There’s an old joke about SEO. It goes like this:
‘How many SEO copywriters does it take to change a lightbulb, light, led lightbulbs, lamp, bulb, halogen, fixtures…?’
How many SEO copywriters does it take to change a lightbulb, light bulb, bulb, lamp, light, eco-bulb, bulbs, flourescent tubes?!
— wizely (@wizely) April 1, 2010
Other variations of this joke make use of the same premise about SEO copywriters and their abuse of keywords.
And there’s some truth to it— SEO copywriting used to be a cesspool.
But now that Google’s algorithm has undergone updates, attracting human readers has become an essential element of SEO copywriting.
Let’s dive in—
SEO copywriting definitions
SEO copywriting is a type of writing that creates content optimized for keywords to appeal to search engine algorithms as well as to human users.
Modern SEO copywriting aims to strike the perfect balance between getting Google’s attention and getting people engaged and persuaded.
If you’re one of those SEO copywriters, click for info on how to do targeted keyword research to help you in your writing.
SEO Tips For Copywriters
Keep in mind, however, that you don’t have to create something artistic when writing copy.
But you do have to write something that could entice readers, pique their interest, and convince them to buy.
Getting people to buy is what makes the world go round—and search engines don’t carry credit cards.
That’s why that balance is so crucial.
Here are a few tips on how to make an effective in-house copy:
1. Write for humans first, search engines second
Copy created to appeal only to search engines is poor copy, filled with shoehorned keywords that no one would bother to read.
That is, except for search engines.
Humans would shun a site with that kind of content.
On the other hand, copy written exclusively for humans would miss out on some crucial keywords that search engine algorithms use to identify topics.
Without optimized keywords, search engines won’t be able to index your content.
Human users would have to dig deep into their search results to find you.
Unfortunately, 95% of users only look at the first page of their search results, so your copy would be effectively invisible.
Copy written for search engines would read like this:
‘If you want a cell phone case, our company offers cell phone cases in various designs.
Our cell phone cases are proven to be tough and durable.
Your cell phone will be protected by our cell phone case.’
If the content sounds robotic, it’s because AI-written copy reads like that.
On the other hand, if you’ve angled your copy exclusively for humans, you’d get something like this:
‘So you want to protect your cell phone? Good idea.
You’d want something that could protect your cell phone from dust, water splashes, and scratches.
But most of all, you want your phone to come out unscathed after a drop.’
It sounds nice, but it’s not well optimized. And without optimized keywords, good luck ranking well.
What a modern SEO copywriter aims for is to write copy that would be recognized and indexed by search engines and get human readers to read them, and convince them to take action.
Copy optimized for search engines and humans would read something like this:
‘Protect your cell phone from dust, water splashes, and scratches.
With our cell phone case, your phone could survive a hundred-foot drop and come out unscathed.’
Copywriters through the years have always aimed to persuade people, convert them, and convince them to buy.
A modern copywriter has to contend not only with people but with SEO and search engines.
Good copy strikes a balance between the two.
When you get that balance, your copy will be found, clicked, read, and shared.
2. Know thine enemy (and thine target audience)
If your SEO copywriting does a good job at focusing on people’s needs and convincing them that the highlighted product or service is the best choice, then a sale could happen.
But you have to find and get to know these people first.
To help you identify your target audience, try to visualize various user personas.
Find out which people use your product.
What do they have in common?
Below are some characteristics that you could use to help you segment them:
- Marital status
- Socioeconomic standing
- Education level
Once you’ve segmented them according to their similar traits, you can now create various personas that you can target.
For example, for your company’s pet products, try to visualize a person named Neil, a coder who owns a cat he calls Snazzy and spends much of his free time on Reddit; he’s looking for a cat bed.
Another could be Christine, a working mother with a six-year-old boy who had just been gifted a Golden Retriever puppy.
Your company’s pet products wouldn’t be of any use to Shirley, a single woman who works nights and is often asleep during the day, or to Jim, a trust-fund kid adrenaline junkie who often travels.
They might be imaginary, but these personas could help humanize your clients for you and make writing copy much easier.
They’d be easier to ‘target.’
3. Use a conversational tone
When writing copy, use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ in your sentences.
SEO copywriting aside—your business is all about the customers.
Your products, research, services, marketing, and others—they’re all for your customers.
When writing copy, embed this in their thinking at the get-go to get them more involved.
Take a look at these statements:
- ‘When a person buys a bed for their cats, they expect the cat use the bed. Cats love Furry Kids cat beds, and they will use them for years to come.’
- ‘Do you have a cat that likes sleeping on your laptop? Give her a Furry Kids cat bed. Your cat will love it, and your laptop will thank you for it.’
The subject might be the same, but the second one has a different tone.
It elicits a closer connection with the readers because it addresses them directly.
You and your reader’s connection became more personal.
4. Write a compelling headline
It was true then, and it’s still true now: Only 2 out of 10 people get past the headline.
The rest don’t bother reading the body.
This is pretty bleak, but for copywriters, this is a challenge to write headlines that would compel readers to read the rest of the copy.
Call it the ‘C’ word (for clickbait) if you want, but it is what it is—you have to somehow get the readers to click and get them to read the rest of the body.
But avoid making your headlines too ‘clickbaity.’ You could turn off people by writing sensationalized headlines.
Here are a few guidelines that could help you:
- Emphasize the benefits that readers can get from your product or service.
- Make sure that it contains your target search term.
- Try to elicit an emotional response.
- Be specific.
For example, instead of writing ‘Acme Soda Has Zero Calories,’ you could write, ‘Get A Body That Would Fit In Your Swimsuit – Drink Acme Soda,’ or something in that vein — a clear SEO copywriting win.
And if you’re writing for a pet products company, you could write something like, ‘5 Ways To Make Your Cat Nuzzle You.’
Remember, headlines are a huge factor in conversions, so make sure your headlines are on point.
Keyword stuffing was the norm before Google’s algorithm updates.
Now, modern copywriters have vastly improved.
They not only have to contend with search engine algorithms, but they also have to write copy that’s compelling enough to attract human readers.
The tips in this article are just the basic ones to get you started.
Remember, if you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals, you’re halfway there.