Anyone with a hand can write. But it takes a special blend of wit, charm, and good old-fashioned hard work to write a copy that sells.
And that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
In this article, we’ll give you tried-and-tested tips on how to write a compelling web copy that sells. But before we do that, let’s first understand what SEO copywriting is.
What Is SEO Copywriting?
SEO copywriting is the art and science of writing web copy that is informative and compelling while also being keyword rich.
It’s a delicate balance, but when done well, it can result in higher search engine rankings and increased traffic to your website.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive into the SEO copywriting tips that distinguish the good from the great.
1. Write for your Audience First, Search Engines Second
That might seem like an obvious tip, but it’s one that’s often overlooked. It’s important to remember that you are writing for people, not robots. Yes, keywords are important, but if you stuff your content with too many of them, you’ll only be making your copy difficult to read, and your audience will quickly lose interest.
Instead, focus on writing for your audience first and foremost. Write as if you’re writing for yourself or a friend. Write the way you would want to be talked to — be personal, informal, and most importantly, interesting.
For example, if you’re writing about how to make the perfect scrambled eggs, you might be tempted to stuff your content with keywords like “best-scrambled egg recipe” or “easy, scrambled eggs.” But that’s not going to make for an interesting or enjoyable read.
The idea is to ensure the reader will have scrambled eggs for breakfast the following morning, not keywords.
Your copy should be informative, but it should also be interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention. After all, you want people to read your content, not just skim through it.
To summarize, write for your audience first and search engines second.
2. Keep It Short and Sweet
The principle of “less is more” applies to copywriting as well. People have short attention spans. They, therefore, don’t want to read a wall of text, no matter how exciting the topic may be.
Instead, focus on being concise and to the point. Get rid of all the fluff and get straight to the meat of the matter. That doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality for brevity. Just don’t be afraid to edit your work and cut out anything that doesn’t add value.
Some copywriters even recommend writing your first draft and then going back and cutting it in half. It’s daunting, we know, but it’s a great way to force yourself to be more concise.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your copy short and sweet:
- Use simple words and sentences
- Avoid jargon
- Get rid of unnecessary words
- Be direct
- Edit, edit, edit
Short and sweet copy is more likely to be read and remembered. So, next time you sit down to write, keep that in mind.
However, you do not want to confuse thin content with brevity. While thin content reeks of laziness and does not offer much value to the reader, brevity is about being concise and straight to the point.
Thin content is something like this:
“Scrambled eggs are a great breakfast food. They’re easy to make and only require a few ingredients.”
It might be short, but it doesn’t offer much value or information.
On the other hand, brevity is something like this:
“To make the perfect scrambled eggs, start by whisking the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Then, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the egg mixture to the pan and cook until desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally. Serve with toast and enjoy!”
It might be longer than the first example, but it packs a lot of punch.
Note that your content can still be long and brief simultaneously. It all comes down to being concise and cutting out anything that doesn’t add value.
3. Target 2 to 3 Keyword phrases
Many SEOs make the common mistake of targeting too many keyword phrases on a page. The thinking is that the more keywords you target, the more traffic you’ll get.
However, this is not the case. In fact, it can actually do more harm than good.
When you try to target too many keywords on a page, your content becomes diluted and difficult to read. Not to mention, it confuses search engines, which can actually hurt your ranking.
A better approach is to target 2 to 3 keyword phrases per page. The idea is to create focused, informative, and easy-to-read content.
A focused page has a better chance of ranking than a page that’s all over the place.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a long-form blog post. The general rule is to target 2-3 keyword phrases per page.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you own a pet store, and you want to write a blog post about dog food.
A good title might be “The Best Dog Foods for Puppies.”
Some possible keyword phrases could be “best dog food for puppies,” “puppy food,” and “dog food for puppies.”
See how each keyword phrase is closely related?
You do not want to veer too far off-topic, or you’ll lose your page’s focus.
So, how long should your article be to rank for these keyword phrases?
It really depends. There is no magic number. Just make sure your content is informative and relevant to the keyword phrases you’re targeting.
If you can hit all the key points while keeping your article under 1,000 words, then go for it.
But if it takes 1,500 words to really cover the topic, then that’s what you should write.
The bottom line is this: don’t worry about the length of your article. Just focus on writing quality content relevant to your target keyword phrases.
4. Set the Page Goal
Every page on your website should have a purpose or goal.
No matter what the goal is, make sure it is clear before you start writing.
If you’re not sure what the goal of the page should be, ask yourself this question:
“What do I want people to do when they land on this page?”
Your answer should be the goal of the page.
For example, if you want people to sign up for your email list, your goal might be “getting people to sign up for my email list.”
Once you have the goal in mind, writing focused and relevant content should be much easier.
It will also be easier to measure the success of your page because you’ll know exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
5. Use the PAS Formula
The PAS formula is a great way to write compelling copy that gets results.
