SEO Copywriting Tips to Help Your Website Rank Better
Post updated: 20/06/2018.
SEO copywriting is the art of writing content that ranks well in search engines. Whereas SEO copywriting techniques improve the visibility of your content and draw people in, persuasive copywriting convinces them to stay on the page and fulfil a call to action (and thus reducing your website’s bounce rate).
These 61 SEO copywriting tips and strategies will make the pages on your website more ‘crawlable’ to search engines while engaging readers in your information or sales messages. The techniques described in this post can be applied to all manner of content on the web, including landing pages, blog posts, press releases and sales pages to name a few.
Of course, you’re not expected to squeeze every single one of these SEO copywriting tips into each page. Only focus on the strategies that naturally lend themselves to your subject matter and content goals.
1. Quality Content Should Always Come First
SEO without great content to back it up is pretty redundant. Begin by crafting your content and then revisiting it to see which SEO copywriting tips you can add in to improve its value. This way, you ensure that your pages deliver the best reader and search engine experience possible.
2. Use Natural Language
The days of the ‘write for people vs write for search engines’ debate are truly over. You should always write for your audience first, using natural language that appeals to their demographic.
3. Make Your Content Unique
In case you haven’t heard, Google hates duplicate content. Copying and pasting chunks of text from one part of your website to another is a big no-no. Always make sure that your content is original and unique.
A great free tool for checking for duplicate content is Siteliner.
Siteliner is a free duplicate content checker
4. Attract the Right People
There’s a lot to be said about attracting the right type of reader to your website. Promote your content in the wrong place and you’ll attract the wrong type of customer. Use a customer profiling template to identify exactly who your target audience is.
5. Speak Directly to Your Customer
One of the most effective SEO copywriting tips is to speak directly to the customer in an active voice in the second person, i.e. ‘you’. Fully engage your readers by making them feel like your copy is speaking only to them.
6. Choose a Readable Font
Nothing puts a reader off more than a web page that’s difficult to read. It’s often suggested that the ideal font for a blog post is a Serif font at 16 point.
7. Use Primary Keywords and Phrases
A primary keyword or keyphrase is the main word(s) that you want your content to rank for in search engines. It’s important to keep your principal keyword in mind when writing your meta information, page headline and subheadings.
However, don’t try and shoehorn your keyword into your content, only use them if it feels natural and reads well.
8. Include Long-Tail Keyphrases
Very specific long-tail keyword phrases often don’t show up in keyword research tools and they may only get searched for once every 2-3 months, but they’re important nonetheless. It’s estimated that 40% of searches consist of phrases made up of 4 words or more.
9. Add in Secondary Keywords
Secondary keywords are those that relate to the primary keyword in some way but still stand as an independent phrase on their own.
For example, secondary key terms of the phrase ‘Why should I keep fit?’ might be ‘how to keep fit’ or ‘ways to keep fit’.
10. Use Synonyms
Synonyms are words that mean exactly or nearly the same thing as the primary keyword. For example, synonyms of the phrase ‘why should I keep fit?’ might be ‘should I keep fit?’ or ‘keeping fit’.
11. Pay Attention to Keyword Density
This one’s a bit controversial (depending on who you ask) but keyword density may still have a part to play in the SEO equation. Keyword density refers to the number of times that a keyword appears on a page and can be a good way to check for keyword stuffing.
One of my personal SEO copywriting tips is to aim for a keyword density between 1.5 – 2%. A great tool for checking the density of a page of content is SEO Book’s keyword density checker.
SEO Book’s free keyword density checker
12. Write Persuasive Meta Descriptions
One of my top SEO copywriting tips is to focus on meta descriptions. These are the snippets of text that appear underneath a website page title in search engines.
Meta descriptions should be a maximum of 160 characters in length (with spaces) and ideally contain a keyword or phrase (without stuffing).
It’s often said that click-through-rate (CTR) is more important than keyword placement in meta descriptions. In any case, you should always aim to persuade people to click through to your page by using persuasive language.
Meta descriptions should be persuasive and provide context
13. Use Keyword-Rich Page Titles
This is the text that appears in the tab of your web browser when you visit a page.
Titles should be a maximum of 60 characters in length (with spaces) and include primary keyphrases where possible. For example, you might write a page title for an article entitled ‘Why Should I Keep Fit’ as:
Why Keep Fit | Keeping Fit | How to Keep Fit
You should also aim to place your most relevant keywords towards the beginning of a page title to reinforce its authority.
