What is SEO content writing? 6 things you need to understand
Seems like I missed a golden opportunity to write about ‘What is SEO content writing (and copywriting)’ at the start of my career. Pretty fundamental to what I do, right?
Other writers: just wait a damn minute. There’s a difference between content writers and copywriters. You can’t lump the two together and ignore the nuance and subtleties of both professions.
Me: I absolutely can because people searching for my services don’t know the difference. For the purposes of SEO, I target both those keywords. Bite me.
So, what the hell is it, SEO content writing AND copywriting?
Maybe you already know. Maybe you don’t care, maybe you’re only here for the LOLs or the sordid sexual references. I dunno, only you know what brings you here.
I’m getting back to basics (and I really need a blog post explaining the thing that I do on my website because again, SEO).
We march on.
1. Brilliant writing
Nothing else matters if your writing ability is that of a pissed, illiterate octogenarian.
Engaging copy is the only way to get the SEO job done. I avoid the description, persuasive copy because it sounds dishonest. You don’t want to twist your potential client’s arm, you want to be upfront and use a style and tone that demonstrates exactly who you are in an honest way. Sure, copywriters have their tricks. It’s their job to evoke an emotion, they know power words and aren’t afraid to use them. They’re down with dwell time, they can make users hang out on your website a little while longer. Just enough time for them to buy all the Disney themed goods in your online store.
I have an adult friend that lives and breathes Disney. It’s hard to believe we’re friends but opposites attract.
All that good stuff happens because of excellent copy. Hiring a content writer (or copywriter) will be one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make. And if you don’t think it’s important, you’re not serious about getting seen by the people who want what you’re selling.
Or you don’t understand the value. That’s why I’m here, to show you.
You might have a GCSE in English and write grammatically correct business emails but that doesn’t make you anything near a content writer. Like any skill, it takes practice. And even if you do practice, being able to be the voice of a brand (even your brand) is something you might not be able to do.
Writing like you speak is difficult. My husband, for example, is witty and smart but when you read his Facebook posts he sounds like a 10-year-old with developmental delay. None of his personality shines through.
Writing well isn’t just about the lengthy stuff. Microcopy – the words on your meta titles for example could be the difference between clicking on your link or scrolling past to your competitor. Don’t misjudge the power of those short phrases, those little nuggets of star copy on your CTAs. Your business slogan, if you have one will be one of the most difficult pieces of text to come up with. Having to describe what it is you do in one phrase is fucking hard but it defines your entire business.
2. Target market
“Know your audience like your own private parts” is a business maxim I like to live by.
It’s also part of my homepage meta description. Not very entrepreneurial or ‘thought leader’ of me but then you can’t imagine me at some annual business summit, on the same bill as Simon Sinek, can you? Absolutely not.
As a business owner knowing who your product is for is fairly basic stuff. You’ve probably researched, tested and mind mapped your way through a business strategy and there really should be no doubt as to who’s buying your shit. At the very least, you sort of know your potential client.
Sorry, what’s that, you don’t have a niche?
Listen cupcake, you have a niche because not everyone wants what you’re selling. In the same way, not everyone thinks you’re smokin’ hot. Sure, your clients might be from different sectors but there’s a commonality that links them, so don’t test my patience.
Don’t forget your competitors.
Google your industry keywords and see who’s landing on the first page. Nosy around their website and make notes on what they’re doing right, also, what they’re doing wrong. Pay close attention to their online copy, how well it’s written, how it makes you feel and how clear the objective is. 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?
3. Formatted content
Sexy, compelling copy 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 shit up! Make it easy to read. Short paragraphs make people happy. Overloading your static webpages with a shit-ton of text will make people leave your site. The only area that requires long-form writing is your blog but even that requires formatting.
Here’s a little summary of things to do when arranging your copy:
- Add purpose-driven, catchy 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.
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 that 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 every lady and her pussycat in your industry is targeting them too. The chances of you being found on the first page of Google for ‘branding photographer’ is pretty slim. My advice is to think about things regionally. If you service a certain area, focus on adding locations to your broad terms. If you google ‘SEO content writer Oxford’ you’ll see me on the first page.
Long-tail keywords (LTKs)
This is where knowing your market comes into play so for all those with niche aversion this might hurt a bit.
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 the LOLs in their writing or at least want to avoid dull, cliché laden business copy. They can be from any sector, niche marketing isn’t necessarily industry-specific. Narrowing your market means reduced traffic but it’s the kind you actually want. Less traffic but 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”
Don’t wind me up. You sound like the niche dodgers. You do have a brand because you run your business using a particular style. It makes no difference if there is one of you or an entire organisation, you have a brand, that’s it. There’s a reason why the brands you know and love stand out to you and it will be for different reasons.
Lemme tell you something, there are thousands of generic and unimaginative businesses out there. Again, google your competitors. Read their terrible copy, they’ll suck the joy right out of you. Pour over their social media content. Let it fortify you, let it make you bolder, fearless even. Develop your unique selling thingy, use your personality as the basis of your business. Just add some damn flavour! You don’t have to be outrageously different, just do what you do and do it, bloody well.
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 fucking 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 how important a blog is to your website.
Your goal is to add focused content around your industry. You’re building an online library of specific, useful information. You should be targeting new keywords and phrases based on each new blog posts and for each new service or product.
“SEO is dead”
Whatever you say person who knows fuck all about SEO.
Similar people might also say that SEO isn’t a factor in client-focused, engaging content. That’s probably because they have antiquated views on content SEO which conjures images of keyword cramming. And you know I’ve told you over and over not to stuff keywords onto your site like augmented breasts into a 34B cup.
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 (me) to do it for you.