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17 SEO Copywriting Tips To Help Your Rankings



17 SEO Copywriting Tips To Help Your Rankings

Writing is already hard enough, but writing with the goal of ranking in Google requires even more strategic planning.

Successful SEO copywriters consider what users want, and how search engines actually work, throughout their writing process.

For those site owners who want to grow their visibility through content, understanding SEO copywriting is the right place to start.

What Is SEO Copywriting?

SEO copywriting is the process of creating content with the goal of ranking in search engines for relevant keywords.

The process can be applied to your homepage, product pages, blog posts, or even your profiles on review sites.

When done well, SEO copywriting can increase the total number of keywords that your content ranks for.

Why Does SEO Copywriting Matter To Ranking?

Google relies on natural language processing to understand what users are searching for and what our content is about.

Over the years, NLP models have gotten far more advanced.

If you want to learn more about NLP technology, put some of your own website content into Google’s Natural Language API Demo.

Then, see how Google works to understand it.

Screenshot from Google’s Natural Language Processing API Demo Tool, December 2021
Syntax Analysis in Google's Natural Language Processing API Demo ToolScreenshot from Google’s Natural Language Processing API Demo Tool, December 2021

Because of Google’s advancements in NLP, SEO copywriting has evolved to be far less about quick tricks and far more about creating informative and valuable content for users.

But as seen above, Google is still a robot.

SEO copywriters should consider how search engine technology actually works and leverage that knowledge when writing their content.

SEO Copywriting Tips For Better Rankings

The best content will always be created with users in mind.

But, there are strategic choices copywriters can make to help crawlers better understand their content and promote it accordingly.

Here are some SEO copywriting tips for creating content that is loved by both users and search engines alike.

Research And Prewriting

1. Choose A Realistic Keyword Goal

Before you start writing, you should have a clear keyword target in mind. But make sure you set your content up for success by setting realistic and achievable keyword goals.

Keyword research is the foundation of the SEO copywriting process.

You might be tempted to choose industry keywords that have higher search volume, but those keywords are often extremely competitive.

If you are a website with less authority, you’re unlikely to rank on page one for those terms, no matter how high-quality your content is.

So how do you know if your content stands a chance of ranking?

Keyword difficulty scores can serve as a benchmark for your keyword goals.

Keyword difficulty score in the SearchAtlas keyword researcher toolScreenshot from SearchAtlas, December 2021
Keyword Difficulty score in Ahref's Keyword ExplorerScreenshot from Ahrefs, December 2021

I suggest finding relevant keywords with difficulty scores that are less than or equal to your site’s DA.

These keywords might be long-tail or have more informational search intent, but they can present real opportunities for your content to rank quickly and start driving clicks.

2. Analyze The Top-Ranking Content 

Want to know what it will take to rank? Look at the content that is already on page one.

Review the top-ranking pieces of content and use them as models for your own content creation.

How long is the content? What are the page titles and meta descriptions that are enticing the users to click?

Top-Ranking Content for the Keyword Screenshot from SearchAtlas, December 2021

The goal here is not to create a carbon copy of your competitors, but to better understand what content, authority, and page experience signals that Google crawlers are responding to.

3. Understand And Write For Search Intent

Search intent is often narrowed down into four categories: Navigational, Informational, Transactional, and Commercial.

The search intent of your target keyword determines what type of content you should create.

For transactional keywords, Google is more likely to promote product or service pages knowing that the user wants to make a purchase.

For informational queries, Google more often ranks blogs, top-ten lists, how-to articles, and resource-driven content types.

Most likely, your keyword can be categorized in the above four categories, so strive to meet that intent with your content.

4. Outline Your Structure

Not all content outlines will look exactly alike, but the idea is to determine the overall topic, subtopics, headings, and main points the content will include.

If you’re optimizing properly, your keyword targets will have a prominent place in these structural components.

Not all copywriters like to work from outlines, but they can be very useful in ensuring proper on-page SEO practices.

5. Prioritize Quality Over Everything Else

Google wants to rank quality content for its users.

But what is quality in the eyes of crawlers? Relevance, load times, backlinks, and referring domains, to name just a few.

In terms of the quality signals that are communicated through the writing, Google is looking for:

  • Comprehensive, in-depth content.
  • Original reporting and analysis.
  • Expert authorship and sourcing.
  • Proper grammar and spelling.

Do your best to meet these signals, and Google is more likely to see your website as high-quality.

The SEO Copywriting Process

6. Explore Your Topic In-depth

Although content length is not a ranking factor, there is a strong correlation between longer content and top rankings.

That’s because long content is more likely to display the quality signals listed in tip #5. Additional studies have shown that longer content also earns more backlinks and social engagements.

So do your best to be comprehensive and explore your content in-depth.

Keyword tools can help you expand on your content by showing you the subtopics that have a relationship to your keyword goal.

7. Write For Passage Ranking

Google’s Passage Ranking update went live in early 2021. As a result, Google no longer just indexes and ranks web pages, but specific passages of content.

For example, the below content provides a thorough answer to the search query, [What is an SEO assistant?].

