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SEO Copywriting: An In-depth Guide

toronto seo copywriting feature image

One of the most overlooked elements to any website is the actual content or copy within the website itself.  It’s easy to get caught up in flashy design and cool apps, but for a successful website to generate a constant flow of traffic, it needs fresh content.

It sounds easy enough right? Well, you’d be surprised how difficult it can be to constantly put out new, current, factually correct (this is super important), and engaging content on a regular basis.

The topic of this article is how to write great copy that is optimized for SEO.  We are going to examine a few things to help get you started:

  • Content strategy
  • Keyword research
  • Internal linking
  • Optimizing for SEO
  • Typography
  • How much and how often you should be posting new content
  • Where you can purchase high quality copy for a decent cost

Before we get started, it’s critical to understand why good copy is necessary.  First and foremost, it is your voice.  If you have a product, you need to let people know why it is great, how it can improve their life, or how it can make things easier.  If you run a blog, you need to be able to connect with people on a personal level so they’ll want to come back and read more.

It’s important to clearly state what your site is about, and if people cannot figure what that is within 5 seconds of being on your website, then you’ll need to re-evaluate your content strategy.

So let’s get started.

Content Strategy

Every website needs a content strategy tailored to their subject matter.  Some websites thrive off visuals, for example, perhaps you run a pastry shop called Sandra’s Cakes and you bake 30 different cakes per day. That is 30 different pictures you could be taking and using as visual content.  People often say a picture can say a thousand words, but unfortunately search engines do not see things that way, and actually require words - the more the better.

So how do you write a thousand words about a cake you just baked in your shop? Well, chances are you won’t be able to stretch a post that far.  Why do we say this? Because it’s really hard! 

What you could do is get creative and take pictures of the 10 cakes you made during the week that you were most proud of, and create a weekly post series.  You could call it something like, “This week at Sandra’s Cakes” and list your top 10 cakes of the week, with a description, ingredients, and ordering instructions.  If you can nail down a template for this, you should be able to create 1500-2000 word posts with tons of great visuals on a consistent basis for your shop. 

Perhaps your website doesn’t have great visuals the way a cake shop would and your business is more information focused, such as a law firm or a dental clinic.  These subjects are a bit more difficult to plan a weekly series on, so a content strategy is even more critical to think about. 

For example, a law firm could release a weekly post series outlining some of the latest news when it comes to the type of law it practices.  A criminal defence lawyer could write about existing cases within the court, and provide his/her take on it.  Or perhaps a new by-law was introduced within the city, and you have an opinion on it you’d like to express.

Another easy type of content you can write about for any business is your involvement within the community.  This is great for local SEO as it shows people within your town or city how committed your business is, where they can find you, and what you’re doing to help or better the community itself.

To use another example, perhaps your dental clinic has deep roots within your community in Toronto, and every month you donate toothbrushes and toothpaste to local shelters.  The people deserve to know this! This is great content as it promotes your brand, your awareness, and gives you credibility within the community. 

Case studies are also a great way to create content, and they can often be stretched out beyond 2000 words.  Every company with a client can and should be doing this as long as it doesn’t infringe on the client's privacy.  Case studies are interesting, engaging, and they show your audience that you are credible, knowledgable, and eager to improve. 

People love to read about case studies because they are easily relatable, and that’s what you should be aiming at.  Once people can relate to your content, they become more engaged, and more likely to come back or share your content with others.

There really are tons of things to write about, you just have to get a bit creative.

Keyword Research

Writing great content often comes with an idea, but sometimes an idea can only get you so far. In order to support your ideas, you’ll need keywords (or topics) to sprinkle within your content to give search engines an idea of what your post is about.

On any given topic, there are tons of keywords you could use within your content; however, some are better than others. 

What do we mean by this? Well, some keywords have high volume, medium volume, and low volume in terms of traffic.  Keywords that get a high volume of traffic are obviously more popular in search, but often are much harder to rank for.  Low volume keywords that do not receive as much traffic can be easier to rank for.  To get a better understanding of the difficulty of your keyword, you can use (for free) Google Adwords Keyword Planner.

