Copywriting with SEO in mind can feel like speaking two languages at once. You’re trying to successfully communicate with readers, which often requires being friendly, helpful, and entirely approachable. At the same time, you’re aiming to satisfy ever-changing search algorithms, which can be overwhelmingly technical and—in this marketer’s opinion—a little stiff. So, how do you write great copy that follows SEO best practices and appeals to readers?
Search engines are designed to show people the most helpful, relevant information available. With the very same goal in mind, strong website copy is clear, concise, and easy to read. It delivers valuable information with a hint of your brand’s personality. Write with the reader in mind and your keywords will fall into place naturally. Resist the temptation to stuff each sentence with search terms.
Create a list of keywords and phrases people might search to find your website or content. Not sure where to start? Answer the Public and Google Trends can help guide you in the right direction. The trick is to think like a customer; what would you search if you were looking for your own product or service?
Your list should include keywords and phrases with a mix of search intent, meaning the purpose of someone’s search. Are they looking for information? Are they ready to make a transaction? Are they looking for a specific type of page, such as a blog or a clearance section?
Complete your list by looking for possible combinations and alternatives. This will help ensure that you have plenty of options to choose from while writing, so you can find what flows best without wondering whether you’re on the right track.
In both short-form and long-form copy, place your main topic or keyword toward the beginning of the sentence, paragraph, or title. This helps search engines easily recognize what your web page is about. It also ensures that any snippets shown in search results will include your primary subject, sending a clear message to users and helping them spot your helpful content.
Stories keep people engaged. As Yoast explains, “Storytelling is good for SEO because it will make your post nice to read. And, creating content that people like is exactly what Google wants.” Plus, the benefits go beyond pleasing readers. “If people like your content, you’ll also have a higher chance that people will remain on your website. Your time on page increases and your bounce rate will decrease. These factors will help tremendously with the ranking of your post.”
This may feel silly at first, but it works! Reading your copy out loud is easily the best way to identify phrases and sentences that feel forced, jargony, dry, or inhuman. It’s also a great way to understand whether you’ve stuffed too many keywords in one place: if it sounds like overkill to you, a customer will probably feel the same way. On the other hand, if you find yourself reading aloud and wondering “Wait, what am I talking about?” then it’s time to use more keywords from your list.