There’s little point in attracting Search Engine traffic if the page doesn’t convert traffic into sales or writing brilliant copy that is not indexed on the first few pages of Search Engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Here are seven basic SEO copywriting tips based on the SEOmoz Search Engine Ranking Factors 2009 report.
Keyword selection and density
Choosing the correct primary keyword, secondary keywords or keyword phrases is paramount to the optimisation of your website. One of the major mistakes a SEO copywriter can make is ‘keyword stuffing’ which means that you are using keywords too frequently or out of context which the Search Engines can perceive as spamming and trying to manipulate organic SEO results. This may lead to your Search Engine ranking dropping or your website not being indexed by Search Engines.
Read our article ‘Search Engine Keywords’ for more details on how to improve your keyword strategy and select the right keywords or keyword phrases to optimise your website.
Creating unique content that is updated constantly helps build your link profile and increase your Search Engine rankings. 65% of the SEOmoz panel of 72 experts rated unique content as of very high importance. Five ways to create fresh, unique content are:
- create a company blog and write bi-weekly posts to refresh your content about industry news, tips and hints and so forth;
- publish a weekly or monthly newsletter offering your own tips, tips from customers, sale items, giveaways and so on;
- add media releases or marketing material on your website such as catalogues, brochures etc;
- update your websites with recent testimonials or case studies and
- publish recent industry statistics or research on your site.
The text you use in the title tag is an important factor in how a Search Engine may decide to rank your web page. All major Search Engine crawlers will use the text of your title tag as the text they use for the title of your page in your listings. 66% of the panel rated the use of the keyword in the title tag as of very high importance. Tips to optimise your title tags are:
- Important keywords should be used towards the start of the title tag. This was rated as 63% high importance by the panel;
- Title tags should accurately reflect the content of the web page and match the meta description tag and keywords and use consistent branding;
- Word counts should be aimed at 10-12 words and about 70 characters. Not only is this the cut-off point in Google Search Engine results, it also helps to keep your title tags concisely targeted towards the most important keywords.
Meta description tags
A meta description tag is a guide for Search Engines to use as summary text when a site is listed in the search engines. SEO expert Jill Whalen says that there is some debate over whether this information is given any weight in the ranking algorithms of Google or considered by Yahoo or Bing when ranking websites. However, it is still important to include this information to describe the content of the page accurately and succinctly for web searchers and drive traffic to your website. Tips to optimise your meta description tags are:
- Try to include the keywords you are targeting in the meta description tags as these are highlighted as bold in Search Engine results.
- Give the reader an exact description of the content of your page and make it interesting and enticing for the reader to encourage them to click through to your website. The meta description serves as a short advertisement for your page.
- Write the meta description so it accurately reflects the content of the web page and matches the title and keywords. Consistency is the key.
- Word counts should be aimed at 25-27 characters which are the cut-off for Google Search Engine results.
Headings are used to define organisation structure on a web page and as a navigation or guide for the reader but they are also important for Search Engine Optimisation and telling the Search Engines what your page is about. The trick is to write powerful headings that will draw in readers but also improve your search engine ranking for your target keyword phrases. Tips for optimising headings include:
- Make sure that your primary keyword or keyword phrase is included ideally at the start of the heading. The panel rated keyword use anywhere in the H1 headline tag as 49% moderate importance.
- When targeting Search Engines, use headings which define the content rather than headings that are witty and clever but may seem obtuse to a Search Engine and may leave them confused about the exact content of the page.
- Headings should match the meta description and keywords. Aim for consistently so the Search Engines rank your web page for the right keywords and primary terms are targeted as effectively as possible.
- All content should have unique title tags and headings, this is to target different variations of keywords – as opposed to competing with itself for the same search terms.
- Use one H1 heading per page to emphasise the most important keywords on that page to the search engines.
- Use H2-H5 headings to optimise for secondary terms – make sure these are used as sub-headings.
Internal links should be used to cross-link related content – this builds the strength of webpage’s within the search engines. Tips for internal linking include:
- Internal links should be added to refer customers to others pages on the website where further information is available;
- Recent research suggests that only the first link to an internal page URL is indexed and given link value so only use your most important keyword in your link as high as possible on the page;
- Additional links can point to other pages on your website (just not the same page) which in turn can point back to your primary pages. Place your secondary keyword in your secondary link and so on;
- Don’t overuse internal links within copy, just link to a small selection of relevant pages. The fewer links you have on a page, the more value each link has;
- Make sure your anchor text contain keywords where possible. Using “keyword phrase” instead of “click here” or “read more” for example. The panel rated keywords used in internal linking anchor text as 47% moderate importance.
Don’t forget naming of images can also increase the Search Engine Optimisation of your website and can also increase your ranking on image portals such as Google Images as well. Tips for optimising images include:
- Pick a logical file name, that reinforces the keywords. For example “/images/keyword-phrase.jpg” ;
- Use a hyphen to separate keywords so that these are read by the search engines as spaces. Do not use underscores as a word separator;
- Make use of the alt attribute and optimise relevant images for targeted keywords;
- Avoid duplicate content on your site. If for example, you have a thumbnail and a full size image, you don’t want these to all be indexed. Use a robots.txt to prevent the crawler from looking at the images you don’t want indexed;
- This may be stating the obvious but don’t put the bulk of your text in images as Search Engines prefer websites that are text heavy. Look at the image-to-text ratio on your page and make sure that there is more text on the page but still conveys your message in images, diagrams and photos.
SEO copywriting can be challenging but once you get the balance right between optimising your web pages and creating engaging and compelling a copy, you can achieve a website that not only ranks highly in Search Engine rankings for the right keyword searches but also entices quality customers to click through to your website, find the information they require quickly and easily, convert visitors into customers and increase your online revenue.