- by Alyson Shane
One of the hardest parts of content marketing is writing copy that’s optimized for search engines, but is still fun and entertaining to read.
Regularly publishing useful, interesting updates (usually to your website's blog) gives people a reason to visit your site over and over again, which familiarizes them with your business, builds trust, and increases the likelihood that they'll buy from you.
In fact, a recent HubSpot survey found that 20% of marketing leaders described company blogs as one of their "most important channels" for hitting goals.
However — this is easier said than done. In order for your blog to be successful, you need to do more than just “write content". Your copy needs to:
- Appeal to your target audience
- Solve a specific problem
- Show how YOU, specifically, solve that problem
The easiest way to convey all of the above is by using strategic SEO keywords to drive targeted traffic to your website.
Keep reading to learn how to write SEO-friendly copy that attracts the right audience to your posts and builds brand awareness with your ideal customers.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the process of writing your website copy and setting up your site in a way that helps it appear on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Where your website shows up (or “ranks”) on a SERP is the result of your SEO.
When it comes to applying SEO to your content strategy, that process looks like this:
- Research keywords relevant to your industry
- Select a particular keyword (or keyword phrase)
- Use that keyword to write a blog post
- Share that post on social media and encourage others to do the same
How Are SERP results calculated?
A search engine’s algorithm calculates SERP results on a few factors, which are:
The content on your page. Things that are measured include the amount of times a keyword (or key phrases) are used throughout your content.
Types of clicks. According to Moz, there are three types of clicks you should pay attention to: First, Long, and Last.
Authority. Authority refers to the number of links pointing back to that page, and how trustworthy those links are. The more popular and linked-to a website is, the more “trustworthy” those websites are.
Think about links like “upvotes” on Reddit: the more upvotes your post gets, the higher it appears at the top of the comment thread. Websites and SERPS work the same way.
The “comment” that gets upvoted is your website, and it receives an “upvote” when a trustworthy website links back to it. Pretty simple, right?
What is SEO copywriting?
SEO is the process of writing content that is useful, ranks well, and communicates expertise and value to your target audience.
The practice of effective SEO copywriting has changed a lot over the years.
Starling Social started as a freelance copywriting business, but back when we started doing SEO copywriting it was more about following a specific format, like mentioning the business name, services, city, and phone number in the opening paragraph of a web page.
Unsurprisingly, this made the internet sound boring and repetitive.
These issues also caused search engines like Google to start rolling out updates to their ranking algorithm and how it parses (categorizes) content on a website.
Nowadays there are lots of factors that go into how a website ranks, but consistently communicating how you solve your customer’s problems through your content is how you write truly “effective” SEO copy.
The 5 most important elements of SEO copywriting
Like we said: there are lots of things that contribute to a web page’s SERP ranking, but when it comes to copy, the most important elements are:
- Meta descriptions
- Keyword frequency and density
- Page links
Your headline is one of the most important elements of your SEO copy, since the headline is what catches people’s attention and entices them to click and read further.
Some writers suggest writing your headline first, then writing the rest of your copy, but the order you do it in is up to you. We usually write ours last, and check it against Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer to see how it’ll do.
Not sure how to write snappy headlines? Use these tips as your guide:
- Include a number in the title if possible. Conversion XL found that headlines with numbers earn higher click-through rates.
- Keep your headline short. Search engines cut off titles after 72 characters, so avoid long, meandering headlines if you can help it.*
- Use Google for content inspo. Search for your target keywords and pay attention to the themes that appear in the topic, content, and which headlines turn up — this will show you the hottest topics that are getting the most traffic.
- Use Yoast SEO. This handy WordPress plugin will help you optimize your content for SEO by using an easy-to-understand ranking system.
* For reference, the title of this article “The 5 Most Important Elements of SEO Copywriting” is 48 characters.
When someone looks something up, they’re searching for content that meets those needs, and SEO copywriting is how we create the high-quality content that gives them what they’re looking for.
How to strategically plan SEO content
The best way to plan your SEO content is to target keyword phrases, instead of individual keywords. Let’s look at an example:
As we can see, this generic search turns up about 197 million results — not great if you’re a small business without an ad budget to give you an edge in such a crowded space.
