When you’re trying to establish a brand presence online, the biggest obstacle to climb over is the difficulty of gaining exposure. While you may have something unique and valuable to bring to the table, that doesn’t mean much of anything if no one even knows it exists. A huge portion of web traffic comes through search engines like Google, which means you’ll lag behind if you don’t optimize your content to rank favorably.
SEO Copywriting is all about designing content in order to play nice with these search engines, and having a solid understanding of how to adjust your writing for optimal results is critical if you want to stand out in a sea of competition. There are a lot of factors that combine for quality SEO, and it can be difficult to get your footing when you’re first getting started.
But worry not — we’ve compiled a complete guide to optimizing content so you can boost your copywriting skills to the top of the front page!
Before we dive into the specifics of how to optimize content for SEO, let’s first talk a bit about what search engine optimization actually entails.
Website traffic lives and dies by its ranking on Google with very few exceptions. The fact of the matter is that the majority of website visitors will reach your site through some sort of web search rather than by typing in your URL directly. Thus, it’s important that you do everything you can to make your content as visible in these searches as possible — bringing SEO copywriting into play.
The specifics of Google’s search algorithm are closely guarded secrets, making it very difficult to game the system. However, there are some research-backed elements of SEO best practices that allow a skilled copywriter to boost their content past the competition.
Google’s approach to page rankings has grown and evolved over time, but we can generally break the algorithm down into two broad aspects: Relevance and Authority.
Because Google makes the lion’s share of their income through targeted advertisements, they have a vested interest in providing the most accurate search results.
You may have heard of the idea of “keywords,” and this is one of the main ways that Google determines relevance. With carefully selected words or phrases with appropriate levels of search traffic, SEO copywriters can demonstrate to search engine web crawlers that their content is more valuable than the competition, and therefore deserving of a better ranking in results.
A major part of SEO copywriting is establishing relevance with better keyword utilization than the competition.
In the early days of Google’s climb to dominance, it was possible to boost rankings by “keyword stuffing” in order to trick the algorithm into favoring a page more highly. In 2019, that no longer works. Relevance is important, but Google wants to provide results that are both relevant and as valuable as possible. That value comes from the page authority.
There are multiple factors that come into play when it comes to establishing a website as an authority, but the biggest tip we can provide is to approach content writing with the idea of providing as much value as possible rather than trying to outplay the system. There are some tips to keep in mind such as building up backlinks from other well-respected sites, but the overall idea is to write quality content with a natural flow and integration of keywords.
Now that we’ve established what SEO actually is, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how to optimize content for SEO.
Optimizing SEO to compete with large corporations on competitive keywords is an incredibly nuanced process that takes a good amount of skill to execute correctly — so much so that partnering with a quality SEO agency may be advisable in certain situations. However, a mastery of the key aspects of optimal copywriting will take your content from zero to hero and allow you to dominate your niche.
The following sections should give you a complete primer to get you well on your way toward creating optimized content that keeps your brand visible.
The first part of SEO should start long before you sit down to start writing content. Since Google values relevance so highly, it’s important that you nail down one or more keywords that relate to your content and have the appropriate amount of search traffic.
We say “appropriate” rather than “maximum,” because the reality of the situation is that every other website is fighting for rankings as well. A small boutique trying to compete with mega retailers on the keyword “dress” will struggle to establish authority due to the intense competition, while they might see much better results with a more focused keyword like “vintage wedding dresses on Long Island.”
So how do you find these keywords? There are multiple tools online that can give you a sense of the type and degree of traffic specific phrases receive — chief of which being Google Keyword Planner. Find a couple of keywords that are relevant to the page and where you have the authority to compete, and you’ll be all set to start writing.
Even if your page ranks at the top of the search results, you’ll be competing with other sites on the page as well. Many more people will read your title than will actually read the content, so it’s important that you choose a title that pops off the page and ideally features your chosen keyword.
The meta description is the snippet of text below the page title in search results. This small paragraph serves two key purposes: it helps Google get an initial impression of the site while also providing information for users that can entice them to click.
An optimal meta description is a concise peek at the page content between 150-160 words with some degree of keyword integration.
In its current iteration, the Google search algorithm cares far less about sites that maximize keyword usage due to its improved ability to recognize authoritative and relevant content.
With that said, it’s important that you use keywords neither excessively or too sparsely. It’s difficult to give a specific number (although many writers aim for somewhere between 1-3%), but it’s far more critical that keywords be used in a way that naturally flows within the document.
Once you’ve found good keywords and have written a solid title, meta description, and quality content, it’s time to look at page linking.
Since Google ranks pages more favorably based on their links from other authoritative sites, it’s important to both naturally link to other pages on your site within the body of the text while promoting your content elsewhere.
One of the best ways to get backlinks is to create high-quality content that other websites will reference, while also keeping the content as “shareable” as possible to maximize social media reach.
Once you’ve placed these links and have built up content across your site and around the web, you should start to see your rankings naturally rise.
If there’s one main takeaway to this guide, it’s that the name of the game for SEO is relevance and authority, and these key aspects are a means to an end. Google rewards websites with valuable content, so keep your quality high while keeping this guide in mind to bring about that rankings boost and edge out the competition.
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