I remember when I first started creating content...
After perfecting an article, I'd hit the publish button and wait for something amazing to happen.
In short, I was greeted my no shares, no traffic, nothing...
It took be about three years of trial and error, but now I have figured how to write content that people want to share and read.
And I'm not doing anything special!
In this article I have laid out the fundamental SEO copywriting tips you need to know to get people clicking, reading, and sharing.
But first, why do we create content?
Here's the answer:
We create content to develop "leverage".
What is leverage?
- Get your expertise in front of qualified buyers,
- Create relationships with influencers in your space,
- Generate backlinks through media channels,
- Improve your website's authority,
- Lead prospects into a sales funnel,
- and the list goes on....
These are the SEO copywriting tips you need to create leverage with your content.
1. Focus on Relevance (and Reduce Your Bounce Rate)
How long does it take to lose a reader's interest?
Your content first has to survive a harsh 10 second judgement and if a reader isn't convinced about your content within that time frame, they will leave. In this article there is suite of tactics which will help you pass this judgement, but we are first going to start with the most simple...
- Address the reader's purpose in the first sentence and expand on it in the preceding paragraphs.
- Include the main keyword in the first 50 words.
Why does this help? For several reasons, just open up the expanded content below to find out, or skip over it if you feel that's enough explanation.
Click here for a more in-depth explanation
A common piece of SEO advice is "include the keyword in the first sentence" or "the first 50-100 words".
When people say this, the advice is BOTH right and wrong.
I've seen many myths, studies, and opinions on where your first keyword needs to be... but for the savvy business person or content writer... this is what your have to know.
This also applies to many of the on-page keyword strategies that have been so popular for the last few years.
Simply, include your main keyword early in the content for good measure and include synonym phrases (which I explain in another section).
One more point:
Google wants users to find the perfect search result for each person's search query. If you focus on helping your customer identify the purpose of your content, you are enacting a basic customer service.
In essence, you respect their time and want to help them quickly (or point them away if they found the wrong article) which adds to the user experience...
... and it keeps them from bouncing off your web page from confusion.
2. Use Simple Formulas to Create Captivating Introductions (that keep people reading)
How do you survive the next 30 seconds of a reader's judgement?
At around 30 seconds people finally relax and start consuming your content. It's a process.
You just have to know one thing:
How do I get my message across?
I have provided two simple formulas that will help you do this.
Formula #1: Agree, Promise, Preview
I cannot take credit for this formula. It's a simple formula created by Brian Dean from Backlinko.
Here's the basic premise:
Find a pain point that your customer will obviously agree with. Then make a promise to help them solve this pain point. Lastly, preview the solution.
Agree - Create a simple obvious statement they will agree with
Example #1: It sucks when your ranking on Google drops...
Example #2: It is hard to convert cold traffic into email subscribers
Example #3: Buying a house is expensive...
Promise - Assure the customer that there is a solution
But you will be glad to know, if your ranking drops, there is a sure-fire way to find the problem.
As you can see from the example below, my clients had a dramatic drop in their ranking. But after we diagnosed the issue and fixed the problem their ranking returned to its proper place.
Preview - Tell them what they will get in your content related to the problem.
Just like my client, you to will receive the safest, most reliable solution to identify problems that hurt your rankings.
Formula #2: Question, Answer, Problem, Promise
This is the basic "lay it out simply" technique. You want readers to understand WHY they want to invest time, but you don't have to necessarily be a salesman to do it.
Here is some golden advice:
Write strictly to your customer's problem. No fluff. No personal story (unless highly relevant).
Question - Start the article with a question which is relevant to the main problem:
Example #1: How does an article rank on the first page of Google?
Example #2: How do marketers convert cold traffic into email subscribers?
Example #3: How do you find low interest rates when buying a home?
Answer - Give them a quick, easy-to-understand answer
All you have to do is create an article that is better, more helpful, and easier to digest than your competition. Once you do that, basic promotion to influencers and social media channels will help it spread.
Problem - Show why the answer isn't so easy.