Now, let’s take a look at a more specific keyword phrase and compare:
By targeting a more niche keyword phrase, we reduced the volume of results by 97%!
While this is still a pretty sizable number of results, it does a good job of illustrating how targeting specific keyword phrases can increase the likelihood that your page will turn up on a less-crowded SERP.
How to write high-ranking SEO content
Before you start writing, it’s essential to know who you’re writing for.
Consider your customers and ask yourself: what kinds of questions can I answer for them? As you can see in the screenshots above, the more “niche” you can be, the more likely your content will show up on a SERP, so try to avoid general questions and focus on industry-specific topics instead.
The Google Panda 4.1 update specifically penalizes “thin” or shallow content, so make sure your articles and posts are at least 1000 words long, and include your keyword phrase several times on the page.
But beware: search engines penalize “keyword stuffing” so don’t jam your keywords into sentences in ways that feel repetitive or sound unnatural.
3. Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are short, text-based descriptions of what’s on a page. Here’s an example of some of the meta descriptions from the Starling Social website:
If you check out your website’s HTML, you can find it in the <head> section </head>. Updating it can be tricky if you aren’t a web developer, so we recommend using Yoast SEO for this purpose if you’re serious about optimizing for SEO.
How to write eye-catching meta descriptions
Meta descriptions need to do two things: rank well in a search, and be engaging enough to capture readers’ attention and encourage them to click.
Make sure to keep keyword intent in mind. Keyword intent is the reason behind the keywords.
Think about it this way: if you’re a digital marketing agency (like us, hello), then you might assume that you'd want to target only keywords like “digital marketing agency” — but if someone else is typing those words into Google, what are they looking for?
Obviously they want to find a digital marketing agency, but why? Maybe they want help understanding how to run Facebook ads, or how to grow their following on Instagram.
Whatever it is, your meta description needs to speak to those needs! Use this tip sheet as your guide:
4. Keyword frequency and density
Keyword frequency refers to how often your keywords appear on your page.
Keyword density, on the other hand, refers to the ratio of your keyword phrase to other words on the page.
If you write a 1000-word post with the target keyword phrase “professional Manitoba photographer” — how many times does that phrase come up, and how much are you using it in relation to the other words on the page?
Overdoing it here is called “keyword stuffing”. Jamming your keyword (or phrase) into your text too many times can cause search engines to flag your page as “spammy”, and also has the unfortunate side effect of making your content look spammy, too.
Here’s an example of how not to do it:
“For the best professional Alberta photographer look no further. We offer the highest-quality professional Alberta photography at competitive rates. Want to learn about our professional Alberta photography services? Click here.”
Not great, right?
The example above is pretty obvious, but if you’re not sure what your keyword-to-content ratio is, we suggest using the SEObook keyword density tool.
5. Page links
Page Links are how search engines see that your website is connected to the rest of the web and that your content is useful enough that it links to other, relevant content online.
Google’s stated mission is to organize the world’s information and make it accessible, so adding outbound links to your content indicates that you value what other people have to say, which helps your website as more valuable to search engines.
What SEO copywriters (like us) do is identify target keywords, research supporting and accurate information to support our content, and then use both to create useful and interesting content.
There are no “hard and fast” rules about page linking, but here are a few to keep in mind:
- Link to relevant pages within your own site
- Link to in-depth 3rd party guides and resources
- Link to other pages with appropriate anchor text* that sounds natural
* WordStream defines anchor text as “the clickable text in a hyperlink”
Bonus: site speed
Site speed isn’t technically related to SEO copywriting, but how fast your website loads play a huge role in how your website ranks on a SERP so we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it.
According to a study by Akamai, 53% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, and mobile sites that loaded in 5 seconds earned almost double the revenue of sites that took 19 seconds to load.
If your web page takes more than two seconds to load, you could be losing out on valuable traffic! We recommend testing your website’s loading speed using Google’s PageSpeed insights tool.
SEO copywriting tools
Looking for more tools to increase your SEO copywriting abilities? Check out this list of handy resources:
Hemingway App. This tool identifies excess text and helps keep your copy short and snappy (just like Hemingway’s writing).
