What do we understand by strategic SEO copywriting?
A short story about expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness
Copywriting is a style of writing that uses content to persuade a particular target group to perform a certain action, such as buying a product or service. It is a type of advertising that is used both online and offline to inform and entice potential customers.
Copywriting can take various forms, for example landing pages, email marketing, online advertising, brochures and is even used on TV and radio. A good copywriter must be able to attract the reader´s attention, pique their interest and ultimately entice them to perform a particular action.
Sounds tricky? It is – and to make it even more complicated, we’ll now throw the SEO component into the mix!
What is SEO copywriting?
SEO copywriting is creating optimized text that appeals to both human users and the algorithms of Google and other search engines. Simply put, SEO copywriting is about creating content that Google deems relevant. But it must also be content that people want to read, link to and share.
An important component of SEO copywriting is determining the right keywords. Choosing the perfect keyword is about search volume, difficulty (i.e., how difficult it is for this keyword to rank highly quickly) and search intent in particular (does the user want information or to conduct a transaction?).
Why is strategic SEO copywriting important for success?
The ‘SEO’ in SEO copywriting really comes into its own when we don’t know if the reader will even read the text, they first have to find it, like the proverbial needle in the Internet haystack. At the end of 2022, there were 1.97 billion registered websites, each with hundreds, if not thousands, of subpages. So, it´s clear that if a page (not a site) is not optimized for search engines, the chance of the content on it being seen is zero.
The basics of SEO and content marketing
What are the objectives of SEO?
7.5 million blog posts are published daily. Anyone wanting to stay afloat in this huge ocean of information must do everything they can to make sure that Google and other search engines consider their content relevant for a particular search query. Search engines are powered by relevance.
In fact, it is basically their entire raison d’etre. If they deliver irrelevant results, they will be redundant. The top priority for SEO and therefore copywriting is to signal relevance to search engines.
How does content marketing work?
Content marketing refers to the creation and distribution of content that is of interest to a particular target group of users and that aims to direct awareness to a product or service and promote interaction with potential customers. The objective is to build relationships and earn trust using different types of content such as blog posts, videos, infographics, email marketing and social media. This requires accurate analysis and knowledge of the interests of the target group in order to adapt the content accordingly, which is a challenge in itself. The tone must then be adapted to the brand positioning, and, as ever, optimized for all search engines.
Step-by-step instructions for successful SEO copywriting
What is the right word or keyword for my website to attract the most interest? This question can be answered using keyword research.
Keyword research – where to find the best keywords
The aim of keyword research is to find the relevant keywords favored by users of search engines such as Google, Bing, etc. to find content that is relevant for your website or your company.
The ideal keyword is one that offers a high search volume, is relevant for your content and is ideally low-competition.
It is also important to choose a keyword that corresponds to the user´s search intent. If the content is purely informative, this is the basis upon which to choose a keyword.
To analyze all this information, SEO copywriters use special tools such as Semrush or Surfer SEO. Professional tools provide all the requisite information on topics such as search volume, search intent, keyword difficulty and the competition.
They will also provide alternatives for the search terms entered and, where applicable, help to create content clusters. But more on that later.
Types of keywords
Informational keywords are terms or phrases used by online searchers to look for information about something specific. These keywords include questions like ”How does X work? or What is Y?
These keywords are concerned first and foremost with which brand or service provider could theoretically meet the reader´s needs. For example: Best running shoes for rough terrain.
Transactional keywords are search terms linked directly to a purchase or an action. They are often used by customers just before they decide to buy. Examples of transactional keywords are buy, order or buy now. Content optimized for such keywords is particularly discernible from strategically placed Calls to Action. Sounds familiar, no?
These keywords often have lower competition. They are longer and more specific search terms that tend to have a lower search volume but higher intent and quality. They can also help you to optimize your website for more specific searches and to compete in niche markets.
So, we can see how SEO copywriting requires a strategy and that the order of the keywords forms the traditional sales funnel: raising awareness, providing information, building trust, garnering interest and culminating in a purchase with the traditional Call to Action – “Buy now!”, “Book now!”.
So we know which terms and topics are relevant and of interest to the reader. We also know at which point of the buying process we must engage the user. Now we have to structure the articles on our website in such a way that they are easily crawlable for search engine bots and deemed relevant by Google. This is where content clusters come in.
A content cluster is a way of organizing content around topics and presenting it in a hierarchical structure. Grouping similar topics together in a cluster can improve both user navigation and content searchability. A content cluster can also be used to improve the content coverage of a website or blog and to ensure that different aspects of a topic are addressed.