Page titles should contain secondary keyphrases or related search terms
14. Craft Intriguing Headlines
Although keyword-rich headlines are important, they shouldn’t be used in favour of a clever or intriguing title that persuades people want to click through. Remember, only 20% of people read beyond the headline, so make it count.
Only 20% of people read the body copy
15. Give Your Content ‘Eye-Appeal’ with Subheadings
Subheadings are used to separate the body copy in your content and to introduce the next point in your text.
They can contain relevant keywords but shouldn’t be forced if it’s unnecessary. Subheadings should add to the flow of content, not disrupt it.
Use subheadings to make your content more readable
16. Write in Short Paragraphs
There’s nothing more off-putting to a reader than a whole block of text with no spaces. Writing in short paragraphs is the most effective way to write on the web as it provides ‘eye relief’ throughout the page. Short paragraphs are easily digestible and can be skimmed over at a glance. Visual layout is the key.
17. Make Your Copy Digestible
According to research carried out by the Neilsen Group, 79% of readers skim content online, whereas only 16% read every word. It’s therefore important to consider how you ‘present’ your copy to your readers, i.e. in small chunks.
18. Bigger is Sometimes Better
It’s often said that the ideal length of a blog post is 1,600 words and takes 7 minutes to read.
Although this doesn’t need to be a hard and fast rule, longer blog content does tend to rank better than shorter posts. The same can also be said for sales pages.
19. Pay Attention to Site Architecture
Site architecture or page structure helps Google determine the most important parts of a web page. A header tag is a piece of html code that looks like this:
and is used to format headlines and subheadings.
When using a WYSIWYG editor like in WordPress, header tags are automatically added when you choose the ‘header format’ options.
Ideally, a page should be structured using header tags like this:
- H1 – Main Page title
- H2 – Primary subheadings
- H3 – Secondary subheadings
- H4 – Less significant headings (bullet lists etc.)
20. Name Your Images Properly
One of my essential SEO copywriting tips is to name your image files. Naming your JPG or PNG files can help your visual content appear in Google image searches.
For example, an image of a calculator should be named calculator.jpg, rather than a series of numbers like 98324840.jpg or anything else that doesn’t correspond to the image itself.
21. Remember Your Image Alt Text
Whereas humans can see images and interpret them, search engines can’t – they need to read the alternative text you provide.
Alt text is shown when an image does not display properly on a page – it should describe what is happening in the image.
Alt text should be written as if being described to someone with their eyes closed
22. Don’t Skip the Image Description
Adding descriptions to your images adds to the page content, which can help your page rankings if you include relevant keywords.
When a visitor carries out an image search in google and selects an image, it’s the description that is used to determine its relevancy.
23. Caption Your Images
Image captions provide an opportunity to include some relevant keywords alongside an image.
With image captions, it’s important to create natural-sounding sentences that provide context relevant to the page content.
People tend to scan images and read their captions before they read content, so image captions can help provide context quicker.
24. Create Internal Links
One of the most effective on-page SEO copywriting tips out there is to focus on creating internal links. Directing anchor text links from one page to another helps Google crawl your website.
It’s important to ‘go deep’ with your internal linking and to make sure that every page on your site is being linked to from another. Be careful not to use the same anchor text over and over again though, or you run the risk of keyword stuffing.
25. Link Out
Creating external links from your content can help give your web pages authority. Google recognises external links as providing sources, references and other useful information, so remember to share the link love.
26. Pay Attention to Your URL Structure
The structure of a web page’s URL can be an influencing factor in how crawlable a website is.
URLs that contain target keywords do still generally perform better than those without but they shouldn’t look like they’ve been unnaturally stuffed.
Best practice dictates that URLs should be easy to read by humans, using hyphens rather than other characters to separate individual words. Research suggests that the URLs of Google’s top ranked pages contain an average of 37 characters.
Image source: https://moz.com/blog/15-seo-best-practices-for-structuring-urls
27. Don’t Forget to Include a Sitemap
Sitemaps enable search engines to crawl all the pages on a website and to index them quickly when they change.
Every website should have a sitemap that provides a structured list of every page on the domain. Sitemaps can be in XML, RSS, or Atom formats and should be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools when complete.
28. Include Social Sharing Buttons
Social sharing buttons enable readers to share the content on your website quickly and easily.
Google likes to see web pages that encourage social sharing on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus.
They’re an essential element of an optimized web page and encourage citations to your site.
29. Add Reviews to Your Product Pages
If your website sells products, enable customers to leave star-rating reviews and comments on each item. As well as acting as social proof for other people, Google understands the difference between five stars and one star and will reward your product pages accordingly.
