What is SEO writing?

head with posts its representing idea generation

How SEO writing helps your website attract more traffic through planning, creating, and optimizing content

SEO writing is like putting together a good quality CV. Resumes are submitted to an excruciating screening process of filtering software. It teases out words matching the position description, detects similarities between the role and the candidate, and clusters the applications into groups. Suppose the proximity of what the candidate represents and what is required passes the acceptance threshold, the candidate is shortlisted. This simplified description resembles what search engines do with your website copy -crawl, index and rank. From a recruiter’s perspective, you might have landed a job. But are you happy how you rank? Optimized content on your website, just like a good resume, can make or break your visibility. The question is: how to write to appeal to search engines’ algorithms and to people who search for someone like you? Here is a guide on how SEO writing can help.

Understanding the strategy of good SEO writing

Writing for SEO has two types of audience – people and search engines. Adding AI to the equation might make the process more challenging, yet it helps write rigorously. 

The common view of SEO copywriting is stuffing text with keywords that attract the most traffic. If the search engine algorithm did not get more sophisticated and the text sounded natural, trying to win people over by peppering it with keywords could do the trick. Keywords were there to attract attention. But the content was irrelevant, sounding awkward and tiresome. The charm was gone, and so was the top-ranking. So, what can you do if the strategy of placing keywords here and there is no longer an enticing option? -The answer is research that will allow you to uncover:

  • Who is your audience? – Teenagers, female population, low-income sub-urban families, well-heeled expats, professionals in search of advice, etc. Possibilities are multiple, and you should know well in advance what segment of the market you want to tap into. Because this takes you to the next stage which is learning:
  • What language your audience speaks? – Would they type in the search box “software” or would they mostly go for “tool”? 
  • What problem does product solve? – Would they expect a copywriting agency to only write for them or would they get online training in copywriting? Is it within their price range? Or is the service available in their area?

Out of the combination of the three, you will likely come up with ideas about how people search for products like yours. And this will, in turn, help you build your SEO strategy. A retail business might leverage paid campaigns to attract direct traffic. Or use links and social media to draw referral traffic. A company that aims to generate leads to advertise its offline services will likely target long-tail keywords to respond to a search query. Being clear on the scope of your business, its objectives and target audience is key to crafting a keyword-rich copy that converts.

When talking about the strategy, you cannot skip observing your competitors. Knowing how competitors convey what they offer and where the words they use rank them should be on top of your to-do list. It is not about copying their ideas but finding a unique set of words that distinguish you and potentially finding your niche. And at the same time drives traffic to your website.

Once you have all these areas clear, you will need to set out on the hunt for the right words and phrases that capture the essence of your brand and best describe your product and the brand. As this belongs to the optimization process, we will deal with it later. 

SEO writing practices prove to be as challenging as the market you operate in. Finding the right words is one thing, but finding the words that put you a level or a few up from your closest competitors, that’s almost an art requiring skill, time and the help of software. But don’t think it looks so helpless. The key to a successful SEO writing lies in these 3 tasks:

Plan – when to create what

Content creation is an iterative process. For it to be successful, it should be fresh, authentic, and address the needs of your audience. As nothing is accidental in SEO copywriting, you need to get the planning underway but leave room for amendments. A travel agency that prides itself in being innovative in corporate travel will sound irrelevant now, knowing that this type of travel will not pick up soon. Rather, it is better to highlight a recent bestseller- local experiences- or feature any other product or service in line with the market circumstances to stay ahead of other market players. Search engines are not oblivious to the lack of changes in your website copy. Hence adapting your strategy and featuring it on your website will help you stay on top of your game and top of search results.

Building a website takes time. It takes time to have it indexed for it to become visible to the public. But once this has been accomplished, time is of the essence when it comes to ad-hoc changes or responding to seasonal spikes in demand. Keeping up with those and launching content before they happen is essential to remain high in the rankings. So once the schedule of those special events is out, it is time to get the content right.

Content – why you publish what you publish

Despite being a die-hard fan of brick-and-mortar, I hardly ever buy books in a traditional bookstore. More options are available online. I have my favorite websites I go to for research for my articles and type their name directly in – I don’t have the habit of bookmarking pages. And most of the time, I search for information – either type a question or a few words to see what results I can come up with. All these queries fall into these category types:

  • transactional when you search for something with an intent to buy it 
  • informational when you look for answers to a random question
  • navigational where you try your luck and want to land on a particular page without knowing its exact name. 

Knowing query types that lead to generating traffic to your website is crucial in generating optimized content. Why? Because not only will the architecture of your website benefit from knowing what purpose it serves, but also finding the right words will guide the audience towards it. A continuously updated content with relevant features might contribute to its virality. Therefore, causal rambling should be winnowed out by a carefully crafted copy that bears search intent in mind. And this is how we arrived at the crux of the matter -how to craft a copy that ranks high in the search engines, attracts traffic, sounds appealing enough to keep people scrolling, and converts viewers into customers or frequent users? Below you will find some of the best practices.

Optimize content – how to find the right words

Here is what crafting an SEO-friendly copy involves:

  • Finding the exact words that describe your product/ service – keywords
  • Building those keywords into 3-word phrases – long-tail keywords
  • Coming up with different words closely related to each other (LSI -latent semantic indexing). Using the term synonym would have been more apt, but not all synonyms are LSI words.
  • Ensuring selected words appear in your copy and are related to one another 
  • Picking the brains of those you know on how they would look for the product/ service if they were interested in finding it online
  • Using keyword tools to take most of the guesswork out of the way – Answer the public could be one of them.
  • Get to know your audience well – spot the differences in search intents conditioned by gender, age and location. You might want to tweak your key phrases according to those.
  • Making yourself familiar with how your competitors tackle the task by knowing what keywords they bet on
  • Observing how the language evolves – what words become obsolete and what others replace them, what new words emerge and transplant into the everyday language.

The bottom line is to use different sources to develop a list of keywords that are closely related to your brand and the product. But the process goes beyond solely putting together a list of words. You need take a business approach to it and distinguish fancy expressions from click-through-rate-increasing phrases. Don’t just settle for an excellent text that sells little.

Now that you are armed with tons of ideas, time to incorporate them into your text. The

The search engines might veto the density of keywords. But the location of your selection of words and phrases is what it takes to get their approval. Make sure your keywords are present in the title, subheadings and introduction. That the images are tagged properly, linking them to the broader context of the page. It is also worth honing CTAs to get a better click-through rate. They can work wonders if they sound original and not too pushy. It is worth coming up with a concise description or attractive to the eye bullet points to increase click through rate. Incorporating backlinks allows the search engines to get a broader view of the content you produce and its popularity among other websites endorsing their content as trustworthy, insightful and worth sharing.

With some of these hints up your sleeve, you might be more familiar now with the term SEO writing. It is not black magic, not some complex technical process you cannot cope with. Apart from time, sound reasoning, and sales approach, you will need to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Sounds daunting, but if this fails you, there are tools to help guide you on the right path. The most important thing  is to kick off with a general idea of how you would convey what you do in simple, not necessarily most searched for words. And from there, start to build an SEO-friendly copy.

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