In contrast to product pages, which are intended initially to sell and are therefore subject to certain content restrictions, blogs offer more freedom for copywriters.
A trusted agent
A large proportion of goods and services is procured via the Internet. And even if the actual purchase or contract takes place offline, a great deal of information is exchanged online beforehand.
This presents search engines like Google with a difficult task: If Google puts untrustworthy providers of goods and services above trustworthy ones, the reputation of the search engine suffers, something that search engines are all too aware of. Just as I would never ask advice from someone who once gave me bad – or worse, negligent – advice, I would never again use a search engine that put an untrustworthy or even fraudulent platform at the top of the list.
How can trustworthiness be measured in bits and bytes?
In addition to technical parameters like SSL encryption between user and web server, which provides a protected space in which passwords or credit card details can be exchanged securely, Google has developed the E-A-T concept.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness
It was introduced initially to combat misinformation, particularly in the fields of medicine (77% of Americans said in a survey that they look up their medical symptoms online) and finance.
In the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines, E-A-T is mentioned (directly or indirectly) 135 times. For every major update to the algorithm (CoreUpdate), Google publishes what site owners should know about Google’s core update, which devotes an entire section to E-A-T.
While E-A-T is not a ranking factor as such (like mobile-friendliness, https or backlinks) it does appear to have played a fundamental role in many of the core algorithm updates in recent years.
So, what does it actually mean?
Expertise refers to the ability of copywriters to create high-quality, accurate and informative content. To show Google that your website has expertise, ensure that your content is well researched and written by experts with the requisite specialist knowledge.
Authority relates to the degree to which other websites trust and respect your website. The authority of a website is measured essentially on how many and which other websites link to it. The more reputable websites link to your website, the more authority Google gives your website.
Trustworthiness is about making the purpose of your website transparent and offering a good user experience. Your website should be easy to use and navigate, and visitors should be able to easily find what they are looking for. Transparently citing (qualified) authors or reader reviews can also help to increase the trustworthiness of a page or even a complete website.
So, we can see that SEO copywriting is not just about the search engine, but must also provide a real benefit and accurate content for readers. And Google is well aware of what is at stake in this regard, for example when providing financial or medical information on the first page of search results.
What about the competition?
So far, we have only looked at how it all affects us. But what is the competition up to?
This is a special case in which the competition is not the other company vying for market share; it is the websites that rank for precisely the keyword we want to write about.
And we want our article to rank near the top. Before we start writing our article, however, we should take a closer look at the type of content other SEO copywriters have created that has been deemed relevant by Google and thus ranked highly.
Here too, professional tools are available – they use NLP (Natural Language Processing) to carry out precise semantic analyses to determine what content Google has deemed relevant and thus offer solutions for particular search queries.
Of course, we can use a simple search ourselves to determine who ranks top, but these tools can tell us why.
Tips and best practices for effective SEO copywriting
SEO copywriting is an important part of search engine marketing. While it is important that your content is optimized for search engines in order to achieve a higher ranking and generate more organic traffic, SEO texts should also offer added value for the reader. Here are some tips to help you improve your SEO copywriting:
- Use unique and relevant keywords that are appropriate for your subject matter and target audience.
- Create high-quality content that is relevant and informative for your audience.
- Link your content with other relevant sites to reinforce the authority of your site. These backlinks are extremely important for SEO.
- Optimize your content for mobile browsing to reach more customers. In March 2021, Google switched to mobile first indexing.
- Create pages with easy-to-read, structured passages to attract more visitors and encourage them to stay on your website longer.
- Use metadata to better optimize your content for search engines.
- Avoid SEO cliches that offer no added value for the reader.
- Always use natural language in SEO copywriting to convey a unique tone and character.
- Use keywords but do not underestimate the value of content writing to produce natural language.
- Avoid repeating the same content over and over.
- Use clear Calls to Action in the right place to trigger certain actions (download ePaper, contact form, buy) by visitors.
- Steer clear of keyword stuffing (repeated use of a particular search term).
SEO copywriting is a subdiscipline of copywriting with a special focus on making online content stand out on the world wide web. While it is a combination of two non-exact sciences – copywriting and search engine optimization – there are clear rules that, if followed, will deliver ranking results.
Even if these rules vary slightly thanks to constant (core) updates, there are principles such as E-A-T that have long, been an integral part of SEO.
A good SEO text is also always one that is easy and enjoyable to read. SEO copywriters should worry less about writing for Google and much more about writing for potential customers.
Here too, what David Ogilvy says applies:
“You cannot bore people into buying your product – you can only interest them in buying it.”
SEO’s job therefore is to bring the text to as many people as possible in the search results, and strategic SEO copywriting takes care of the rest.