Coschedule Headline Analyzer. Exactly what it sounds like.
Moz Keyword Explorer. A keyword research tool that gives you up to 10 free keyword searches a month with a free account.
Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List: Exactly what it sounds like.
Start writing better SEO copy today
Following these SEO copywriting strategies will help you drive more traffic to your website, improve your brand’s reputation, and (most importantly) write content that people and search engines love.
And hey — if you thought this was a useful post and you want to get more of this kind of content (ours and others) delivered to your inbox once a week, subscribe to our newsletter.
- by Alyson Shane
One of this season's most binge-worthy Netflix shows is, undeniably, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. This charming and quirky reality tv show follows Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and creator of the KonMari method, as she visits families to help them organize and tidy their homes.
As you can see, Marie Kondo has quickly become a household name since then:
Since KonMari has been such a success at helping improving their personal lives, we started thinking: what if we applied the principles behind KonMari to improve SEO?
What can we "tidy up" to improve our organic page rank?
What about our pages (or website!) doesn't spark joy?
Today we're going to explore these themes (and more!) as commit ourselves to developing an SEO strategy that keeps our websites clean, tidy, and building towards our ideal lifestyle. Let's dive right in:
Applying KonMari to SEO
How can we apply the KonMari method to the basics of SEO? Let's start by considering The 6 Basic Rules of Tidying Up:
- Commit yourself to tidying up
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle
- Finish discarding first
- Tidy by category, not by location
- Follow the right order
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy
Okay - maybe at first glance SEO and KonMari don't seem 1-1, but stick with us: we've massaged these principles into a roadmap so you can declutter your website and create an SEO strategy that sparks joy.
1. Commit Yourself to Tidying Up (Your Website)
SEO success doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and an investment in areas like content creation (hello, blog posts!), a social media strategy, and an ongoing commitment to creating a website that is responsive, easy to read, and includes keywords and phrases that boost your organic Search Engine Page Rank (SERP).
Commit yourself to doing a proper SEO audit at least once per fiscal quarter, and to implementing any steps needed to correct the errors you find. Commit resources to tools that make sure you're receiving actionable data - and if you don't have the knowledge (or time) to do it yourself, partner with someone who can.
2. Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle (Once Your Website Reaches Its Full Potential)
Ask yourself: what does success look like to me, and what kind of lifestyle would that mean for my life? Spend time thinking about the type of life you want to live, and how your website contributes to that success.
For example, figure out which keywords will help your website be seen by as much of your target audience as possible, and then rank those keywords based on which of them would drive your "ideal lifestyle" (aka: growing your business, closing leads, generating revenue, etc.)
3. Finish Discarding (Low-Quality Content) First
Before we can dive into the process of tidying up and sparking joy, we need to start by discarding the things that are no longer bringing us joy.
For your website, this can include:
Clear Up Search Indexes. Find any old PDFs, subdomains, or subfolders that may be hanging around and get rid of them.
Discarding Old Content. Reevaluate your website, tighten up your content blocks, and remove any stale or irrelevant content.
Discard Irrelevant Items. Review your robots.txt to make sure you're not blocking any items that search engine crawlers may need to access to index your site.
Disregard Irrelevant Pages. When was the last time you cleaned up your web pages? If you've never removed old or irrelevant pages, use sitemap tool to get started.
4. Tidy by Category, Not By Location (in the SERP)
Now that we've taken care of discarding the useless stuff, we can focus on tidying up our websites based on category, not where we want to end up on a SERP.
Some things you can tidy (aka optimize based on keyword research) include:
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
- Headers (H1, H2s, etc.)
- Image alt texts
- Meta descriptions
5. Follow the Right Order (As You Go Through Your SEO Efforts)
This is where things can get a bit tricky: not only do you need to use your understanding of what will make the biggest impact re: your ranking factor, but you also need to figure out how to implement those changes efficiently.
6. Ask Yourself If It "Sparks Joy" (Hint: a Boost to Organic SEO Should 'Spark Joy'!)
This should be obvious: are the steps you're taking leading you to the results you want? Are the changes you're implementing helping, or harming your SERP ranking?
