SEO for copywriters
What all copywriters should know about SEO
You can be an experienced copywriter with an impressive portfolio, and still lack any form of knowledge about SEO. That’s because Search Engine Optimisation is only relevant if you write for the web. You don’t need keywords in a TV ad or <H> tags in a poster campaign.
In this article, we’re focusing on SEO basics for copywriters and content writers. Therefore, we won’t go into details about things such as backlink strategies, Google’s algorithms or how web crawlers work. But we’ll still try to give you a good overview and help you understand what SEO is and how it works.
What is SEO?
According to Wikipedia, SEO – short for Search Engine Optimisation – is “the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines”.
In other words, SEO means optimising your web pages to increase the visibility of your site and appear within the first results suggested by a search engine when users are searching for specific keywords.
The goal is for your website or web page to come up in organic searches. In this context, “organic” means “from unpaid traffic”.
On the other hand, SEM – short for Search Engine Marketing – involves paying for ads that will appear at the top of the search results page. That’s paid traffic.
There are many search engines in the world, but Google is by far the most important with a global market share of almost 90%. That’s why most SEO experts are so obsessed with Google’s algorithm’s updates.
When you create a website or a new web page, you want it to be indexed by Google and you want to improve your ranking as much as possible. The ultimate goal of SEO is to reach position zero, the featured snippet that appears on Google, on top of the other organic search results, just after the paid ads.
What does SEO consist of?
If you think SEO is just about adding keywords to your blog posts, you have a lot to learn. Keywords are just the tip of the iceberg. Search Engine Optimisation is much more than that.
As the name suggests, this part is not about the content itself and might not be particularly interesting for copywriters. Technical SEO is about the structure of the website, its speed and mobile friendliness. It’s what’s behind the scene.
The goal of off-page SEO is to improve the website’s ranking. For that, you need quality backlinks – links from authoritative and relevant websites pointing to your pages. Good backlinks, also called inbound links, make search engines trust you more and, therefore, more likely to show you first on the search results page.
Now we’re talking! On-page, that’s where the content is, so that’s the most relevant part for copywriters. But it would be foolish to think that on-page SEO is just about copywriting and keywords.
Tags are added to the HTML code to help the crawlers identify different elements. For example, <H> tags are used to define headings and how important they are (from H1 to H6).
Google attaches importance to the user experience. More than the text itself, the structure of the page must be optimised. Adding Alt text to every image is part of this process.
Finally, each web page must have a well-thought-out title tag and meta description.
What you should know about keywords
Keywords – or key phrases – are what people type in Google to tell it what they’re looking for, for example: “chocolate cake recipe” or “Christmas gift ideas”.
If you want your content to appear in Google’s search results page when a user types a specific keyword, this keyword needs to be present on your page – and more than once.
Before you pick your keywords, you have to ask yourself what the user’s search intent is. Indeed, not all Google searches have the same goal. Here are the most common ones:
- Information: the user is looking for information about a specific topic, for example “how is chocolate made”.
- Commercial investigation: they’re doing research before making a purchase, for example “best chocolate shop london”.
- Transaction: the user wants to buy something, for example “dark chocolate chips 500g”.
- Navigation: they’re looking for a specific website and thought it would be fast and easy to reach it via Google, for example “Cadbury”.
If your keywords don’t match the search intent, people are just going to leave your site quickly once they realise that your content is not what they’re looking for. That’s why there is no point in trying to lure users.
Now imagine that you’re writing a blog post. How can you pick the right keywords to match your potential customer’s Google search? There are many ways to do it, and most of them involve using keyword research tools.
Those tools will help you find the most relevant keywords by giving you a lot of suggestions and the search volume for each one. For example, there are on average between 100,000 and 1 million monthly searches on Google for the word “chocolate” in the UK. The search volume for “vanilla” is much lower: between 10,000 and 100,000.
To tell Google what your page is about, you won’t just repeat the same keyword again and again – that’s keyword stuffing, a very bad practice that Google despises. You’ll use other related keywords from the same semantic field.
Write for people, not for machines
To summarise what we’ve said so far, SEO is the process of optimising your web pages in order for them to be indexed and get a better ranking on Google.
So does that mean that the whole point of the copy you’re writing is to attract and please Google’s crawlers? The answer is no.
Ten or fifteen years ago, you could have met people saying otherwise. But things have changed since then. Bad or lazy practices, such as including voluntarily misspelled versions of your keywords, aren’t only outdated, they can backfire.
SEO best practices are in constant evolution, because Google keeps evolving and always tries to improve its services. Its goal is to provide the best possible response to each search. Therefore, Google has no interest in suggesting badly-written blogs, clickbaits and pages stuffed with keywords but with no real information.
Whether you’re writing a commercial landing page or a personal blog post, you’re crafting content for a reader – a human being. That’s why you should always write for people first. You just have to take all what we’ve said here into consideration.
At Cam’s Writing, we’re not SEO experts who can also write content, we’re copywriters and content marketing experts with a strong knowledge of SEO.
If you liked this article or if you need any help with your web content, let us know.