SEO Copywriting - The 12 Essential Elements of Writing Unbeatable SEO Copy
Updated: Aug 2, 2018
SEO copywriting is writing online copy that fulfills existing needs better than all competitors.
And how do you know that that SEO content fulfills the need better?
Well ... one will share, bookmark and refer more often than your competitors. Furthermore, they will click more often on the links you mention in your article, return to your website and will not click on 'back' as quickly to go back to the search results. And these can all be signals that Google uses to determine the ranking in Google.
Anyone can write such webcopy. Especially when you know what you should and should not pay attention to. With this checklist, packed with concrete tips, you can write
unbeatable SEO copy at the end of the ride.
1. Old School SEO vs Modern SEO
Too many people still think of non-readable over-optimized web pages that are not about anything. SEO gone wild.
Modern SEO copywriting is about creating content that is so attractive that the searcher takes action - enchanting content that makes the visitor share, like, respond,
click, click and buy. It is about making a glorious promise and fulfilling that promise. It's about creating trust and authority.
Content that is aimed at fulfilling a specific need (on-page SEO) is still the basis, but it is only the entrance ticket. The requirement to play in the fight for a number 1
position. Do you really want to score? Then you have to go all-in. You have to crush the competition. You have to give everything to make the best possible page about the
subject you want to rank on.
2. What do we want?
More convenience, money, appreciation and fewer uncertainties.
When do we want it?
Yes … Now, of course.
If you want to create content that you want to read and share, you need to know what you want and share what you do.
Why are we sharing?
The New York Times researched the motivation behind sharing in 2011 . They have put the different motivations in 5 groups.
1. To share valuable and entertaining content. 94% of the respondents are aware of how valuable the information is for their followers.
2. To define themselves to others. 68% of respondents share content to give their followers a better picture of who they are and what they care about.
3. To grow and maintain relationships. 78% of the respondents share information online in order to stay in contact with people they are otherwise not in contact with.
4. For self-development. 69% of the respondents share information so that they feel more involved in the world.
5. To tell about the things they care about. 84% of the respondents share because it is a good way to support what they care about.
Why do we link?
There are 8 reasons why links exist:
1. Attribution - refer to the original author of the content
2. Reference - Quoting a quote from another author
3. Definition - Refer to a page that has a concept
4. Expansion - Refer to a more specific source
5. Identification - Refer to a place, person or company.
6. Example - Referring an example
7. Action - Referring to something the reader can do
8. Relationship - Referring to websites with shared interest, status or activity
What does this mean?
Mediocrity is not the answer if you want to make unbeatable SEO copy.
SEO copywriting is about making something that you will remember. Make something you want to share.
3. Create short or long pages?
No definite answer.
Can an article of 400 words rank on a desired keyword? Absolutely. You do not even need 300 words. Can you rank high on a popular keyword with an article of 400 words? Probably not.
If you want to rank on a competitive keyword, you need links. Links from other authority sites. If you do not have one, you must get them. And various studies show that long articles on average get higher rankings , more links and shares . So long articles receive more attention.
Does every article have to be long?
No. The length must not be an end in itself. An article must be as long as it should be. No longer. Not even shorter.
You have to take into account the target group, the subject and your writing skills (it is very difficult to have someone read an article of 2500+ words). For a reasonable number of keywords / issues, an article of a few hundred words is better than an article of 2500+ words. Keep thinking about the complexity of the need you want to fulfill. The more complex the problem is, the longer the article must be. Having said that, a single article can be 5000 words or up to even 10000 words and with the right keywords and the right spread of those keywords (keyword frequency) within the article it can rank very high in search engine results even for a relatively new site.
4. An awesome SEO title
An awesome SEO title is clear and curious. It is also the most important part of SEO copywriting. Without an awesome title your article will be ignored.
The two most important parts when writing an awesome SEO title are: the keyword and the promise. The keyword is the 'what' and the promise is the 'why'. Consider the needs of
the human being (with the heading ' What do we want ') when formulating the promise. Why should person X read this article instead of that of the competition?
SEO and the title
The title is an important (perhaps the most important) factor that Google uses when determining the subject of web page. Put simply: Do you want to rank on a search term?
Place it in the title. The more visible these words are, the more value these words receive. In short: if possible, place them at the beginning of the sentence.
Do I always have to start the title with the keyword?
No. The title must also be desirable. It must be attractive. For example, the “SEO Tips” article will most likely have a higher click through rate (CTR) than the
How do you make a title desirable?
By making the promise even stronger. Use a strong adjective and / or a 'trigger' word (such as who, what, where, when, where or how).
Here are some examples:
• 13 Dumb Mistakes Making Your Business Blog Drab, Smelly, and Sleazy
• How to Write a Good Blog Post Super-Fast (and the Joy of Slow-Blogging)
• How to Write a Business Blog: The Perfect Recipe for a Delicious Blog Post
• The No-Nonsense Guide to Writing Online Headlines and Subheads
5. The clear meta-description
The meta-description has no direct influence on the ranking.
But that does not matter. The meta-description has influence on the CTR. And according to SearchMetrics there is a strong correlation between a high CTR and a higher ranking. And a higher CTR also means more visitors (and thus thr chance of shares and links). That is why it is also an important part of SEO copywriting.
Possibilities for the meta-description
1. A meta-description that summarizes the page.
2. A meta-description that tempts the visitor to click.
3. The first sentence or first two sentences of the page (if relevant).
Also try to incorporate the keyword and / or related words into the meta-description (which will then be shown in bold on the search engine results page). Furthermore, you confirm that it is a page that deals with his problem.