But there are many small pitfalls a business or writer will fall through that cause dramatically lower results. Whether it is basic on-page SEO, the content's keyword strategy, or finding the right influencers to share your content -- many fall short somewhere.
Promise - Show them that you will help them solve the problem in the article.
In this article I will show you how to implement basic on-page SEO and how to properly put together a strong article which your target audience will read, share, and engage with.
The answer section can easily become an "agree" section. Just think of your introductions as ways to capture attention and educate the reader on your articles intent and purpose.
5 simple steps to a High-Conversion USP
Grab the USP Cheat Sheet with 5 simple steps to create a USP that captures attention, engages customers, and sells your service or product.
3. Create Engaging Headlines With CoScheduler (to get people clicking!)
Coscheduler has a simple headline optimizer tool.
Just enter your title into the bar for analysis:
Click the "analyze" button and it will give you an in-depth analysis, scores, and advice to improve your headline...
Here is my recommendation for better results:
No matter what, you won't know if your headline is the right headline until you release the article.
But your headline doesn't have to remain the same. Simply a/b test your headline on your social channels to see which ones get the most traction. Have at least three headlines for testing.
If you are Internet savvy, or can find help, you can a/b test the web page itself.
4. Use Outbound Links to Give Credit and Build Link Opportunities
Think of outbound linking as basic respect.
When you link to someone, you are basically telling Google, "I like this piece of content." It's the hidden "thumbs up" system that Google uses heavily in their ranking decisions. If you are the receiver of one of these links, that's called a backlink, and sites with more backlinks tend to rank higher.
People worry about losing "ranking power" when linking out to others, but studies show that linking out to authoritative sources actually helps boost your ranking.
Just credit your sources... otherwise you might get into legal trouble.
Arguably, creating backlinks through outreach is enough reason to do this...
Last thing, Google doesn't reward websites for attaching no-follow tags to outbound links (these tags prevent the other site from receiving any Google love). So don't attach no-follow tags to all your outbound links unless you truly do not want to credit them (kind of like linking to the Ku Klux Klan for research purposes, but you don't want to promote their website).
5. Write to the Navigation to convert search traffic into customers
Many writers miss this.
It is called the three layers of informational understanding.
Let me explain further:
When a customer lands on a service page (let's just use a dentist for this example), what do they have to know.
Are they a dentist and what is their location?
That is called informational necessity.
Informational necessity is the minimal amount of information someone needs to know before they roam around your website to learn more. Plus, if they like what they see, they know they can visit your office.
Then there is another layer called informational benefits.
This is where you give the customer information that will be useful in their buying decision when considering your service or product.
For example, if I was searching for a dentist, it would be useful to know:
- Do they offer the service I am looking for? (teeth whitening, crown work, etc)
- How do I set up an appointment?
- Do they accept my insurance?
- The dentist's Unique sales proposition (why should I do business with them versus other dentists?)
The last layer is called targeted buyer information.
This is all the extra information you add such as what type of materials you use for crown work, how quick your service is, or subtle information that is only helpful to specific people (do you care deeply about medicinal products for sore throats when you don't have a sore throat? Maybe for prevention purposes, but I have a sore throat right now and I can tell you that the answer to that is no.)
Here's real world example of the process in action:
When a customer finds your listing in Google we are already trying to convince them to click your listing. That is why we include BOTH necessary and beneficial information.
If you don't, you will lose clicks to your competition.
So it is important to stand out and convince customers to make their first clicking choice with you by using some benefits (I go over Google listings a little later in the article).
As well, when you help educate AND entice a customer with your listing, they are now better equipped to understand the meaning of your service page and in turn are more receptive to your message.
Let's take a look at the service page:
The left bar shows all the services just incase a customer is on the wrong page and is actually searching for another service (informational benefits).
But if someone is looking for crowns and bridges, they are on the right page. You will find that the page begins divulging specific customer-related information because, if the reader makes it that far, they can be considered qualified buyers for crowns and bridges.
