Copywriting?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving a website with the aim of achieving high rankings with search engines, especially Google.

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SEO copywriting follows a similar goal, but focuses on the content creation process, ensuring that it provides maximum value and readability for both Google and regular users looking for information.

Google’s primary focus with each round of updates has always been to make search results more relevant to its users.

This is good news for content creators, because if your focus is on building the best possible site for your audience, you’re already optimizing for high Google rankings. Still, there are additional steps to maximizing these rankings.

SEO copywriting is the creation of content that:

Google can understand and index. Provides answers or relevant information to search queries. People find engaging enough to read and share. Is organized in a way that viewers and search engines can easily read. Target keywords and phrases that users search on Google .

SEO copywriting usually has additional goals that encourage readers to take a particular action – for example, buying a product, subscribing to a newsletter, and so on.

But the primary focus is on quality content. Any further calls for action come second.

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How to plan, create and format SEO content that ranks in Google

If you want to produce high quality SEO copywriting, you need to do some prep work before jumping into the writing process.

There is a delicate balance between writing for Google and writing for people.

If you write specifically for Google, your writing will become stiff and repetitive when you throw your keywords word-for-word at every opportunity. Of course, people do not talk like that.

If you write specifically for your audience without regard to Google, your content is unlikely to rank well because you do not pay enough attention to your targeted keywords.

But if you write with both Google and your human audience in mind, you will achieve maximum SEO potential.

Phase 1: Keyword Research

Before you start writing, you need to know your topic.

This is why keyword research is important.

You will target specific keywords that are relevant to your site’s established niche and have low competition (giving you a much greater chance of landing on the first SERP).

The following example is from Semrush, which is one of many keyword research tools available to help you:

KWFinder is another great tool that can help you find long tail keywords to target.

These valuable resources can help you find the best keywords to target and generate ideas for similar keywords and variations you may not have considered.

Phase 2: SERP Intent

SERP (search engine results page) intent – also sometimes referred to as search intent – puts topics and keywords in perspective based on why someone is searching for a particular keyword on Google and how they intend to use the information.

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Understanding search intent will allow you to properly target your intended audience based on their motives for using a search engine.

Let us e.g. Say we are targeted [best pizza] as a keyword.

What is your audience really looking for?

The best local pizza restaurant with outdoor dining? The best pizza recipe to make at home? The best pizza delivery service? The best pizza toppings?

Knowing the search intent behind your keywords is just as important as the keywords themselves, so you can tailor your content to the needs and expectations of your audience.

If you target [best pizza] Seen from a local pizzeria that offers dining, dinner and delivery, you want your content to be for people in the area looking for eateries, not people looking for online recipes.

Phase 3: Plan and sketch your article

Searchword?

Check.

Search intent?

Check.

Time to start writing?

… Not quite yet.

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Before diving directly into the content, complete your plan.

Keep in mind that Google and other search engines reward readability and organization, which means you should spend a little extra time planning your content to ensure a logical flow and presentation.

Before you start writing, ask yourself:

What is the purpose of the article? Do you hope to inform, educate, promote a product or service, solve a problem or answer a question? What do I want to achieve? What is your ultimate goal? Hoping to get more site traffic and ranked keywords? Or do you want readers to act? Who is my target audience? Knowing who will search for and read your content is as important as knowing what you are writing about. Speaking to a Gen Z audience, your tone and language will not be the same as if you were addressing an audience of 65+. How do I order the information I present? What are the logical steps you need to include? For example, many articles present a problem and then suggest a list of solutions to solve the said problem. Which structure will best hit my content? For example, a list will be laid out differently than a guide article.

As a minimum, you should outline your headings and subheadings so that you have a logical plan when you start writing.

Phase 4: Structure your article

When building your outline, pay attention to the structure of your article.

Readability is key, not only for Google, but also for readers who are likely to see through your article on a mobile device.

Look for opportunities like these.

Visual media. Long blocks of text are difficult to read, especially on mobile devices. If your human audience is struggling to read your article, Google will not be favorable to it either. Divide text by images, videos, and white spaces.

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Subheadings. Make it easier for skimmers to scroll through your content and find the most valuable sections based on their needs and interests.

Lists. Divide key points into bulleted lists or numbered lists whenever possible. Lists are easy to read for humans, but they are also a favorite of Google to easily generate information in a selected snippet.

E.g:

Clicking on the displayed article reveals an insightful look at the structure of the article.

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Each item that Google provided in the selected snippet is a separately numbered subheading of the article.

See why lists and subheadings are so crucial?

One of the most common writing structures used in journalism is the inverted pyramid. This technique organizes an article with the most important information at the beginning.

Within the first paragraph, a reader must have all the necessary details. Later sections are used to elaborate and provide examples.

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This proven writing technique works well for many types of content, especially if the primary purpose of the article is to answer a question.

Make the structure of your article part of your outline so you are ready to hit the ground running with the next step.

Phase 5: Content creation

Finally, it’s time to write.

It seems like a lot of preparation to reach this stage. But all the time research and planning is what separates successful SEO copywriting from run-of-the-mill blog posts that are screwed out with minimal effort.

As you type, keep in mind your keyword and audience, but remember to let your writing flow naturally.

Do not insert your keyword in every other sentence. If you stay focused on your topic, the keywords and phrases will fit seamlessly into your writing as you go.

Be sure to include your keyword in at least the first subheading, preferably more than one.

Yes, you want to make it easy for Google to catalog the main points of your article. But in the end, you are writing to the people who will read it, not the search engines.

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Including links in your content is important for SEO. Pay attention to the sites you refer to so that you can ensure that you have high quality links. Alexa is a great resource for controlling the authority of a website.

Phase 6: Edit

Do not beat publishing on a rough draft without editing first!

SEO copywriting is all about producing high quality content.

This means that bad research, spelling mistakes, disorganization and other mistakes will take a serious toll on your credibility. Your content should demonstrate your expertise, authority and credibility (EAT).

Ideally, you should have a content calendar so you can be on track and let your articles sit for a few days before returning to them for a final proofreading.

At least read your article a few times before you hit publish. Reading aloud can help you identify areas that are awkward and lose their flow.

Be sure to check for:

Spelling.Grammar.Punctuation.Active Voice.Transition Words.Tone.Readability.Sentence structure.Sentence length.Section length.

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When necessary, break long paragraphs into smaller ones for better readability.

Be critical of your own work. Does the article give the point you wanted to make? Does it have a clear call to action for the reader? Will it stick to the topic?

Do not be afraid to ask for feedback from others or get professional help to ensure that you publish the highest possible article.

The Secret to SEO Copywriting Success

The most important lesson to remember is that SEO copywriting is a process.

If you whip out articles on a whim without research or planning, you will not see the same level of success that you would if you slowed down and approached content creation with a step-by-step approach.

Not everyone has a naturally born talent for writing.

And that’s okay.

You do not have to have that talent to succeed in SEO copywriting.

If you are willing to do the work, your SEO copywriting skills will improve over time.

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As they say, practice makes perfect.

More resources:

Image credits

All screenshots taken by the author, July 16, 2021.

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