If not, stop spending time on those tactics and start focusing on changes that contribute to your ideal lifestyle (see #2 in this list). For example, if you're spending a ton of time creating content that isn't yielding the results you're looking for (aka: sparking joy) then pause that and re-evaluate ways you could be spending your time that would lead to more joy.
Getting Organized, The SEO Way
Even if you don't follow the KonMari method word-for-word, it's important to have an organizational plan to help you stay on top of your SEO efforts. As this industry continues to grow and impact how businesses find their customers (and vice-versa) it's not enough to assume that we can fix SEO problems as they happen - we need to be active in identifying and resolving them.
How do you find joy in your content and SEO? Tweet us!
Have a question about SEO? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Want help developing a strategy that earns you the SERP ranking you want? Drop us a line.
Want to follow our Company Page? Follow us on LinkedIn.
Want some nice stuff to look at every day? Let's connect on Instagram.
Looking to stay up-to-date with our posts? Subscribe to our newsletter.
- by Alyson Shane
Looking for answers to your hottest local SEO questions? We've got 'em!
SEO is a "hot button" topic these days, and as businesses look for ways to expand their organic (non-paid) reach in order to help potential customers find them, many are waking up to the fact that spending a little time optimizing their website and Google My Business pages will help their business rank higher on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP.)
With that in mind, today we're going to answer some of the most common questions we hear from our clients when it comes to optimizing for local SEO. Let's dive right in:
"How has local SEO changed recently?"
Google makes so many updates to their search algorithms and associated business services that it can feel confusing to keep track of it all, so here are some of the most important changes that have taken place over the past few years:
- Google has anchored Local Packs (the top three results you see after performing a search) to pretty much every SERP that it considers to be locally-focused. This is a big boon for businesses who have registered an account with Google My Business, Google Maps, etc.
- Google My Business has also rolled out several features to help differentiate your business from your competitors, including: Posts, Product Posts, Q&A, Messages, Video, and more. By completing and updating as many of these features as possible, you can really hone your content offerings to target local search.
- There have been a lot of rumblings recently about the explosion of voice and mobile search, but to date these trends haven't appeared to affect local SEO beyond ensuring that your data is clean and consistent across the web. This will be beneficial when the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes even more commonplace than it already is because it will allow businesses to easily integrate into these systems.
- Reviews and link building continues to be critical for local SEO success.
"How do I beat out competitors like Yelp when I have a small budget?"
The good news for small and medium businesses (SMBs) is that Google has an incentive to show more truly local businesses in each Local SERP, which means there's less opportunity for big companies like Yelp to dominate over the competition, even if you have a modest budget.
As long as you have your basic website, Google My Business Page, and your local citations set up and up-to-date, earning a high ranking on an SERP becomes a game of links, reviews, and content.
In particular, SMBs need to focus on gaining positive customer reviews on Google, Yelp, and any other site that's relevant to your target market or industry. Another way to attract new customers is to make use of the Posts feature in Google My Business, which is a great (free!) way to attract new customers who may already be familiar with your brand.
"How much does social media impact my local SEO efforts?"
Social media doesn't appear to play a huge role outside of reviews. Instead, focus your "social SEO" efforts into being active on social platforms where you know your customers spend their time. For example, if your business markets products at women who are 45+, then your business should have an active Facebook Business Page, at the very least.
"How do I differentiate myself from other local businesses in my industry?"
The best way to truly differentiate yourself from local competitors is to build a brand with a voice and tone that sounds unique online, and which helps potential customers see you as "different" than other, similar businesses.
This typically comes down to how well you convey your values, and how well you can explain how your product or services will solve your customers' problems.
Of course, many businesses who are just starting out and don't have a lot of word-of-mouth activity can still earn high local SEO rankings by setting up their website and GMB pages and focusing on getting links and reviews.
"What are the 'must-haves' for succeeding in local SEO?"
Businesses that kill it at the local SEO game all share the same qualities:
- Their a website is easy for Google to recognize, understand, and navigate.
- Their Google My Business pages are optimized them using Posts, Q&As, etc.
- All their local citations are in place in GMB.
- They have a content strategy to target high-converting search queries.
- They consistently generate customer reviews.