This tool is great for conducting keyword research because it outlines how much traffic your desired keywords are getting, and how much competition they have.

The keyword planner also outlines how much the suggested bid for each keyword is.  This dollar amount is based on an algorithm Google uses to determine how much people are spending in their Adwords account on specific keywords. When people pay to have their ad displayed in Google, they need to bid on these keywords.  This is valuable insight because it lets you know which keywords Google deems to be lucrative for converting customers.

It will also give you ideas on keywords related to the one you plugged in.  It’s always a good idea to sprinkle in supporting keywords within your content to highlight your main keywords.

It’s important to understand that even though this tool provides great insight, the data is constantly being refreshed by millions of daily users.  So some of the numbers might not be 100% accurate. 

Another great way for conducting keyword research is by doing a competitor analysis.  This tactic is great for understanding how people using keywords you want to rank for, use them within their content. 

If you create a list of keywords you want to target, simply just Google those keywords and see which pages come up first.  Take a look at the top 5 results on the first page after searching. It takes a bit of time, but read their websites and see how they’re writing their content.  These results change from time to time, but you’ll get a clear understanding of what their authors are writing about. 

If you think you could write a piece of content that is similar, but BETTER and LONGER than your competitor, then you should do it.  Make sure you do not rip off that article though, because not only is plagiarism frowned upon by Google, but it will also destroy your credibility as a copywriter.

Internal Linking

One of the most under appreciated, and overlooked content strategy is creating an internal linking structure between your content, and the main pages of your website.

SEO is a complex and time consuming practice, and a lot of people think the more links they have pointing to their site, the better.  Those people are not wrong, and links do matter, but the source of those links should not only be from external websites.

There are many ways to internally link, but for every post you create, you should try to link to other articles within your website using anchor text that fits within the context.  The image above is an example of that.  We used an interlinking technique for a related article a few paragraphs up, by adding anchor text that fits the flow of the article.  

This is one of the key elements for on-page SEO.  It helps search engines index your page better and gives them an idea of what your page is about.  It also strengthens the overall health of your site.

Optimizing for SEO

Writing takes time and talent, but mostly time.  There is a major difference between writing a novel or a newspaper article, and for SEO.  They all take talent, but there is a difference between the two forms of writing.  Optimizing your content for SEO means stuffing in keywords within the context of your article while making it seem natural.  This comes as a challenge for some keywords because people do not always type grammatically correct search phrases.  They often type in short form, so to add short form keywords within content and make it flow naturally can be a problem. 

Another factor in optimizing your content for SEO includes having the proper meta data on each page.  This includes an engaging title for your content, proper meta description with relevant keywords, and header tags to separate and organize the content on your page.

Images are also important to include within your content.  Original images are always better, so if you have a roll of photos related to your content, be sure to use them.  Taking screenshots is also a great tactic for images, especially within guides.  There are many screenshot tools available, so it might be a good idea for obtain one unless you’re comfortable using the built-in screen capture applications on your operating system. 

Images should also always have proper ALT text attached to them.  The best way to write your ALT text is to imagine a blind person landed on your page, and is using a screen reader to convey the information back to him.  What would the ALT text say back to him on your image? Would it give him a keyword unrelated to the image, or would it explain what the actual picture is?  People are not sure of what to write in ALT text, but the best practice is to organically type a description of the image as if you were explaining it to someone who's blind, and if you can fit in a keyword, even better.

Typography

Having nice typography can actually have a major impact on your website sessions.  It seems picky, but it’s true.  You don’t want to have people zoom in, or zoom out of your content in order to read it.

We personally like fonts that are a bit bigger, and spaced out.  It is easier on your eye to read and digest.  Picking the right font always comes down to a personal preference, but some are definitely better than others.  A short list of fonts that we love:

  • Roboto
  • Lato
  • Verdanna
  • Tahoma
  • Gotham
  • Montserrat
  • Open Sans
  • Raleway

We definitely prefer sans serif fonts because they just look cleaner.

Other elements to your typography are the line-height and line-spacing.  These are two different characteristics that can be defined in your CSS. 

