Effective SEO copywriting is your winning ticket to getting more traffic and conversions.
“But can writing for the web be considered an art?”
Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me explain.
Google has nicely provided us with helpful content creation guidelines. They’re quite long, so let me summarize them for you really quick:
“Write for people, not search engines.”
Yes, this is pretty concise, but this is the essence of Google’s strategy (that’s how they present to the masses, at least). They work on making content user-friendly, so they recommend focusing on the value it provides for users.
On the other hand, there’s a plethora of keyword research tools, meta titles optimization tools, website checkers, guides on writing for SEO, and so on. Thousands of thousands of content writers, digital marketers, and researchers use it every day.
If we were to write for search engines only, these tools might not be so popular, right?
That’s the secret recipe for writing content that ranks high.
“Finding a balance,” of course, needs more details, and you’ll find them in this article. If you’re a copywriter or a digital marketer, believe me, you’ll be glad you did.
SEO Copywriting Stage 1: Research
People are often surprised by the fact that the biggest part of the copywriting process is not the actual writing. In fact, I’d say that writing is about 30 percent.
Before a copywriter gets to the point when they can produce content, they need to do a lot of creative, research-heavy work. Here are some of the most important areas to cover:
- Come up with a topic idea that interests/is relevant to the target reader
- Define search intent and create an outline accordingly
- Research keywords and make an outline
- Review the best-performing content on a similar topic
- Determine the visuals to use and places for them in the text
- Come up with LSI keywords
- Revise the search intent
- Make the final version of the topic
When the writer completes all of these tasks, they have a good understanding of how to approach the topic in a way that will make the content useful for readers as well as easy for search engines to rank.
At that point, there’s nothing to do but start doing some writing.
But we’re far from that point now. Let me get you there.
Let’s start by going over each of these tasks and explaining them in more detail.
Step 1: Come up with a topic idea that is relevant to the target audience
When it comes to content SEO optimization, an idea for a content topic always comes first. The best copywriters begin with brainstorming the topics that interest the intended reader of the article, not doing keyword research.
This part is for both the people and search engines, of course. Even though you need to come up with an idea, a raw version of the topic that interests readers, it would be fantastic if it had specific keywords in it.
For example, let’s say that you need to write a guide to selecting a laptop.
So, let’s say that you’ve chosen “How to choose a laptop” as the primary keyword combination.
(I’m using “How to choose a laptop” as an example here, so check the keyword difficulty and traffic volume by using tools like Ubersuggest to find good options).
Step 2: Define search intent
Search intent, is well, the intent behind search engine search.
The best copywriters always consider search intent before writing. This was an overlooked aspect of SEO copywriting that has become critical after Google’s BERT update.
According to the official explanation from Google, considering search intent is essential for writing reader-focused content because it helps to create texts that match the meaning of a search query better.
A comparison of search results before and after BERT update. Source: Google
This means writing words in a way that a target reader would prefer. There are a few main types of search queries that Google thinks are relevant to its users:
Know queries. These include queries starting with “What is,” “Why is,” “Who is,” “How many,” etc. Here, the user wants to find out information about something they don’t know
Action queries e.g. queries containing “near me,” “buy,” and others indicating that the user needs to act on something (buy a product, find a store, etc.)
Visit queries, e.g. those showing that the user intends to locate and possibly visit a physical location of a business (“show me the closest Starbucks,” etc.)
Website queries. Here, the main purpose is to find a website or a specific page.g. “Gmail,” “google analytics,” best buy login.”
Our primary keyword, “How to choose a laptop,” falls into the first category.
While reviewing search intent is beyond the scope of this article, the main thing to keep in mind is that you can dominate searches if you associate your content with the target phrases and keywords.
Risa Martin, a competitive analysis and keyword research expert at TopWritersReview, recommends starting simple.
“Think of your primary keyword, Google it, and see what kind of results you get. What intent do the results answer? Answer this question and adjust your content accordingly,” Martin adds.”
Step 3: Research keywords and make an outline
At this point, you’ve got a bunch of keywords you’ve found so far in your research. There’s no need to be all disorganized about it, so why not copy all of them in a single document?
When you’re done with this task, it’s time to make an outline for your amazing article.
The list of keywords is a precious resource that you’ll be using to create the outline.
Let’s suppose that you’ve found a bunch of keywords related to laptop prices (“laptops under $500”), intended users (students, gamers, etc.), date (“best laptop 2020”), and characteristics (“powerful laptops”).
The task now is to arrange all of them in a way that makes sense for human readers and search engines.
Put yourself in the shoes of your intended reader. What would you like to see first? What is irrelevant?
Here’s an example outline:
Title prototype: “How to choose a laptop”
How to choose a laptop in 2020: Laptops under $500
How to choose a laptop in 2020: Best Laptops for Games
How to choose a laptop in 2020: Laptops for Students
Excellent. The main keyword is there, along with some others. Moreover, the structure is also quite scannable, so the reader can find sections quickly.
SEO Copywriting Stage 2: Analysis
Step 4: Review the best-performing content on a similar topic
Some inspiration is always good. If you’re using a tool like Ahrefs or Ubersuggest, check out the keywords used by the articles that rank the highest for your primary keyword. If you’re doing it manually, simply Google the primary keyword and see how others did.
Step 5: Determine the visuals to use and places for them in the text
An article about laptops without images does not give the best experience for the reader, agree? This goes for any other article, too. The best SEO copywriting always considers visuals, so try to find images and include at least one per 300 words.
Sites like Pixabay are great for getting free photos, but if you need something complex, like a logo for your blog, then use a custom logo maker.
Important: always give credit to image creators and copyright owners.
Step 6: Revise the search intent
Now that you have an outline and a much better understanding of the content you’re going to write, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to revise the search intent. Let’s say, maybe you’d like to focus on the needs of a specific target reader.
For example, you decided to focus on writing an article about laptops for students, so you’d want to talk more about budget versions and/or those that come with pre-installed software for students.
A good idea is to check websites for students and include short reviews of products, too. For example, maybe some are known for better customer support or give discounts to students.
Yes, this means making more quick changes to the outline, but doing so will make your article more focused on providing actual value.
Sounds like something that Google loves, right?
SEO Copywriting Stage 3: Writing
Step 7: Make the final version of the topic
At this point, you can define the final version of the title for your article. If you decided to write your article (this is a legit guide by now, by the way!) for students, then we should tweak the primary keyword.
Original title prototype: How to choose a laptop
Final version: How to choose a laptop for students in 2020: the best options under $500.
Now it sounds like something you can write about without any confusion.
Step 8: Write!
Yes, finally. You have the title, outline, keywords, search intent, everything, so there’s nothing left but write. The best advice that I can give you here is to write in a style and language that your intended audience is comfortable with.
For example, a great way to write for students would be in a simple, conversational-like style.
Step 9: Update your Article
If you have “2020” in the title, the article will automatically be irrelevant for readers after the year ends. To avoid suffering a major blow in traffic, be sure to update the title by the end of the year and add new information to the article.
Now that you’ve made it this far, you’re ready for some serious SEO copywriting. Competitors beware!
As you can see, the actual writing starts much later than most people think, which shows once again that a talented copywriter is also a great researcher and analyzer.