seo copywriter

What Is SEO Copywriting? How to Write SEO Copy

SEO copywriting is the process of researching, planning, writing, editing, and publishing written copy with the primary goal of ranking high in search engines.

You can use SEO copywriting to create:

Virtually any form of content that can be indexed by search engines can benefit from being written by an SEO copywriter.

Why is SEO copywriting important?

SEO copywriting is essential because it helps increase organic website traffic.

upwards trend of organic traffic from seo copywriting

By targeting specific keywords and writing copy around them, you satisfy the search intent behind these keywords people are typing on Google.

When your content is valuable and optimized for SEO, you can rank well for these terms, which is beneficial for business growth. 

SEO copywriting helps you:

  • Increase overall organic traffic
  • Improve conversion rates
  • Grow brand awareness
  • Reduce customer acquisition costs (CPC)
  • Get more targeted leads
  • Increase online market share 

Overall, SEO copy establishes greater online authority and visibility for your business and improves multiple marketing KPIs central to business growth.

How to write SEO copy

The best way to write SEO copy is to start with research and planning.

Doing so gives you the best chance of success as you’re making less guesses about what people are searching for and which topics are appropriate for your website’s domain authority.

But no matter how much you plan, there’s no way to guarantee the content you write will perform well in search engines. 

Following a consistent process will help ensure you give yourself the best chance of success every time you hit publish.

Step one: keyword research

The first step is keyword research.

Keyword research helps you:

  • Ensure the topic you’re writing about is searchable
  • Understand the “search intent” of your readers
  • Find blog topics based on keywords that you have a good chance of ranking for

Before you perform keyword research, be sure to:

  1. Define the purpose of your blog
  2. Know exactly who your target audience is 

Some ways to get started: 

  • Search general keywords related to your website into a content ideation tool
  • Analyze your competitors’ best-performing pages to see what’s already working with an SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush *high recommend this
  • Go to a relevant subreddit on Reddit to see what your target audience is talking about
  • Identify trends with Google Tends 

Now, choose one focus keyword that clearly defines your post.

Make sure your focus keyword is:

  • Searched often enough
  • Isn’t too competitive for your domain
  • Related to what you’re selling
  • About a topic you can cover with authority

For example, the focus keyword for this article is “seo copywriting.”

keyword analysis of

Why is this keyword good?

  • It’s searched often (1,900 times per month in the US)
  • It closely relates to our services (SEO copywriting services)
  • The majority of clicks come from organic searches, not ads
  • The general “volume trend” is getting more popular with time
  • It’s a topic we can write on with authority 

Why is this keyword not good?

It’s very competitive. It has a “keyword difficulty” of 66/100.

At the time of writing this, our domain authority isn’t high enough to compete effectively for this term. 

That said, because the topic is so central to our services, it is worth targeting. 

But, if you do not have the resources to invest in content for competitive and non-competitive topics, start with non-competitive (as long as the topic is relevant). 

This way, you can rank well without having to wait years for your first taste of organic traffic.

OK, now that we have a focus keyword, it’s time to find some secondary keywords. 

Secondary keywords” are associated keywords to your focus keyword. They have a similar “search intent” to the focus keyword.

Most keyword research tools will have a “view all” function after you type a specific keyword that you can use to find these.

list of secondary keywords for the focus keyword

You can also type in close variations, in this case, “seo copy.”

list of secondary keywords for the focus keyword

Here are three secondary keywords we ended up using:

what is seo copywriting

how to write seo copy

seo copywriting tips

These secondary keywords have a lower search volume and are less competitive than our focus keyword.

But, they are still extremely relevant to the search intent of the focus keyword, making them good to note down.

At this point, we have an exact focus keyword and a few secondary keywords that provide us with a great overall context on what information people are looking for.

Keyword research done! 🙂

Step two: plan

Now that you have your keywords, the next step is to plan your content outline and structure. 

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Who is it specifically you’re targeting?
  • What are their goals?
  • What information is most important to them?
  • What information is lacking?

Put yourself in the position of the person typing in your keywords. 

Get in their head and figure out what’s most important to them. 

Next, Google your focus keyword (in the country you’re targeting).

searching for the keyword

Focus your attention on the top three results.

top three google search results for the keyword

Step three: write

Now it’s time to write your copy.

First and foremost, forget the terms “keyword density” and “keyword placement.” 

Just write.

Do not write to repeat your focus keyword to increase your keyword density from 2% to 4% — this is an outdated “tactic.” 

Your goal when writing SEO copy should provide the most compelling and informative content, full of value, not full of keywords.

Write “to” your keywords, like they’re a question or statement you’re responding to.

Write clearly and simply

Simple writing is good writing. Try to avoid using big words if it’s not necessary.

If you can say the same thing using a more simple word, then do so. It’s hard enough keeping people engaged today, so be sure to use simple language, especially when explaining complex topics.

Know who you’re writing to

Keep in mind who you’re writing to, and write with the appropriate tone, style, and complexity to appeal to them and keep them as engaged as possible.

