The key to SEO copywriting success surprises a lot of people. They usually expect a lengthy and technical answer. While there is an element of truth to that, the real key lies in:
- knowing your audience; and
- giving them the information they want and need.
The rest is all how-to information - how to lay it all out your content so you maximize your findability and ranking potential with search engines.
This post isn't going to explain the who or what - WHO your audience is or WHAT their information wants and needs are. It will however, explain HOW you should craft your website content in order to maximize findability and rankings.
Write Like a 12-Year-Old
The first thing you need to know is that the vast majority of people don't read web content. (I told you there were a few surprises!) They skim it. That immediately translates into some do's and don'ts.
DO make your content easy to skim:
- Stick to one main topic.
- Use simple, concise and direct language, short sentences and paragraphs.
- Use lots of visuals and white space.
- Organize your content logical chunks.
- Make your main points stand out on the page with prominent headings, bullet points, and bold and italicized text.
DO NOT write densely packed, run-on and wandering content with no visuals and clear beginning, middle or end like in the example above. Audiences don't like that. They'll leave without giving you a chance.
Easy to skim also does not mean should craft short or non-value-add content. Your content should be well crafted and original. It should be as long as it needs to be to get your point across. It should help your audience, be memorable and actionable.
Know that people like to be entertained. Write like a 12-year-old. Write with passion and conviction. Let your personality shine through. Be different and proud of it. Stand out from the crowd. Don't be boring.
Show Search Engines You're Relevant, Popular and Authoritative
Search engines look for hundreds of things when deciding who to rank at the top of search results. At 30,000 feet, they're looking for relevance, popularity and authority.
Relevance means your content has to contain the words people are searching for. If someone types "vegetarian pizza" into Google for example, Google wants to see "vegetarian pizza" (or a semantic equivalent) in the page copy - in headings, bullet points, and bold and/or italicized text. Your page won't be eligible to rank unless that search term appears somewhere in the visible text on the page.
Google also wants to see those "keywords" in behind-the-scenes tags, meta tags that show up in search results and influence your rankings. Meta tags include things like title tags, meta descriptions, and structured markup language.
Search engines also care about quality. They prefer natural, well-written content that has a singular focus and theme consistent with the rest of the site. They look for signs that the content has previously satisfied searchers as evidenced by the amount of time site visitors spend on the page and the number of times the page earns a repeat visit, link or social mention. In other words, search engines favor results that show evidence of being popular and authoritative.
RIA Novosti archive, image #168856 / Sergey Pyatakov / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
And so we go full circle. The best way to demonstrate popularity and authority to Google is to create content that people want and need, and then to present that content in a way that is easy to find, easy to skim, accurate, useful and entertaining.
What do you think? Make sense? If not, comment below and we can talk about it. I welcome your feedback.