For one simple reason:
Why would an unqualified buyer keep reading if you properly laid out the purpose of your webpage? They wouldn't.
I know this is a service page, but this relates to articles as well. You have to think about how you present the information, what order, and how to lead a reader in.
Make it too complicated too early you scare off too many people. Keep it too simple and too long and you won't entice readers with your content or services.
6. Create Perceived and Real Value With Your Content and People Will Share Your Content
The reason why people share content is simple:
- The content has a perception of high-value.
- The content contains real value.
Why is the perception of value important?
Because most people aren't going to read your article, but they might share it.
That's right. Most shares are just people quickly looking for a piece to share, deciding it is valuable after a quick skim, and then sharing it on their social accounts to an audience.
This helps you get content to the people who matter. So feed the media monster we must.
This is what you do:
- Quote influencers in your niche and use statistics. Most people don't want to waste their time reading bad information. By backing up your claims, you will gain trust which makes your article shareable.
- Create actionable information. Look at this article and you will find that most of the information is almost immediately applicable. If you were just a little bit savvy, someone could vastly improve their website over night by implementing a few changes.
- Include custom, quality images. A custom image costs money to spend. Only a person who is serious about his business spends money on marketing it. And people generally get a feeling of "trust" when they can quantify your effort (and this isn't so much logical more than intuition people have from quickly looking at content). So don't use creative commons! Only if you can find an image that is relevant should you use creative commons.
- Create Listicles. People love lists, and they especially love high numbered ones.
So your article has the perception of high value, what's next?
Simply make sure you write well, clear, and provide good information with well-backed research. After convincing someone to read your article, you better have some depth that will provide real value. Just think... are you solving a problem?
Do you see it now?
Creating content that ranks and converts is kind of like making sure you have a SEO writing checklist filled out.
7. Don't Make these Mistakes On Your Google Listing (Unless you want less clicks)
Here are two mistakes I see all the time.
A. Someone's Google Listing is stuffed with keywords.
I count about 17 keywords in this listing. Currently it lies on the 3rd page of Google for "Tucson chiropractor".
Let's take a look at a page 1 listing:
I count 6 keywords in this listing.
B. There's no differentiation between a client's listing and their competitor's listings.
If you read this listing, there are absolutely no words that are non-generic. The only one is "dependable". But that's it, the rest are generic words like "understand", "needs", or "when".
Include unique words to describe your business like a specific service or even the list of words below:
These are called "power words". Here's a list of 355 of power words to use yourself.
Here's a simple guide of common SEO mistakes I wrote which shows you how to craft meta descriptions (section 1).
8. Teach Google With LSI (To Get Ranked For Your Main Keyword and Partial Keywords)
Again, and I have to harp on this because I have clients who still think keyword density is a fundamental principle of on-page SEO... it has been proven to be an old metric.
The reason keyword density hurts businesses is because of this: businesses are okay with creating mediocre, 500 word pieces of content for the sake of getting more keywords on their website... which is stupid... most of the time.
Instead, Google now uses a diverse array of systems to compute the meaning of your web page, and one of those is latent semantic indexing (using keyword synonyms).
In short, you should:
- include synonyms of your keywords,
- use your keywords naturally,
- use your synonyms naturally,
- don't stuff with either your keyword or synonyms.
Backlinko's recommendation on LSI perfectly shows what I am talking about:
9. Write to Satisfy Search Intent (the Highest Ranked Pages All Satisfy the User's Search Intent)
We all want to be found on Google, but what happens next?
The user either finds what they want, or they don't.
If they don't, then they leave (increasing your bounce rate, which in many cases can be bad for your ranking).
Let's break down the user's search intent into 4 categories:
A. Navigational - The user is looking for a specific destination. For example, if you want to land on Amazon's book pages, you would type, "amazon books".
At this stage the user already understands who you are and what you do. Besides applying the general strategies I am showing you on all of your pages, I can't give you specifics on how to write for a search like this.
B. Informational - These searches are the most popular. It can range from a myriad of search types:
- What kind of cameras are there?
