When it comes to SEO copywriting, there are no longer any shortcuts. Gone are the days when you could outsmart your competitors with endless content variations stuffed with every imaginable keyword.
And thank the digital gods, because content suddenly got a lot more interesting — for writers and readers alike.
Today, SEO content writing is considerably more complex, but also more genuine. The latest search algorithms are savvy enough to know when you’re giving your audience a good (and informative) experience. And they reward you accordingly.
1. Understanding your user is more important than adding a ton of keywords
Once upon a time, planning a page of search-optimized content involved doing a lot of keyword research. Writers and SEOs created lists upon lists of relevant keyword variations, then figured out how to write copy around them.
While we still love keywords (oh how we love them) planning a page of SEO content today is more about understanding what your targeted audience is searching for. What’s their journey? What questions do they need answered, and what are the most relevant solutions to their problems? In other words, make your content useful and the rest will follow.
Today’s search engine algorithms are savvy enough to discern whether content is contextually relevant to a user’s query. So yes, you should still be including top searched keywords, but you should also write about a topic in enough depth to include words and phrases that are closely related to your topic.
Creating useful content that answers a searcher’s needs serves two purposes: it already naturally contains all kinds of contextually relevant keywords and phrases that are relevant to your main topic; and because your article is useful, it stands a better chance of being shared and linked to — double whammy.
Understanding what your audience needs, and knowing now to meet those needs is pure content strategy. Don’t be intimidated by the s-word: it simply means that you take a little time to know your audience before you sit down to write — something we all should be doing more of.
2. Think more about intent-focused phrases, less about individual keywords
When you do get down to creating keyword lists, cluster your keyword groups based on user intent — in other words, what the searcher is trying to accomplish when she types or speaks a search query. Remember that people don’t search on individual keywords anymore. More often, they’re speaking into their phone with full-sentence voice queries.
For example, if you’re a shoe repair shop, a prospective customer is less likely to type “shoe repair” into her desktop computer. She is more likely to use a voice search query such as “who repairs broken heels in Sausalito?” The query will be colloquial, local and very specific.
SEO copywriting is about crafting contextually relevant content about your business and how it can help people find what they need. Map out your customer’s journey: where is she, what does she need, and how does she ask a search engine to help? Then identify and integrate the phrases that she is likely to use to find what she needs.
3. Give your readers a good experience
Google doesn’t need to ask “was it good for you?” when a user clicks on a search result. The engine knows already, based on metrics that indicate whether a user stayed and enjoyed your content, or peeked and walked away.
To give searchers the information and experience they are looking for, search engines prioritize pages with metrics that show user engagement — in other words, high clickthrough rates, longer dwell time (time on site) and a low bounce rate.
As a SEO content writer, how do you turn these metrics to your favour? Not surprisingly, it comes down to two things:
A) Enticing (and honest) meta titles and descriptions: Take time to write meta titles and descriptions that speak to a searcher’s needs. Tell them up front why they should click and how you are going to answer their question or solve their problem.
What are a meta title and description? They’re little pieces of copy that live in the header of each web content page. The meta title appears in the tab of your browser. It’s also what searchers see when your page appears in the search results. All content management systems provide fields for copywritten and optimized meta titles and descriptions.
Need an example? Here’s one of our lovingly crafted search result titles and descriptions:
B) High quality content that delivers: Once you entice someone to click, you need to deliver content that meets (or better yet, exceeds) visitors’ expectations. Lately SEO writers have been crafting longer, more information rich content. These pieces are more likely to keep the reader engaged; they also contain more contextually relevant keyword phrases — two things the engines tend to like.
Write well, write often, and watch your metrics
It’s no longer the case that writers can just write and not worry about their website metrics. Website copywriting, especially when SEO is one of its objectives, needs to be part of a content creation feedback loop informed by your analytics. Data will teach you a lot about what works, and what doesn’t for both the search engines and your audience. Give your SEO content enough time to generate statistically relevant data, then check in, monitor it and adjust accordingly.
Share the love to earn SEO love
In other words, to win at SEO in 2018 forget about crafting perfectly optimized, overly keyworded content pieces. Just write well about what you know best. Provide solid, in-depth information about your topic, then make sure you’ve covered all the relevant keywords.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEO Analyst @ Bloom