Looks like I skipped writing that key blog post What is SEO content writing at the start of my career. Pretty fundamental to what I do, right? Yeah, I’m a schmuck. To add to the confusion, I sometimes talk about copywriting—I know, all you want is some goddam clarity!
OK, let me start by clearing that up. There is a difference between content writing and copywriting. Content writing attracts traffic to your online home—namely, your website. Copywriting is used when we want our visitors to make a swift decision (download a thing or buy a thing, for example).
This article is about what I mostly do (and what I teach others to do) SEO content writing. So, what is SEO content writing? Here are my 6 things to know:
1. Brilliant writing.
Nothing else matters if your writing ability is that of a pissed, illiterate welk.
Yes, we each decide what we think brilliant writing is and it’s often a fine balance between the content you like to produce and the stuff your audience wants/needs to consume. Engaging content has become a meaningless phrase. It certainly isn’t any one thing because every audience will be different. Engagement happens when the message hits the right human.
As an SEO content writer, I believe you should be upfront with your audience. Use a style and tone that demonstrates exactly who you are in business. Sure, writers have their tricks. It’s their job to evoke an emotion. They know their power words and aren’t afraid to use them. They’re down with dwell time and therefore make users hang out on your website a little while longer.
The really brilliant thing about brilliant writing is this: good stuff happens because of words.
Hiring a writer will be one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make. And if you don’t think content is important, you’re not serious about getting seen by the people you wish to attract/need to hear the message you’re proclaiming. I don’t mean to dis you, you might have a GCSE in English and write grammatically correct business emails, but that doesn’t make you a content writer. Like any skill, it takes know-how and practice.
2. Target market.
Know your audience like your own private parts is a business maxim I choose to live by.
As a business owner, knowing who your product is for is marketing 101. You’ve probably researched, tested, and mind-mapped your way through a business strategy so there really should be no doubt as to who’s buying your shit. At the very least, you should sort of know who your potential client is.
Don’t forget your competitors.
Google your industry keywords and see who’s landing on the first page. Nosy around their websites and make notes on what they’re doing right—also—what they’re doing wrong. Pay close attention to their online copy. How well is it written? How does it make you feel? And how clear is the objective? Imagine you’re a prospect of theirs, can you figure out what it is they’re selling? Is it easy to buy? Can you guess what audience they’re appealing to?
So many bloody questions!
3. Formatted content.
Sexy, compelling wordage is all well and good but the writing alone won’t win the day.
If you’ve written 2000 words I would presume you’re not going to dump that in one huge chunk on a webpage. Please tell me that isn’t going to happen. Break that text up! Make it easy to read. Short paragraphs make people happy. Overloading your static web pages with a shit-ton of content will make people leave your site.
Here’s a little summary of things to do when arranging your copy:
- Add purpose-driven enticing headings and subheadings
- Add internal links
- Add relevant images with SEO-optimised titles
- Add CTAs where applicable
You’re doing all this for a better user experience. That folks, is SEO.
A part of formatting the content also involves some technical SEO aspects. I’m talking about the content writing that is specific to your business website. That means getting dirty with the way parts of your site are structured and how well-optimised it is for content visibility.
I know, boring right?!
It follows that a website is already targeting certain keywords. If yours isn’t, I don’t know how to deal with you. There are different sorts of keywords and I can’t be arsed to list them all but here are a few.
Also called competitive keywords. Think about your industry terms. Those words and short phrases talk about what it is you do. For example, ‘web designer’, ‘branding photographer’ or ‘stamp licker’. These will yield lots of organic traffic—but they’re called competitive for a reason, and that reason is this: every lady and her pussycat in your industry is targeting them. The chances of you being found on the first page of Google for ‘branding photographer’ is pretty slim.
Long-tail keywords (LTKs).
This is where knowing your market comes into play. LTKs are detailed phrases that describe exactly what it is you do. Have a think about what you offer and who’s buying it, for example, I’m a ‘funny business blogger’ for business types who want ‘business copywriting with personality’. These are just two of the many variations of phrases based on what I do. If you haven’t guessed, my niche is people who want LOLs in their writing, or at least, want to avoid dull cliché laden business guff. They can be from any sector and niche marketing isn’t necessarily industry-specific. And yes, Karen, narrowing your market means reduced traffic but the traffic you get will be the kind you want.
So, detailed keyword phrases equal a higher conversion rate.
Keywords with user intent.
Match up your targeted keywords with your prospects’ search behaviours. You have three kinds of user intent:
- Navigational: find a specific website/page
- Informational: find info around a topic
- Transactional: find a service/product to buy
Google one of your terms and see how the search results coincide with the three types of intent. If you want to know more about this, read my blog post on this very subject.
5. Your brand.
“I don’t have a brand.”
Yeah, you do. You have a brand because you have a business. It makes no difference if there is one of you or an entire organisation, you have a brand, that’s it. All you need to do now is figure out what it is.
FYI: there are thousands of generic unimaginative businesses out there—AKA your competitors. Read their terrible content, pour over their social media posts and let the experience fortify you. Let it boldly make this promise to yourself: “I will NEVER be like them”. Develop your unique selling thingy, use your personality as the basis of your brand and add some damn flavour!
Everything I’ve mentioned requires you to keep doing it. SEO is only successful when you make a consistent investment.
Sorry, there are no quick wins with SEO.
Blogging is an excellent example. Your blog is one of the most important things for SEO content writing but only if you’re committed to writing often. This is your prime spot for adding long-form content. Detailed, easy-to-read blog posts that are helping your audience. When people are searching with informational intent they will find the answers on the web via a blog post. Never, for the love of cheese-stuffed pizza crusts underestimate the power of blogging.
SEO is not dead.
Also, SEO content writing is engaging content.
It’s always about writing for a human and never about trying to cheat an algorithm. Understand the value of beautifully written words and if you can’t do it for your business hire someone to do it for you.
I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).