Do I have to enter a meta-description for each page?
I doubt. Do it anyway for the homepage and every page that rank in the top 10 for a reasonable keyword.
How do you create a meta-description?
You can do this with the SEO plugin from Yoast .
"Meta description tags, while not important to search engine rankings, are extremely important in gaining user click-through from search engine result pages (SERPs). These
short paragraphs are webmasters opportunity to advertise content and search for them."- Moz.com
6. A search engine friendly URL
A search engine friendly URL is short and descriptive.
Describe the page in 2 to 5 keywords. Previously, the url was taken away by the algorithm for determining the subject of the page. No idea if it is still being done. But that
does not matter again. A short simple URL is clearer to the reader, looks more professional and is easier to remember. You can turn any ordinary url into a short url using these url shorteners.
Examples of bad URLs
This is not the full link. It contains a lot more pointless extra information. All a potential buyer wants is details of the car.
Example of strong URLs
PS You would not be able to adjust existing long urls quickly. Why? You then have to redirect the old page and adjust all links to the relevant page. Furthermore, the page temporarily drops in the search results. You should just do it from now on. Make the url of each new page short and powerful before publishing it.
7. Multi-media and SEO
Is having images or videos a ranking factor?
I do not think so. It does have an indirect influence on the ranking. Why?
• Articles with images are shared more often.
o According to Buffer, tweets with images are shared three times as often
o According to BuzzSumo, messages with images are shared twice as often (both on Twitter and Facebook).
• The CTR (click through rate) is higher for messages on social media with an image
• The content is more readable (by virue of variation)
In short; more visitors, shares and chance of links.
SEO for images
• Give images short descriptive file names, for example VolcanoEruption.png.
• Use descriptive alt tags, for example "Number of Twitter shares with thumbnail".
If the image does not improve the content, it can in theory also have a negative impact.
For example, I have a slight aversion to typical stock photos. Think of overly smiling people who are editing an Excel sheet. NO ONE has such a pleasure with Excel ... Do I see such an image? Then chances are that I click away (and therefore not read or read the article).
What kind of images?
Images that entertain, inspire, clarify, stimulate or explain.
• Screenshots - I use Skitch
• Simple self-made drawings
• You can have illustrations made with Canva
• You can create images yourself with Canva
8. Reassuring heads
Heads provide overview and rest. They make an article scannable.
Treat headings as you treat the title. With care. Make clear what you are going to tell (with descriptive words) and why it is interesting for the reader. Headlines can also
be made stronger by using 'trigger' words and beautiful adjectives.
9. The importance of links
Connections are the power of the internet. A web page can quickly become twice as valuable when linking to additional quality content. Yet little is linked. Why?
1. People do not think about it.
2. People think they miss out on visitors / shares / sales when they link to external sources (I think it's the other way round).
We need to link more frequently to related pages within the website and to additional content on other people's websites
Why do you have to link?
• The article becomes more valuable to the visitor (and that can lead to more shares and links).
• You can revive old pages again.
• You strengthen the relationship with the person you link to.
• You create trust.
• You provide more activity on your site.
• Are you linking to high-quality pages? Then chances are that your page is also quality. And probably Google also takes this into account when determining the value of
the web page.
10. The loading time of your website
OK. In theory, it has nothing to do with SEO copywriting. But we cannot resist. Sorry.
The speed of your website affects conversion , ranking , bounce rate, number of visits and usability .
50% higher bounce rate with a loading time of 3 seconds
How fast should my website be?
Faster than 2 seconds is a good guideline.
How fast is my website?
• Check PageSpeed Insights from Google.
11. Related keywords
You should not see keywords as random words that you have to cram into your digital content to rank on that word. No. Keywords are needs. A superior page is a page that fulfills the need behind the keyword.
Google looks, among other things, at more specific and related searches to understand the needs of a searcher. You should do that too. If someone searches for the word
'portrait photography tips', Google wants to understand what tips the searcher is looking for.
Do these related and more specific searches appear in the article? Then the chances are higher that the page fulfills the need behind the keyword (and therefore better to
• So look at those related keywords to get more insight into the need behind the keyword
• And treat those keywords if they are relevant to your article.
How do you find those related keywords?
1. Through the keyword planner.
2. Via UberSuggest.
3. By looking at the "Searches related to" in the search results.
12. Readable and understandable
The more legible and understandable an article is, the more likely it is that your idea, story, expertise and tip will be right. The better this happens, the more valuable
your article becomes. And this means more shares, reactions and a greater chance of links. A good flow is essential for SEO copywriting.
Flow ensures that one goes from sentence 1 to 2 and from sentence 15 to 16.
See flow as a game. The title (the subject + the promise) determines the number of points a reader starts with. For example, someone who is reasonably interested starts with 5 points. With every funny remark, nice sentence and quality tip, there is one point. With each major spelling mistake, cliché and incomprehensible sense, one point goes off. Is the reader at 0? Then the rest of the article is scanned or clicked away.
How do you get more flow?
• Remove or replace any boring (and useless) sentence.
• Make jokes.
• Use a variation of short and long sentences.
• Tell (personal) stories.
• Ask questions.
• Be yourself and talk as you normally speak (write before you start an article 'Hi John,' at the top of the page (and remove it when you're done)).
Talk as the audience talks and use the words they use. This is essential for both copywriting and SEO. Mirror the language of the visitor. Even if you find that one word that you want to rank on "not so beautiful". It is about communicating effectively.
SEO copywriting revolves around creating curious promises and more than exceeding expectations. Well-written articles rank higher in Google, simply because they are being
read, shared more often, get more links and receive more reaction.