PAS stands for Problem, Agitation, and Solution.
Here’s how it works:
First, you identify the problem your reader is facing.
Next, you agitate the problem so that it is clear why they need to take action.
Lastly, you offer a solution in the form of your product or service.
Let’s say you’re a web designer and want to write a blog post about the benefits of a website.
Your title could be “The Benefits of Having a website.”
For the problem, you might write about how many businesses still don’t have a website.
Then, for the agitation, you could talk about how a website can help them increase sales and reach a wider audience.
Finally, for the solution, you would talk about how your web design services can help them create an effective website that generates results.
See how that works?
The PAS formula is a great way to structure your content so that it is clear, concise, and easy to read. Plus, it’s a great way to get people to take action.
This formula gets to the heart of what people want to know, especially when you use their language and speak to their concerns.
6. Format Your Content for Online Readability
Online readers aren’t going to read your content the same way they would read a book.
They’ll scan it for relevant information.
So, how do you format your content, so it is easy to scan and read online?
Here are a few tips:
- Use short paragraphs. No one wants to read a wall of text.
- Use bullet points. They make it easy for readers to find the information they’re looking for.
- Use images. People are visual creatures and are more likely to remember information if an image accompanies it.
- Use headlines and subheads. They make your content easier to scan and read.
- Use bold and italics. They help draw attention to important information.
How to Format Your Content for Online Readability
If you want people to read your content, you need to format it for online readability.
Here are a few options:
Boldfacing and Italicizing
- Use boldfacing and italics to draw attention to keywords and phrases.
- That should make your content easier to scan and read.
- Plus, it will help people remember the information better.
- Make sure you have spread the boldfacing and italics throughout the piece, so it doesn’t look like you’ve just highlighted everything.
- Be sure not to overdo it
- Use subheadings (subtitles such as h2, h3, h4, etc.) to break up your content and make it easier to scan.
- Subheadings also help with SEO because they allow you to include keywords.
- Make sure your subheadings are clear and easy to understand.
- If people can’t figure out what the subheading is about, they will not read the content beneath it.
- Use subheadings to provide transition, flow, and organization to your piece.
- People are visual creatures and are more likely to remember information if an image accompanies it.
- Make sure the images you use are relevant and add to the content.
- Don’t just insert random images for the sake of having them.
- Use stock images, infographics, data visualizations, and original images.
- Images can also help break up your content and make it more visually appealing.
- Keep your paragraphs short – no one wants to read a wall of text.
- The ideal length for a paragraph is 3-4 sentences.
- If you find yourself going on, it’s probably time to break it into two paragraphs.
- That will make your content easier to read and scan.
- Online readers have short attention spans, so make sure your content is easy to consume.
People love lists because they’re easy to read and provide much information in a small amount of space.
When you use lists, make sure the items are relevant and exciting.
Don’t just list random things for the sake of having a list.
The items on your list should flow logically and be related to each other.
Indent your list slightly (20 to 50 pixels) to make it stand out from the rest of your content.
Bulleted lists can be used to detail user benefits, such as:
- Increased productivity
- More efficient workflows
- Improved collaboration
Numbered lists can be used to detail steps in a process, such as:
- Draft a list of potential topics
- Research the topics
- Outline the content
- Write the first draft
- Edit and revise the content
Using lists in your content will make it more scannable and easier to read.
At the same time, you want to avoid the following formatting mistakes:
- Table HTML: Table HTML interferes with your mobile design because of its restrictive nature.
- Flash: Flash is not supported by most mobile devices. Likely, it won’t work on your site.
- Auto-play audio and video: Audio and video automatically playing is annoying and intrusive.
- Pop-ups: Pop-ups are intrusive and difficult to close on a mobile device.
- Small fonts: small fonts are hard to read. Typically, 11 – 13px is the ideal font size.
- Off-colour subtitles and fonts: Everything you write should be within the scope of your brand guidelines and colour palette.
- Not using negative space: You need to use negative space to give your eyes a break. Too much content crammed into one space is overwhelming.
- Too many font options: Using too many different fonts can be confusing and make your site look unprofessional. Stick to 2 – 3 fonts at most.
Use Internal Linking
Internal linking is when you link to other pages on your website. That can be done by using keywords or phrases as anchor text.
Anchor text is the clickable text that is hyperlinked.
For example, if you’re linking to a page about copywriting tips, you would use the anchor text “copywriting tips.”
Internal linking is important for a few reasons:
- It helps search engines crawl your website more effectively.
- It boosts your SEO by allowing you to use keywords in the anchor text.
- It keeps people on your website longer, which reduces your bounce rate.
Here’s a recommended strategy for internal linking:
- Find 2 – 3 relevant pages that you want to link to.
- Find 1 – 2 relevant keywords or phrases that you want to use as anchor text.
