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4 SEO Copywriting Tips For Sharper, More Effective Copy

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4 SEO Copywriting Tips For Sharper, More Effective Copy

I can’t remember the last time a website I worked on was delayed for technical reasons.

It’s never the coding that causes delays.

It’s always the copy.

Everyone thinks they can write copy until they are presented with a blank page.

The people in your organization may be subject matter experts – but that doesn’t mean they can meet a copywriting deadline.

Copywriting is hard.

Writing copy that is SEO friendly can be intimidating.

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But even novice SEO copywriters can make a huge difference by doing a few simple things.

1. Target 2–3 Keywords Or Keyword Phrases

Many new SEO copywriters make the mistake of targeting too many keywords or keyword phrases on a page.

In my experience, if you are trying to target more than two to three keyword phrases on a single page, your copy will sound scattered.

Focused copy is typically the best sales copy.

And even in long-form pieces, targeting too many keywords – especially non-related keywords – results in copy that doesn’t grab the reader.

Copy that is not focused does not move the reader to the desired action – in other words, the conversion.

I recently was part of a Twitter conversation where the participants were lambasting a conference speaker for saying that a blog post should be 2,500 words.

The conference speaker may be right.

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The conference speaker may be wrong.

There is no “magic word count” number that a post should be.

Your content should be as long as it needs to answer your site visitors’ questions adequately.

If you can answer the question in 50 words, you may only need 50 words on that page.

As long as both site visitors and search engine robots can determine the page’s context, you should be golden.

No need to count your words.

Your visitors don’t care about the length of your blog post.

And contrary to some conference speaker opinions, Google doesn’t care how long your post is either.

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Writing copy that is too “big for its britches” tends to be unfocused.

Long-form copy is great for customers looking for information or at the top of the buying funnel.

But visitors ready to buy or become a lead have most likely done their homework.

Rehashing information they already know is more likely to cause the visitor to lose focus, leave, and not become a sale or lead.

But even the most grizzled copywriting pros benefit from targeting just a couple of keyword phrases in their writing.

The writing tends to become crisper and more focused.

And it tends to convert better.

2. Break Up Your Copy

Large walls of words can be intimidating on a web page.

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When a visitor encounters a page that is nothing but pixels and pixels of copy, it can be off-putting enough to procrastinate, thus causing the visitor to leave the page.

Using graphic elements such as bulleted or numbers lists, pull quotes, ample images, etc.

Webmasters can turn intimidating-looking walls of words into attractive web pages that actually convert visitors into buyers.

I’ve seen a page go from not converting anyone into anything to sales machines merely by making simple adjustments to the formatting of the page.

One thing that baffles me is the reluctance of B2B marketers to put any images of a living, breathing human being on their page.

We know that images of smiling, happy people typically increase conversion rates on B2C pages, but we forget that B2B customers are merely B2B consumers at work.

But do I know that an image of a real, happy smiling customer will increase the conversion rate of your blog post?

No, I do not.

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In fact, I’d want to test several combinations of graphic tweaks on a wall of words to figure out what works.

The other day some fellow agency owners and I were talking about the unique selling points of our agency.

My friend said he thought his agency may have performed more A/B tests than any other agency currently in business today.

In my opinion, that’s an amazing selling proposition.

He certainly knows that images of smiling, happy people aren’t just for consumer products anymore.

3. Keep Your Keywords On A Post-it Note

Everyone knows when you are watching your weight, one of the most beneficial things you can do is track your caloric intake.

When writing copy with an SEO focus, it’s important to keep track of the words you are writing.

Specifically, it’s important to understand how frequently you use your keyword phrase throughout your copy.

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Just as with the overall word count, there isn’t a hard and fast limit on how many times you can use a keyword in a specific piece of copy.

Novice SEO writers tend to stuff the copy full of keywords, so it reads like a repetitive catalog entry.

This is not the way.

The copy must make sense to the end consumer.

The copy needs to appeal to the search engine robots, so they know what the content is about, but the context doesn’t need to be telegraphed.

You don’t have to hit the search engine over the head with signals that a page is about a certain keyword phrase.

Anecdotal, I tell writers to try to include each targeted phrase in a block of copy at least two times.

But there are many times it makes sense to use a phrase more than two times.

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I would caution just using a keyword phrase one time.

For phrases that aren’t as competitive, with other signals, you can rank a page with just one keyword phrase mention, but more often, it takes more than just one mention.

But that brings in the post-it note.

When creating SEO copy, I write my keywords down on a post-it note that I place beside my keyboard.

As I write the copy, I make check marks for each keyword phrase as I use it.

But I try not to count the keyword phrases as I write the first draft.

I just put down a checkmark every time I use the phrase.

Once I finish my first draft, I read through it to make sure it makes sense and I count my keyword mentions to make sure I’ve gotten everything in.

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If everything isn’t included, or if I found that the copy didn’t flow around the targeted keywords, I re-organize and start again.

It can be a frustrating process at first, but eventually, you’ll get to where you can just make tweaks to the draft to go live with a final version.