- They build and get links.
Remember: winning at local SEO isn't a one-time play; it takes ongoing effort to make sure that your website continues to rank highly in local SERP results!
Optimize Your Local SEO Today
Getting your business listed in Google's SERP Local Pack won't happen overnight, but by taking the proper steps to optimize your website, Google My Business profile, and focusing on getting a steady stream of reviews from places like Google, Yelp, and other niche-specific review sites, you can start to work your way into that exclusive club of anchored Local Packs.
Are you trying to rank for local results in your city? Drop us a line.
Have a comment or question on what we just covered? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Have a hot local SEO tip to share? Tweet us your favorite.
Looking for a more B2B connection? Follow us on LinkedIn.
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- by Alyson Shane
The most compelling business websites are informational, engaging, and accessible, but it’s not enough to have great content; your website also needs to be optimized to rank well in search engines in order to help prospects and readers find your content.
With this in mind, building a content marketing strategy for your business which includes a strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan is necessary in an area when content is widely available, and the market is more competitive than ever, with 81% of B2B Decision Makers reporting that they conduct research on a company’s products and services before scheduling a vendor meeting. This means that your your website copy needs to be consistent in voice and tone, as well as optimized for SEO.
For content creators in B2B organizations, nailing down the phrases that prospects are plugging into search engines can feel tough. Not only can it seem like an endless process, but some content developers may feel as though they don’t have the necessary tools or expertise to get the job done.
The good news? Content creators in B2B businesses don’t need top-notch tools or years of experience developing high-quality SEO content.
Crafting great content that is SEO-driven for potential leads doesn’t have to be a mind-numbing or frustrating process. Here are some helpful SEO research tips to save you time and convert prospects into active leads:
1. Copy Social Media for Keywords Straight From Your Clients
For both B2B and B2C companies, your social media platforms are a hotbed of useful information and prospect engagement. These channels are commonly used by businesses to share their experiences, thoughts, and opinions.
As a B2B company searching for keywords that your clientele relate to your business, you can use these communication platforms to your advantage by tapping into your network and creating leading questions that allow B2B prospects to share their thoughts on your brand and business.
Twitter polls, for example, allow your online community to weigh in quickly and easily on the topic you’re researching. This means that you can gauge which keywords your audience associates with your brand while allowing for further discussions you can use in other areas of your content marketing strategy.
2. Use Technology to Find Relevant Data
Tools such as Google Analytics and the associated Keyword Planner have been tools of choice for B2B businesses for years. Whether you’re a large organization or a smaller vendor or a product or service, these tools are essential for a successful foray into SEO keyword and content development.
Often used for providing cost-per-click information, average search volume data, and creating paid search campaigns, these tools provide you with measurable data so that you can see what SEO tactics are working, and which you can further refine.
This data helps B2B business’ research and discover opportunities for greater reach, relevant keywords, and move deeper into creating a unique content plan that stands out in your chosen industry.
3. Complete Relevant Keywords Searches in Incognito Mode
If you’re a marketer then you probably have an ever-expanding collection of keywords that relate to your company’s product or service.
When you enter these keywords into your chosen search engine to see where your content is on the results page, you may be surprised to find that you’re close to the top. However, this probably isn’t a coincidence: browsers can use your history or cache to impact the results to make them as relevant to your experience as possible.
In order to conquer this system, you can perform an incognito search. Input your priority or high-performing keywords and then check where your page shows up. Take a gander at the content that fills up the first 5 spots and take notes on their keyword use, spacing, and other SEO factors that may be pushing them up on the results page.
4. Writing SEO Content Based On Keywords
When it comes to actually creating the SEO content, best-in-class content is that which plays into what a prospect wants to read and the specific keywords you should be targeting. Keep your list of developed keywords closeby as you’re creating content and reference back to Google Trends every once in awhile to ensure that your topics and keywords are relevant.
Get ready to gain traffic, earn prospects, and close more B2B deals with content that is SEO-driven and ready to perform. Have you used any of these tools to up your SEO game lately? Tweet at us and let us know!
Want more insight and tools to help your brand stand out online? Download our free ebook Get Social! Content Marketing for You & Your Brand now.