Customer reviews help Google determine the popularity of a website or product
30. Use a Conversational Tone of Voice
Sometimes big words cloud your reader’s understanding. Sales copy in particular should be written using simple, unambiguous language so your customers know exactly what you’re offering.
People react positively to friendly, simple language. Speak to your customers directly using ‘you’ and ‘I’ rather than ‘they’ and ‘us’.
31. Relate to Your Customers
The most effective copy empathises. Let your customers know that you understand their issue and that you’ve been there yourself or have met others in their situation. Follow this up by telling them about how you can help.
32. Practice A/B Testing
One of the best SEO copywriting strategies is A/B testing. There’s nothing wrong with a little trial and error. In fact, most newly published landing pages aren’t based on anything other than existing copywriting knowledge and crossed fingers.
It’s not until your pages starts to provide you with insights that you can start to measure the effectiveness of your content.
A/B testing is the practice of comparing two landing pages aimed at fulfilling the same action. By splitting your website traffic between two versions of the same page, you’re able to measure the performance of each and determine which one performs the most effectively.
You’ll want to focus on metrics like conversion rates, sales and bounce rates to give you a good overview of each page’s performance. For more information on A/B testing, check out this video from online marketing platform Kentico:
33. Offer Incentives
Creating a tone of urgency in your copywriting can really help encourage people to buy from you.
And nothing creates urgency more effectively than scarcity.
By explaining to your customers that your stock is limited or that your offer is only available for the next few days, you’ll improve the chances of them buying from you there and then rather than postponing the purchase.
34. Remove Risk
Whenever customers make a purchase, they take on a certain amount of risk: they might not like the product once they receive it, it might not fit or perhaps it wasn’t what they were looking for after all?
One way you can remove this risk is to offer a money back guarantee or a warranty that ensures your customer won’t lose out if they don’t like your product.
35. Don’t Believe the Hype
We’re not talking Public Enemy here; we’re talking unnecessary adjectives and exaggerated claims. Over the years, people have become savvy to over-hyped products and services.
The best way to capitalise on people’s interest is to avoid using any hype words at all. Try to keep your copy as transparent as possible and don’t make any outlandish claims.
36. Use Embedded Sales Language
Embedded sales language can be worked into your copy as a suggestive trigger for your customers to buy. One of the most discreet yet effective SEO copywriting techniques, embedded language can be used to persuade customers to carry out your call to action.
An example of embedded sales language for a fitness product might go something like this:
‘Imagine how proud you’ll feel, trying on those jeans 12 weeks from now. Visualise yourself celebrating with your friends and family. Your success starts here. Our home multi-gym provides you with everything you need to make your dreams reality.’
37. Emphasise Your Reader’s Freedom to Choose
No-one likes being aggressively sold to. By making it clear in your copy that the reader has a choice in whether or not to buy your product or service, you transfer the power over to them. With the ball in their court, they’re far more likely to feel at ease, which means they’re more likely to buy.
38. Use Emotive Language
One of the most tried and tested SEO copywriting tips is to use emotive language. Unless your customers feel an emotional connection to your product or service, they’re unlikely to buy. Appeal to your customers’ emotions by tugging at their heart strings or empathising with their situation. Words like ‘love’, ‘guarantee’ and ‘effective’ can all stir up the right kind of emotions that encourage people to buy.
39. Be Transparent in Your Copy
People can normally tell if they’re being deceived. Show your true colours by being honest about your company, products and service. People love a good story, so take them on a journey and explain how your services can make their lives better by using case studies and testimonials from past customers.
40. Write a Clear Call to Action
Keeping the language in your sales copy simple also makes it easier for readers to understand your call to action. What do you want your customers to do after reading your copy? Is the message clear enough? This is one of the most important parts of your copy as it instructs your customers to act.
Calls to action should use a tone of urgency and tell your customers exactly what you want them to do next.
41. Include Social Proof
Use testimonials, statistics, survey results, case studies and success stories to add credibility to your product and believability in your brand.
42. Sell on the Benefits
Benefits sell, features close. Explain how your product will enhance your reader’s life or how it will solve a problem. The more detail you can provide, the more convincing your copy will be.
43. Close on the Features
Does your product make use of the latest state-of-the-art technology? Great, tell your customers all about it towards the end of your copy, just don’t make it your opening sales pitch.