Line-height refers to the space between multiple lines of text.  A general rule of thumb for us, is if you’re using 18px font, set your line-height to 26px.  We like adding an extra 8px of space.

Line-spacing refers to the space between each characters.  We like adding 1-2px of spacing here as it makes the text easier to read.

Have you ever wondered why children’s novels have much larger, and spaced out font? It’s because the author realizes their demographic.  They are targeting children, and children have shorter attention spans than most adults, so they will use these tactics to make reading easier for the child. 

We have to think of most users on the Internet as children, and provide them easy-to-read text that is not going to scare them away.  If you were to load up a website with a MASSIVE block of small text all squished together, it would be intimidating, and become less appealing to read.  You want to invite users to read your content, so the child approach to typography is a good tactic.  This doesn’t mean that only 'children' are reading your page, but you need to convey the text as if you were reaching a child.

Another way to make your content more appealing is to add plenty of paragraphs.  This may not be grammatically correct in formal writing, but writing articles on the internet is different. People often refer to it as blogging.

Nobody wants to see 1000 words blocked into one paragraph.  It’s boring, unappealing, and will most likely scare off your reader.  To break that block down into 5 or 6 easier to read paragraphs will organize your content in a more presentable fashion. 

How much and how often you should be posting new content

This section is not an exact science, but the more content, the better.  This is obvious, as it tells search engines that your site is active and current. 

If you feel like you can post a new blog article every single day, then you should do it.  The problem is, writing copy takes a lot of time, and most business owners do not have enough hours in the day to sit down and write lengthy articles. 

This is why we generally suggest you try and commit to 2 articles or blog posts per month at the bare minimum. 

The amount of text within your content is also debatable, but data suggest that content between the 2000-2500 word range performs the best.  According to a study conducted by SerpIQ, the richer the content, the better.

This graph shows the direct correlation to word count and rankings.  As you can see, content ranking in the top spots range in the 2300-2500 word count territory. 

Again, it’s hard to write copy that is 2500 words long, but it is doable as long as you conduct proper research, and have an action plan of items to write about.

Where can you purchase great copy for cheap

If you’re strapped for time, or are not a strong writer, you may want to hire a freelance copywriter to do the dirty work for you.  There is no shame in doing this, because let’s be honest, not everyone has an affinity for writing.  There is no harm in saying this, we can’t all be the best at everything.

Be careful with doing this though because sometimes even your writer will get lazy and outsource the job to other countries that will work for pennies on the dollar.  Make sure to research copywriters and ask for samples of their work.  Find out if they are knowledgable in your field, and how they conduct their keyword research.

Writing great copy comes at a cost.  There are a lot of freelancers out there that will work for 2-3 cents per word, but in our experience, you’ll want to stay away from those writers.  If they’re willing to sell their copy for that cheap, you might get something of poor quality in return, or something that hardly makes sense.  You can find these gigs on sites like Fiverr, but again, be wary of them.

Sometimes paying 10-12 cents per word is worth it if your copywriter understands the subject matter and will write a quality piece for you with properly researched material and keywords.

You need to find that balance between great quality, while not being insanely expensive.

Search Engine Sherpas provides quality freelance copywriting at a fair price.

We offer a copywriting service of the highest quality and value.  Our writing team consists of University educated writers who work hard at producing quality content, all the time, with no exceptions. Our copywriters are all from Canada, and native English speakers.

Our content is ALWAYS 100% unique, never copied, never plagiarized. On top of that, we are experts in doing keyword research, and providing unique images to go along with the text.

The best part? We’re not even that expensive!  Depending on the subject matter, our prices will range from 8-10 cents per word.  We will write articles that range from 1000-2500 words, on literally ANY subject. 

  • Need a guide for your cool new product? No problem!

  • Need any ideas for a weekly blog series? No problem!

  • Need highly technical manuals and training material? No problem!

We love to write about anything.  Check out our SEO copywriting services here!

Search Engine Sherpas
Search Engine Sherpas
Search Engine Sherpas is a Toronto SEO and Web Design company located within the downtown core.

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