Understanding the relationship between copy and search engine optimization is crucial to successful content marketing.
Many copywriters’ primary goals are to:
- Hook readers with compelling copy.
- Keep readers engaged.
- Serve readers the information they’re looking for.
- Subtly nudge readers towards becoming a customer.
This is the foundation of lead nurturing, which is one of the most important functions of a company blog.
What role does the copywriter play higher up in the sales funnel? When it comes to lead generation – getting eyeballs on the blog post itself – what can a writer do?
The answer is Quite a lot, actually.
Google is in the business of serving search results that are most likely to satisfy their users’ needs. The search engine giant is constantly tweaking its algorithm to this effect. Unsurprisingly, the algorithm pays a lot of attention to the content of the blog posts it crawls and indexes.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how a copywriter can compose articles that are more likely to rank on Google. These tips are based on SEO best practices as well as specialists’ interpretation of the Google algorithm’s current priorities.
Let’s get to it.
1. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
No self-respecting copywriter is deliberately going to cram a massive number of keywords into their blog post; their principles simply wouldn’t allow it. Readability is critical, and few things hurt this more than the awkward overuse of a specific phrase.
It’s good to know that Google feels the same. In fact, the company addresses the practice of “keyword stuffing” quite clearly in their documentation, warning site owners against it.
Well, what’s the right amount of keywords to use for optimal search engine placement?
Sadly, the web’s SEO boffins offer no conclusive answer here. The general feeling tends to be, “use keywords as often as possible without it sounding unnatural.”
And that would be my advice, too. As you write the article, simply keep keywords in the back of your mind. Opportunities to use them naturally will come. Or they won’t. Don’t force this. Focus on making your article readable and engaging. You can always do a keyword audit as part of your editing process.
Worth noting is that the number of times you use a particular keyword should also correlate with the length of your post. The ideal number of keywords can be expressed as a percentage of the post’s total word count. This percentage is referred to as “keyword density,” and the ideal value is considered to be between 1% – 2%.
2. Cater for User Intent
Essentially, the term refers to why a user is searching for a particular article. User intent says: “This is the role that the information will play in the reader’s customer journey.”
For illustrative purposes, let’s imagine you’re turning to Google to help you pick a mattress. Google understands that some users look for articles about mattresses because they’re looking for information – they want to know why they wake up with back pain every morning. Whereas other users have a transactional intent – they’re searching for the best mattress articles because they’re ready to buy one.
It has become increasingly important for Google to differentiate between these two types of users. Google wants to serve commercially-focused content to readers who are ready to make a purchase. It’s equally important for them not to show commercial content to readers who want information.
By implication, it’s become increasingly important for writers to align their article’s intent with those of their audience.
That brings us to the point of this section: How does a writer cater for user intent?
It all comes down to the copy that surrounds your keyword – both in the post’s title and in the content itself.
Google has found that informational blog posts typically include variations of terms like:
- How to…
- What is…
- Why does…
- Ways to…
Words signifying transactional intent are terms like:
- Free shipping
Prominently featuring words like these in appropriate blog posts ensures that your content is aligned with the user’s intent. And Google will reward you for doing this.
3. Use Keywords Early in the Post
SEO experts feel that Google rewards content that uses its primary keyword in the post’s title and introduction (the first 200 words). Doing so is a massive signal of credibility to the search engine. It’s one of the clearest indicators that the article is, in fact, what it says it’s about.
The search engine knows that writers need to get to the point early on. They know that it’s critical for a post to show what readers can expect in the first 200 words. Good writers do this because they understand the importance of engagement. Giving your readers a solid idea of the information they’re about to consume is just good writing practice that’s followed by most bloggers.
That’s why search engines pay particular attention to this component of the post. If keywords are used naturally here, they know the content can be trusted to do what it says on the box.
4. Write a Killer Headline
Your blog post’s presence in the top three Google search results doesn’t guarantee its success as a lead generator. If your competitors’ posts are simply more attractive than yours, they will win the battle for the audience’s attention.
Your post’s headline is critical in drawing a click. They have to communicate authority, credibility, and the fact that your information is exactly what the reader wants.
Why is it so important? Mainly because you can be certain that the majority of the posts around it on the results page are nailing their headlines.
You need to stand out from the crowd here. You have to incite a click, or the work that’s gone into the post itself would have been wasted.
Here are some tips to help you craft a great headline:
- Write several headlines for each article and choose the best one after finishing the article.
- If possible, use numbers and data in your headline; for instance: “5 Ways to Boost Your Conversion Rates by 200%.”
- Be upfront about the post’s main purpose. There’s no space for ambiguity here. If your article is about something really niche, don’t be scared to say so in the headline. For instance: “How I Managed to Take Three Strokes off My Golf Game Simply by Cutting Meat and Dairy From My Diet.”
- Shine a spotlight on the author’s credibility. If your post is about how you became a millionaire from selling cat toys, mention the fact that you’re a millionaire! People are drawn to authority.
Some Final Thoughts
As a writer, it’s not always convenient or pleasant to factor the technicalities of SEO into your work. It doesn’t come naturally to people whose primary goal is to hook a reader with words and offer valuable insight.
But what it means to be a writer is changing.
And those of us who take the commercial side of the craft seriously have to get comfortable with this.
Even if you’re fortunate enough to work as part of a content team where you are fed keyword targets and optimized headlines, understanding how these elements are interpreted by Google will only make you better at your job.
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