SEO copywriting is usually thought of as the job of creating textual content for website pages with the proper placement of targeted SEO keywords. Although this partly answers the question of what is SEO writing, there is a lot more to it. But let’s start there, since this is the most common SEO writing task.
SEO Writing for SEO Website Pages
When a company has an SEO campaign underway, a small basket of keywords will be selected for targeted pages of the website that are the focus for optimization. (These pages tend to be the home page and service/product pages.) The targeted pages in particular must have the primary and secondary keywords woven into the text, in the proper number and position on the page. Since SEO copywriting best practices change as Google’s search algorithm evolves, the specifics of how this is accomplished can change from year to year.
Currently, in terms of number, one or two mentions of each keyword, even with slight variations, is usually sufficient to have the desired effect on Google crawlers (Googlebots). This is because Google has gotten much smarter about figuring out the essence of a web page’s content without the heavy reliance on specific keywords that it needed a decade ago. In terms of position, the page’s most important keyword should appear in the page’s H1 title, and other keywords should appear in subheads or body text toward the top of the page. Putting keywords in bold or italic may also help Googlebots understand the importance of those keywords, but the research tends to indicate such nuances don’t carry the weight they once did.
In addition to writing content from scratch for target SEO web pages, SEO copywriters will also edit existing copy, usually at the beginning of a campaign, to weave different or new keywords into the content. SEO editing may also be needed throughout the campaign, since new keywords are often tested on target pages as campaign data on rankings and conversions mount and suggests weaknesses in the results.
Internal and external links
Finally, SEO copywriters will work with links on the targeted web pages and non-targeted pages to optimize the anchor text, as well as to insert and/or remove links from the page as determined by the SEO campaign manager. Two types of links have an impact on SEO: internal (that is, links to other pages of the website), and external (links to pages on other websites).
As with keywords, SEO copywriting best practices change over time. In general, the majority of internal links should point to the most important targeted pages of the website, and too many or too few external links may have a negative impact on rankings. In terms of anchor text for links, variation is important — keywords should not be overused, as it signals to Googlebots that an effort to game the system may be underway. SEO copywriters work closely with SEO campaign managers to understand the overall strategy and page-by-page tactics for links before they set to work inserting links and/or editing anchor text.
The Importance of Quality in SEO Writing
In the early days of SEO, it was enough to include keywords in the proper number and position to achieve improved organic rankings. This is no longer the case. As Google has become better able to judge the quality of website content, SEO copywriters must master not only the technicalities of how to write for SEO, but also the many skills and techniques of standard copywriting. Furthermore, since Google (and human readers, for that matter) define quality as useful, engaging, authoritative and relevant, SEO copywriters must have adequate knowledge of the organization’s business, products and services. Without it, the website content will appear to Googlebots and human readers to be superficial and unreliable. Such content will not earn high rankings, nor will it earn conversions — the true goal of an SEO campaign — from readers.
Other Types of SEO Writing
What is SEO content? It goes well beyond the website writing and editing we’ve just discussed. Here are other important types of SEO content that require the specialized skill of an SEO copywriter:
- Title tags. Title tags are an extremely important “behind the scenes” piece of content. Title tags, visible to Googlebots and humans in browser tabs — and often in social media shares — describe the content of a web page in about 60 characters. Title tags are given great importance in Google’s search algorithm. Title tags must be unique for each page and include the page’s primary keyword toward the beginning of the tag. In addition, a title tag may include branding (e.g., the organization’s name), and some type of attention-getting message. A fair amount of skill is needed to pack all of these requirements into 60 characters.
- Meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are snippets of text, ideally fewer than 160 characters, that appear under the link on Google SERPs (search engine results pages). While meta descriptions have no direct impact on rankings, they have a strong influence on conversions, since a well-written meta description persuades search engine users to click on the link. Meta descriptions need not include keywords associated with the page, but it is often a good idea to do so.
- Image and video optimization. Optimizing images and video for Google Image and Videos search is extremely important for certain SEO campaigns. To rank well, images and videos should have keyword-optimized titles, alternate descriptions, and other technical features that help Googlebots find and index these non-HTML page elements.
- Off-site content creation. A big part of most SEO campaigns is link building. One of the surest methods of building links is to create content (with links back to your website) for other websites and blogs. Since the main objective of off-site SEO content is usually to build links, keywords may or may not be important. However, the SEO copywriter must be able to create high-quality work to gain the approval of publishers and the respect of readers. In addition, SEO copywriters must be able to handle a large number of assignments and meet deadlines.
For an SEO campaign to succeed, content must be high in quality overall and rich in characteristics specifically designed for optimization. Shortcomings in SEO writing not only weaken search engine rankings, they also have a negative effect on lead generation, online sales and brand image. It’s a good practice to carefully vet an SEO agency’s copywriting capabilities before signing on.
To review your SEO content or discuss a campaign, contact us now or call 855-883-0011.