Write a strong introduction

Write a concise introduction that immediately provides value.

Be very clear about what you’re saying and write directly to the primary search intent of users. You want them to think, “aha, I’ve found the exact post I wanted to read.”

Including a visual (such as a screenshot or graph) near your introduction can help with engagement.

Write expert content

If you’re writing about diabetes, have a medical doctor, or registered dietician (RD) write about it.

At least have an expert review it for factual accuracy — and publicly display this has been done, along with their credentials.

Having an expert write or review your content isn’t “required” to improve search engine positioning. Still, it does appear there’s a general trend where Google prioritizes content that experts write for “YMYL” (your money or your life) topics.

YMYL topics directly affect people’s health, happiness, and personal finances. It’s a good thing they do so people receive safe and responsible information.

Focus on the reader

Use more “Yous,” less “Is.”

You have to be putting yourself in your reader’s shoes and thinking to yourself with every word you write:

  • Will this engage them?
  • Will this solve their problems?
  • Is this sentence relevant to their needs?
  • Will they enjoy reading this?

It’s all about the reader. 

Provide value

Don’t just write to fill in spaces. 

Provide valuable links to resources, new insights your readers may not know, and actionable advice and information. But focus on the stuff that matters. 

Write conversationally

Write conversationally. SEO copy is technically writing to garner the favor of “robots,” but don’t write like a robot. Write how you speak as a human being.

When you’re writing, re-read what you write out loud and rewrite it to sound more like that. Just be sure to write more concisely than if you were speaking. 

Don’t be afraid to be yourself

Include a joke or two or a weird analogy if you want. That’s OK. It’s a good thing. Be yourself.

We all have our unique tones and style. Google wants to see this; people want to appreciate it. Don’t write like a robot and re-write what’s already written online. 

When you write, write with your brain and heart. Put a bit of flair in your words! 

Make it actionable

Your content should have a specific purpose, something actionable that serves your marketing objectives.

What is it?

Have people sign up for a free ebook?

Enquire about your services?

Make it very clear what your content’s purpose is and add calls to actions (CTAs) that help users find what you’re offering. Writing for action is called direct response copywriting.

But be subtle in the sense that you don’t want your post turning into a walking advertisement that diminishes the value readers get from the information you’re providing. 

How many words should you write for SEO?

Reviewing the top-performing results also gives you a good indication of an appropriate word count for your copy.

Despite studies showing correlations between higher word counts and more backlinks, shares, etc., I don’t necessarily recommend aiming for a high word count.

What’s better is to focus on providing the exact amount of information necessary to cover the topic in the most comprehensive manner. 

Comprehensive ≠ more words.

Often, less is more. 

Write what’s needed, and don’t aim to hit arbitrary word counts.

Instead, focus on the larger picture of becoming an authoritative and trusted source of information in your industry.

Step four: edit

Editing is an important step often overlooked. 

You should have a specific step in place in your content development process for editing.

If you go to a restaurant and find hair in your food, you’re put off eating the food, regardless of the food’s quality.

The same can be said for writing. Regardless of the content’s message, if it’s full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, it’s going to “taste” less good. 

While a spelling mistake or two is not the end of the world, you should aim to keep your writing error-free. 

Spelling and grammar aren’t a direct ranking factor for SEO like backlinks, but too many errors are bad for user experience.

User experience affects multiple metrics that are direct ranking factors. So it’s important not to ignore the importance of publishing error-free content.

Tools like Grammarly can help you check for errors and improve your content’s readability by monitoring things like active and passive voice (use more active).

editing software called Grammarly showing spelling and grammatical mistakes

The premium version also has a good plagiarism checker. Plagiarized content is something you want to avoid for SEO (and your reputation, of course).

I recommend hiring a professional editor. 

Editing goes beyond just checking for spelling and grammar. 

A good editor will: 

  • Check for spelling and grammatical mistakes 
  • Cut down lengthy sentences.
  • Ensure your tone and style is right 
  • Improving the flow of your writing
  • Check for logical inconsistencies and logical errors

It may seem like a “waste” of money to hire an editor when you could just hit publish after it’s written.

Still, it pays for itself in the long-term, especially if you’re aiming to produce increasingly large quantities of content and maintain a strong reputation for your brand.

9 SEO copywriting tips

Before you hit publish, it’s worth spending some time optimizing your copy for “on-page SEO”. 

We’ve already done this to some degree by selecting specific keywords and writing compelling content.

Still, there are a few other things worth doing to give your content the best possible chance at ranking well.

1. Include external links

External links point to domains outside your own. 

It’s good practice to include some external links in your content, especially to authoritative websites. 

But don’t overdo it.

The primary reason you should include external links is to add value to users. 

So when you’re citing a scientific study or something like this, don’t hesitate to link out of your domain — just be sure the source is authoritative, relevant, and useful.

2. Include internal links

Internal links are links pointing to pages within your domain and are crucial for SEO. 

Internal links help establish a hierarchy of importance within your website architecture.

They also allow users to navigate around your website. 