When the user clicks on the SERP result, Google has indexed the exact part of the web page that answers that question and highlights it for users.

Example of Passage Ranking from ZipRecruiterScreenshot from ZipRecruiter, December 2021

Passage Ranking means that your content has so many opportunities to rank for multiple queries.

Strategic use of structure, headlines, and questions is key to helping passages of your content rank well in search.

8. Use A Content Optimization Tool

Leveraging AI and NLP tools can result in major boosts in keyword rankings.

Clearscope, SearchAtlas, SEMrush, and others all have content optimization software that eliminates some of the guesswork of the SEO copywriting process.

These tools identify common words and topics used in top-ranking content and suggest similar terms for you to include in yours. As long as you incorporate them naturally, the results can be significant.

Screenshot from Google Search Console showing increased impressions and average positionsScreenshot of Google Search Console, December 2021

I’ve seen content tools have an almost immediate impact on the total number of keywords, impressions, and average positions that web pages earn.

More SEO copywriters should be using them.

9. Offer Answers To Related Questions

Another way to improve keyword rankings is to answer common questions that users are asking in relation to your target keyword.

There are a couple of ways you can find out what these questions are: Google Search and a keyword tool.

Look to People Also Ask and autocomplete to see what common questions people are asking about the topic. Then, make sure you include those questions and their answers in your content.

Screenshot from Google displaying autcompletesScreenshot from search for [how to fix garbage disposal], Google, December 2021

Similarly, some keyword tools can tell you the common questions that searchers are asking.

Screenshot of showing people also askScreenshot from search for [how to fix garbage disposal], Google, December 2021

10. Include Synonyms And Keywords In Your Headings

It’s important to include your keywords in your h1s and h2s, but Google is now smart enough to understand synonyms and other related terms.

Choose words that have a semantic relationship with your primary keyword target.

Google’s NLP algorithms use them to understand your content more deeply.

Adding these terms into your headings can help you signal strong relevance but without keyword stuffing.

11. Avoid Long Sentences, Long Paragraphs, And Misspellings

In terms of readability, you want your content to be easily understood by a variety of people. If your content is too academic or technical, some may choose to bounce back to the SERPs.

Similarly, content that is poorly written or full of typos will deter readers.

Aim for shorter sentences and paragraphs to improve the reading experience.

Some SEO tools suggest a grade level, but the idea is to keep the language simple and accessible to as many people as possible.

Copywriting Extras

12. Break Up Your Content With Rich Media

Although long-form text is important to ranking, your content should have other non-textual elements that help readers stay engaged.

Make sure you include images, videos, or infographics in your content, particularly to break up long passages of text.

Google likes to see content that incorporates rich media, so leverage it to your advantage.

If that rich media slows down the performance of your pages though, it can work against you. So make sure any rich media is optimized for speed and performance.

13. Include Relevant Links With Contextual Anchor Text

Your internal and external links, as well as the anchor text of those links, are also important quality signals to Google.

Make sure you link to relevant, authoritative sources. Also, make sure you utilize anchor text best practices:

  • Anchor text should be relevant to the destination page.
  • Don’t use too much exact match anchor text.
  • Avoid generic anchor text (e.g. “click here”).
  • Use contextual anchor text as often as possible.

14. Make Your Content Easy To Navigate 

Features like a table of contents and jumplinks make your content more user-friendly.

This is particularly true for longer articles or resource pages.

adding jumplinks in wordpressScreenshot from WordPress, December 2021

Google crawlers like to see these navigational elements on the page that improve UX. Make sure you incorporate them whenever you can.

After The Writing

15. Make Sure That Google Understands Your Content

A week or so after you publish your content, login into your Google Search Console account to confirm that Google is understanding it correctly.

See what keywords you are earning impressions for.

If they are close to or relevant to your original keyword goal, great. If not, you may need to revise the content.

Higher positions and clicks will come with time and authority building, but impressions are a good early sign that Google understands your content and knows when to promote it.

16. Optimize And Test Your Meta Tags

Google now rewrites page titles and meta descriptions when it sees fit, but this only happens about 20% of the time.

It is still important to write optimized meta tags so Google understands your content and users are enticed to click.

However, you don’t have to take a one-and-done approach to meta tag optimization.

If after several months, your content gets to page one but still has a low click-through rate, test out page titles and meta descriptions to see which produce the best results.

17. Revise And Update Accordingly

Over time, your content will eventually become outdated.

New information may become available, keywords may grow more competitive, links may break, and more.

So make sure to revisit old or underperforming content to see if more attention is needed.

Your most important content assets should be updated at least once a year, particularly if they are discussing industry trends or analysis.

Final Thoughts On SEO Copywriting

The reality is, SEO copywriting doesn’t end after the content is published on your website.

The internet changes, algorithms evolve, and your content needs to be updated accordingly.

If you deploy this final tip, you can increase the shelf-life of your content so it maintains top keyword rankings for years to come.

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data




Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

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What Is It & How To Write It




What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:


Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.


What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds




Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.

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