- Add the links to your content.
- The higher up in your site structure an optimized page is, the more authority it has. So, be sure to point a link to this page.
- Spread the links evenly throughout your content. Don’t go overboard and link to every other word.
- Avoid using “click here” as anchor text. It’s generic and doesn’t tell the reader anything about where they’re going.
Just make sure you don’t go overboard with the links. A few well-placed links will suffice.
Optimize Your Meta Data
Metadata is the information that appears in the head section of your website’s code.
It includes things like your page title, meta descriptions, and alt text.
Here are a few tips for optimizing your metadata:
- Write unique titles and descriptions for each page.
- Use keywords judiciously. Don’t stuff your keywords in there. A few strategically placed keywords will do the trick.
- Keep your titles and descriptions under 55 characters. That’s the limit that Google displays in its search results.
- Use alt text on all images. Alt text is the text that appears when an image doesn’t load.
- Use Primary keywords in the title and a mix of primary and secondary keywords in the description
- Limit unnecessary words: Limit the number of conjunctions (use & instead of and) and prepositions (of, in, on) you use.
For example, rather than saying “The Best Copywriting Tips of All Time,” say “Best Copywriting Tips.”
Meta Description Tag
The meta description tag is the 160-character snippet that appears under your page title in the search results.
That’s your opportunity to sell people on clicking through to your website.
Here are a few tips for writing compelling meta descriptions:
- Write unique descriptions for each page.
- Use keywords judiciously. Again, don’t stuff your keywords in there. A few strategically placed keywords will do the trick.
- Keep your descriptions under 160 characters. That’s the limit that Google displays in its search results.
- Use active voice and actionable language. For example, “Learn how to improve your copywriting skills” is better than “Copywriting tips.”
- Use persuasive language. For example, “Discover the secrets to copywriting success” works better than “Copywriting tips.”
- Include a call to action. For example, “Click here to learn more about copywriting”
- Google will boldface the searched terms in the meta description, so make sure to put them there. Here are some tips:
- Use the primary keyword somewhere within the first 65 characters. The variations to play around with include:
- Singular or plural
- Different tenses
- Different word forms (i.e., verb vs. noun)
- Different word order, such as “Copywriting tips to improve your business” vs. “Improve your business with copywriting tips.”
- Use the secondary keyword(s) within the rest of the meta description.
Remember SEO Takes Time
SEO is a long-term game. It can take months or even years to see results.
You can’t publish a few blog posts and expect to rank number one for your target keywords.
You have to be patient and consistent with your SEO efforts.
Here are a few things you can do to stay motivated:
- Set realistic goals. Don’t expect to see results overnight. It takes time.
- Track your progress. Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to track your traffic. That will help you see the progress you’re making.
- Celebrate your wins. When you finally see results, take a moment to celebrate your success. That should keep you motivated.
- Be prepared for setbacks. There will be times when your traffic dips or you don’t see the results you want. That is normal. Just stay the course and keep working at it.
Find an SEO Copywriting Strategy that Works for You
Nothing like a good dose of inspiration to keep you going.
Check out these examples of businesses that have succeeded with their SEO copywriting strategies.
Then, find a way to apply their lessons to your business.
Moz is a software company that provides SEO tools and resources.
They’re also a great example of an effective SEO copywriting strategy.
Here’s what they do right:
- They focus on creating helpful, informative content.
- Their articles are well researched and offer actionable advice.
- They use relevant keywords throughout their articles.
- Their articles are shareworthy, with engaging headlines and visuals.
HubSpot is a company that provides inbound marketing software.
They’re also a great example of an effective SEO copywriting strategy.
Here’s what they do right:
- HubSpot has a dedicated blog team that writes helpful, informative articles.
- They have a clear content strategy, focusing on producing helpful, evergreen content.
- Of course, they use relevant keywords throughout their articles.
- Their articles are shareworthy, with catchy headlines and visuals.
Copyblogger specializes in providing resources and advice for copywriters.
And they’re a great example of an effective SEO copywriting strategy.
Here’s what they do right:
- Their articles are helpful, informative, and well researched.
- They’re consistent with their publishing schedule, with new articles every weekday.
- They use relevant keywords throughout their articles.
- Their headlines are attention-grabbing, and their articles are shareworthy.
Recap: How to Write Compelling SEO Copy
The above tips should help you write compelling SEO copy to help your business achieve its goals.
Here’s a quick recap of what we covered:
- Write for the reader first. SEO should be secondary.
- Keep your content helpful, informative, and well researched.
- Use relevant keywords throughout your content. But don’t overdo it.
- Make sure your headlines are attention-grabbing, and your articles are shareworthy.
- Be consistent with your SEO efforts. It takes time to see results.
- Celebrate your wins, but be prepared for setbacks.
What’s your best tip for writing compelling SEO copy? Please share it in the comments below.