44. Use Copywriting Formulas
SEO Copywriting formulas can help you structure the content on your page, particularly if you’re delivering a sales message. My personal favourite formulas are:
- Social Proof
- Call to Action
- Call to Action
45. Offer an Enticing Guarantee
Without a doubt, the best guarantee you can offer customers is 100% money back. By offering your product at no risk, you will create a lot of trust from your audience and instill them with confidence that your product or service is the best on the market. A persuasive guarantee could go something like this:
‘You don’t need to decide now if this product is for you. Just buy it and see how it works. If it doesn’t do everything you expect and more, just let us know and we’ll give you a full refund! This way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.’
46. Explain Your Unique Selling Point
This is the one specific benefit that differentiates your product or service from all the others. Try to explain your USP in one or two sentences – the simpler the message, the better.
47. Eliminate the Competition
Eliminate your competitors by giving your target audience the information they need to see that your product or service is superior – state why your product or service is exceptional and more effective than your competitors’.
48. Build Value
To build value in your service, you have to let your readers know that your offer is so good, that they simply can’t afford not to take action. One way of achieving this is to focus on how much value for money your product offers.
49. Tell a Story
Storytelling increases customer engagement, demonstrates problem solving and creates emotional connection. People love a good story and once they start reading, they’re likely to continue until the end.
50. Update Your Content Regularly
One of the most over-looked SEO copywriting strategies is updating your content regularly. Revisiting old web pages and updating them with more up-to-date content can be a great way of improving your page rankings. SEO copywriting is an ongoing process and you should actively make tweaks to older posts in order to keep them relevant.
51. Make Use of Different Types of Media
Google likes web pages to offer more than just text. Try to include relevant images, infographics and videos within your content to increase its authority.
52. Keep Pop-Ups to a Minimum
Over-using pop-ups achieves two things. Firstly, it annoys your visitors and they leave (which increases your bounce rate), and secondly, it annoys Google. Of course, pop-ups do have their place in website design but just make sure you’re not using them everywhere, all the time.
53. Create an Effective 404 Page
Occasionally, visitors to your website will be faced with a 404 error. ‘Page Not Found’ messages normally occur when a web page can’t be found on the server or has been removed.
In most cases, when a visitor comes across a 404 message, they hit the ‘back’ button on their browser and your bounce rate increases. A friendly 404 page that redirects the visitor to an interesting piece of content however, encourages them to stay on the site.
54. Optimize Your Page Load Speed
If a web page takes too long to load, visitors click back and visit the next site in their search results. This is known as ‘pogo-ing’ or ‘pin-balling’ and can have devastating effects on your bounce rate. Make sure your site loads quickly by reducing the size of the images on your site and deleting any unused plugins.
55. Proofread Your Content
Google likes nothing more than grammatically sound, error-free content, so you should always proofread your copy before you publish it. Websites that continually publish poorly-written content will in all likelihood be penalised by Google.
56. Start a Swipe File
Only inexperienced copywriters write from scratch. A swipe file is a collection of copywriting ‘examples’ that you’ve seen online and find particularly interesting or effective. Swipe files can provide copywriters with inspiration in times of need.
A great free tool for compiling your swipe file is Evernote.
Evernote: a great tool for creating copywriting swipe files
57. Curate Content Into a Guide
Creating a dedicated landing page specifically to categorise useful articles can be a great way of adding SEO value to your site. ‘Best of’ posts that link internally to your existing content can provide a great opportunity to rank for a single competitive keyword in your industry.
58. Leverage Influencers in Your Niche
Within your content, try to make reference to posts, quotes or tweets made by influential people in your industry then let them know that you mentioned them. If your content is valuable, there’s a good chance that those influencers will share it through their own channels, thus increasing your backlinks and exposure.
59. Steal Your Competitors’ Backlinks
Investing in a paid SEO tool like SEMRush or AhRefs can provide you with valuable information about your competitors’ backlink profile. Download a list of their backlinks and ‘steal’ them one-by-one using Brian Dean’s Skyscraper technique. PR software company, Respona, also have a good beginner’s guide to the skyscraper technique that can help get you started.
Paid SEO tools can be great for mining your competitors’ backlinks
60. Fix Broken Links on Your Site
Broken links aren’t good for SEO. Using an SEO tool like Screaming Frog, crawl your website for dead or broken links and fix or remove them to keep in Google’s good books.
61. Allow Robots.txt
Robots.txt is a text file that instructs Google robots to index your site. Make sure that you don’t have any disallowed pages that should be indexed, as they won’t be crawled by Google bots and therefore won’t show up in search results.
If you need help with SEO copywriting, drop me an email to discuss your project.
Have you had any success with these SEO copywriting tips? Do you have any of your own SEO copywriting secrets to add to the list? Share your thoughts and strategies in the comments below.