- How do I launch a website?
- How do I rank on Google?
- What kind of books should business people read?
In this instance you have to make it very clear that your article or web page's intent is to help them learn about the subject. Here are the 4 key points you must think about to keep this user's attention:
- Meta Description and Title (section 3 and 7)
- Headline (Section 4)
- Introductory paragraph (section 1 and 2)
- Introductory image and other assets (Section 6)
Consider using these words early on to show you have created an informational piece:
- How to
Last thing. Be very specific about what you are showing the customer. Judge the two meta descriptions below and see which one makes the most sense:
These meta descriptions are for the search term how to eat healthy on a budget. The first meta description does it the most justice because it is descriptive about the exact message of the content.
3. Commercial Investigation - These searches are from people more educated on a subject and are searching in an effort to aid a buying decision.
Here are possible commercial search terms:
- Best SEO service
- Best Canon Cameras
- Top college reviews
- Best web hosts in 2017
For local searches, these terms can transform into...
- Chiropractor in Sierra Vista
- Dentists in Phoenix
- Tucson Lawyers.
It ill be very unlikely that there will be an article reviewing dentists, chiropractors, or lawyers in the area. In this case, your home or service page becomes the place to satisfy searcher's intent.
4. Transactional - Now users are ready to become buyers. These searches, depending on your business and if you are local, are similar to "commercial investigation searches".
Some searches you might expect:
- cheap bikes
- crown work Tucson
- Where to buy sturdy work shoes
See the differences in those three searches? Understanding search intent isn't exactly straightforward. Nor is it complicated. Just take second to consider your business type, how it relates to the customer, and what types of searches apply to your business.
10. The Art of SEO Copywriting for Serial Skimmers (Get People With Low-Attention Spans Reading and Sharing)
Here are the tools you need:
- Ordered and unordered lists
- Super-secret skim tricks!
You want to use bolding and italics to create "conversational copy".
It is all over the web.
It's a matter of writing preference really, and if you are really new to it, this small article on typography will help.
Another thing you will see all over are lists. Lists are just a simple way to make bulky thoughts seem simple and easy-to-understand.
But what about the super-secret skim tricks?
Here's the secret:
People skim all across the web, so you need to do three things to capture their attention.
- Space out text because it is easier to read. Bulky paragraphs scare off readers. Most people are in a rush.
- Use bucket-brigades. You will see this all over my article. For example, the phrase "Here's the secret" about four lines above this (depending on device) is a bucket brigade. It stops skimmers and tells them "there is something important here."
- Create grease-slide lists. You are reading one right now. You just highlight the important point and write more incase someone wants to learn more.
11. Build Call to Actions to Get Your Audience Sharing, Clicking, and Commenting
People don't know what to do with your content.
It's not their fault. How can they possibly know that you want "email opt-ins" or "social media shares".
For all they know, you wrote a good piece of information and they get to use that information.
That's why we use call to actions.
Its our way of saying, "We want you to do something, and here's our reason why."
If I want to someone to opt-in to an email list, I would create a content upgrade (this is content to build off your article and give more useful information, but the customer has to do something).
Then, within the content, I would offer the upgrade and tell them exactly how to get it.
Like the one below:
5 simple steps to a High-Conversion USP
Grab the USP Cheat Sheet with 5 simple steps to create a USP that captures attention, engages customers, and sells your service or product.
Also, call to actions are great for asking favors. Content isn't easy to make. I sometimes spend over 30 hours on an article. I spent about 12 on this one...
.. and I did it for free. I don't charge for this information. I write it and hope it helps you with your marketing problems (and of course to land clients).
But in the end, I would like to know if my content is helping you write better SEO copy. If this article has helped you find ways to improve your content with 11 worthwhile SEO copywriting tips, click the one of the share buttons below.
About the Author
Hi, I'm Brian and I am a content strategist/copywriter in Sierra Vista, Arizona. I'm on a mission to help small business owners market their websites and make more money through smart content and conversion copywriting. Instead of working on your website, make your website work for you.