Use the “dofollow” tag for your internal links so “link equity” is transferred through them. 

When you link to a page, try to use an “anchor text” similar to the focus keyword of the page you’re targeting. 

For example, here’s a post with some content writing tips.

“Content writing tips” is the anchor text because that’s what the article is on. 

It’s good practice to use keyword-rich anchor text. Using “click here” as the anchor text fails to give search engines clear context about the topical relationship between your pages.

3. Use descriptive URLs

Write a descriptive and straightforward URL. 

Use your focus keyword as your URL or a secondary keyword with the same search intent as your focus keyword to keep things simple. 

A good URL is one that concisely describes what the page is about and its purpose, clarifying what one can expect by clicking on it. Using a keyword does just that.

For example, we used our focus keyword in the URL of this post.

However you decide to structure your URLs (you can use your full title too if you want), keep the format consistent across your posts. 

4. Write great meta tags

Meta title

Write a clear website title under 60 characters (including your brand name) and try to place your focus keyword near the beginning or at the beginning of your title.

meta title for the keyword seo copywriitng

If you can include a secondary keyword in your title, then go for it.

For example, in this article, our meta title starts with the focus keyword “seo copywriting” and then ends with “how to write seo copy,” a secondary keyword with similar search intent.

Both keywords work synergistically to form a coherent tile that accurately describes the content in the post. 

That said, if you can’t manage to combine two of your keywords to form an excellent title, don’t stuff keywords in there.

Write the best title possible for users typing in your focus keyword. 

You should generally be able to include your focus keyword or a very close version of it in there. 

Meta description

Write an enticing meta description that makes people want to click on your post.

Keep it between 50 to 160 characters.

meta description for the keyword seo copywriitng

Include your focus keyword or secondary keyword in your meta description. 

But if you can’t naturally fit it in, then don’t worry about it, as it’s not going to directly affect SEO in the same way as your meta title. 

Write a meta description like ad copy, and focus on making it as compelling as possible, keyword or no keyword.

5. Make your content “skimmable”

Make your content skimmable and snackable. 

  • Bold key phrases 
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists 
  • Use subheadings
  • Write shorter, sharper sentences
  • Break up paragraphs to 1-4 lines

Do whatever you can to make the same information easier to absorb.

6. Optimize image SEO

Image SEO is an overlooked part of writing SEO-optimized copy. 

Images related to what you’re writing about (such as screenshots in this post) are great for engagement. 

Optimizing images can make your content more friendly for those with disabilities (such as the visually impaired) and reduce page loading times.

File size

  • Large images can reduce the loading speed of your site, which can diminish user experience
  • Resize your images before uploading them to be as small as possible without compromising quality

File format

  • Use JPEGs over PNGs, as they are smaller

Alt tags

  • Write alt tags to describe your images as if you were explaining them to a blind person out loud.
  • A good tactic is to write “This is an image of” describe it, and remove the “this is an image of”. Credit to Joshua Harwick from Ahrefs for this idea!
  • If you can use a focus keyword or a secondary keyword naturally in this description, then do so

Filename

  • Use a descriptive filename, preferably with a focus keyword or secondary keyword relevant to the primary search intent, but again don’t force it.

Titles

  • Title your image. It can just be the same as your filename or something very similar.

Captions

  • If you think it will help with user experience, add a caption to briefly describe your image(s) 

7. Set external links to open in a new page

Set outbound links to open in a new tab. 

The reason for this mainly comes down to user experience. 

If you open external links on the same page, this increases the probability a user will leave your website. 

If they open the external page in a new tab, yours will still be open – extending the total duration they spend on your page. 

If you’re using WordPress, you can do this with a plugin.

8. Write original content

It’s okay to include quotes from other sources and cite credible sources to add value to your content.

But if you copy and paste content, it’s not going to rank. Google is smart. 

I already know you know not to do copy and paste content and claim it as your own. Still, I had to include this point here as it’s such a fundamental one.

Cite your sources when you take ideas that aren’t your own. You’ll be surprised how much this can help with exposure.

9. Improve page speed

Slow websites suck for user experience.

Improving website speed doesn’t necessarily directly lead to SEO improvements.

However, since speedy pages keep people engaged, slow pages negatively affect metrics that directly affect SEO, such as pages per visit. 

You may not be in a position to be the one who makes the technical changes to website speed.

Still, it’s worth bringing up to the person who does if your page speed is holding back the performance of the content you’re publishing.

You can check page performance at PageSpeed Insights

You’ll get a score out of 100 for desktop and mobile, plus a list of what is causing performance deficits.

testing page speed performance with google's pagespeed insights

The bottom line

That sums up how to write SEO copy.

SEO copywriting is a great skill to develop. When you apply it consistently to the content you write, it can provide a massive investment return.

But it’s a long-term play. 

It snowballs!

Meaning your results will get exponentially better with time. 

But you must remain patient and focus on providing value to your target audience for the keywords they’re searching (even if you’re not getting results in the short term). 

Do that consistently, and the traffic will follow.

Last updated 11:20 pm October 1st, 2021

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