If you want to grow your website’s audience, then search engine optimization (SEO) is something you cannot run away from. But while there’s near unanimity of the role SEO plays in delivering traffic to your web pages, one of the biggest challenges website owners face is creating content that’s attractive to search engine bots but also appealing to human readers.
Fortunately, it is possible. Thousands of sites have succeeded in achieving these twin goals simultaneously. You can consistently create content that’s persuasive, interesting and well-optimized. Here’s a look at the components of effective SEO copywriting.
The content of your web page may be incredibly valuable. However, if the headline isn’t similarly excellent, you’ll have a click-through rate that’s far lower than it should be. Remember that a far greater number of people will see your page’s headline in search results than those who will click and read your content.
The gap between those who stop at the headline and those who proceed to read depends on how good the headline is. The better the headline, the higher the click-through rate. Unfortunately, many website owners, bloggers and copywriters spend far more time on content than they do on the headline. Their rationale is that if the content is superb, a good headline is superfluous. This is a potentially expensive mistake.
A basic rule of SEO is to first grab people’s attention and motivate them to click to read more. Your headline is what will capture your audience’s imagination. Headlines that convey a concise, specific message connect best with visitors.
2. Meta Description
The meta description is a concise, 1-2 statement paragraph that tells search engines and Internet users what a web page is about. A meta description is what appears before the title and URL of each Google search result.
For this reason, the meta description is almost as important as the headline. People who aren’t fully convinced by the headline will read the meta description to determine whether they should click on the link. The meta description together with the headline is the first impression of your page.
To ensure the meta description is large enough to adequately capture the gist of the web page but small enough not to be truncated in the search results page preview, it should be between 50 and 160 characters long.
You don’t have to include the keyword in your meta description. While you can afford some degree of awkward phrasing in your main content, readers are unlikely to forgive any such incoherence in the meta description.
3. Content and Long-tail Keywords
Content is the central pillar of writing for SEO. The primary reason people run queries on Google and other search engines is that they are seeking for useful, relevant content. Also, search engines are drawn to fresh, SEO-optimized content.
Quality content isn’t thin or shallow. The 300-500 word pages that were kosher in the early days of SEO are woefully inadequate today. While length is no guarantee that a web page will find favor with search engines, a 1000-word blog post will be prioritized in search results compared to a 200-word piece all other factors constant.
Before you start creating content, know who your prospective readers are and what problems they seek answers to. Focus on addressing that problem so comprehensively that the reader will have no need to refer to another source. Make sure the content you write starts with a compelling introduction. The introduction should build on the captivating headline and further entice the visitor into diving deeper into the text.
4. Long-tail Keywords
Ensure your text contains relevant long-tail keywords. Make sure the keyword phrase appears in the headline and the rest of the content. Choosing the right keyword is important but it also matters how you weave it into the content.
Keyword frequency is the number of times the keyword appears on the page. For instance, if you are targeting the long-tail keyword phrase ‘best plumbers Boston’, how often should the phrase appear in your 1,500-word page?
Thanks to a number of changes to the Google search results ranking algorithm, keyword frequency may not be as important an SEO factor as it was in years past. Nevertheless, search engines still rely on keywords as one of the factors determining the relevance of a web page. To be safe, keep your keyword density at 5% or less.
Steer clear of black hat SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing. While such tactics may grant you some temporary victory, you run the risk of your website being blacklisted by Google.
5. Internal and External Links
For search engines, links are a barometer of a web page’s reputation. If your web page links to authority sites and if other credible sites link to the page, Google judges that you have content that others find useful.
There are no universal rules on linking (there are best practices though as Outreachmama explains). However, you are likely to get the most out of linking if you only link to relevant, quality pages within your site and outside.
There are plenty of dynamics outside your control that will determine how high your web page is ranked on search results. Still, adhering to these principles of SEO writing increases your chances of attracting more search engine traffic to your website.
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