4. Read The Copy Out Loud

When in doubt, read your copy out loud.

If you still aren’t sure, read it aloud to someone else.

When you read the copy out loud, you aren’t necessarily looking for ways to make the copy better – it should be good by the time it gets to this point.

Reading the copy aloud helps SEO specialists and Webmasters understand if the copy flows.

When we try to stick a round peg into a square hole, it doesn’t fit.

The same is true when we try to target a keyword on a page where the context doesn’t match the intent of the targeted phrase.

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Reading copy out loud will almost always uncover if a page is over-stuffed with keywords.

What we find is that you can actually fit a lot more keywords into the copy than you think – and the flow still works.

Usually, by reading the copy out loud we find at least one to two more instances where we could logically use a keyword phrase in the copy.

In Conclusion

There are simple steps any copywriter can take to make their content more SEO friendly.

And those steps don’t take years of training to perfect.

Always be testing, and realize that if the search engines understand the copy’s context and users are persuaded to take some sort of desired action, you are golden.

More resources:


Featured Image: YoloStock/Shutterstock

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SEO

7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

There’s an old maxim in the marketing world, “content is king.” This has been true as long as search engine optimization has been around, and probably dates back even further in the world of general marketing.

But as simple as that adage is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, namely what kind of content?

In those early SEO days, it meant identifying your keywords and jamming them into pages anywhere they would fit.

But modern digital marketers are smarter (not to mention that strategy doesn’t work anymore).

These days, successful content starts with a plan that’s backed up by numbers, a data-driven content strategy, if you will.

But what exactly does that mean?

In simple terms, it means developing content using an approach built on user information. This can include information like demographics, survey answers, consumer preferences, etc.

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You probably don’t need to be told why this is important, but just to make sure there’s no doubt, let’s be clear: Using a data-driven content strategy helps you decide where to spend your time, effort, and money.

In other words, you have finite resources. You don’t want to waste them on people who aren’t likely to convert.

A data-driven content strategy allows you to tailor your marketing campaigns to generate the best ROI.

For the purposes of search engine and PPC specialists, it can help you decide which keywords to go after, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience.

Sounds simple enough, right? All you need to do is pop open your content research tool and look for commonalities, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

But never fear, that’s why you’re here.

In this helpful guide, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach to developing, implementing, and optimizing your very own data-driven content strategy.

Ready to get started?

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1. Set Your Content Goals

The very first thing you need to decide is what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make some choices.

Do you want to increase traffic? Are you looking to make sales? Do you want more leads?

Determine what your content goals are and identify the channels best suited to meet them. Once you’ve done this, you can establish your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Be sure to keep this in mind while you’re creating content.

Everything you add to your website or campaign should serve a purpose. If you’re not sure what it’s doing, your audience won’t know either.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out who to go after to make it happen.

Comb through the demographic data and other information you have access to. Spot commonalities that occur across many or some of your targets.

Many marketers find it helpful to create customer personas. Using your data, imagine a typical person for each of the various roles you’re targeting.

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For example, you may have a prospect persona, a lead persona, a buyer persona and a repeat persona.

Put yourself in the shoes of these imaginary people.

What type of language resonates with them? What is their highest level of education? Do they want professionalism or personability? Why are they on your website? What do they hope to accomplish with your help? Be as detailed as you can.

Many marketers even give them a name. For example, if you were creating personas for your plumbing supply company, you may have:

Lead Larry – 45 years old

A mid-career plumber, Lead Larry owns his own one-man business. He makes $75,000 a year. He went to a trade school and his work van is 6 years old. He’s looking for a way to reduce overhead and find cheaper parts than his local supply company. He values hard work, honesty, and professionalism.

Be as creative and detailed as you like, just remember this isn’t a fiction-writing exercise. You’re creating personas based on your typical target, so keep your persona in line with who they actually are.

3. Review Your Competitor’s Content And Do Topical Research

Now it’s time to take a look at what the competition is doing. Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, but they’re probably putting some effort into their campaigns, too.

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Review what they’re doing and look for what appears to be working.

For example, if they’re blogging, they may have a view counter on the page. If so, what type of blogs are getting the best results?

Look for trends in your industry. What’s everyone talking about? Is there a big trade show coming up? Or a new technology about to be released?

Figure out who you’re competing with for clicks, not just to see what’s working for them, but also to gain ideas for content of your own. Start making a list of things you want to cover.

If there are influencers in your niche, this is also a good time to check and see what they’re posting about.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve settled on what your content should be, it’s time to perform that old SEO staple: keyword research.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, Semrush, or something platform-specific like YouTube’s Search Insights, figure out the type of language your content needs to use.

This will help you in more than just the SEO aspect, too.

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Using keywords in your content demonstrates to your audience that you speak the same language they do. And that doesn’t mean English, it means using the nomenclature everyone in the niche will understand.

Going back to our plumbing supply example, that means referring to a product as a “three-fourths full port threaded ball valve,” rather than a “metal connection thingy.”

Okay, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

The good thing is that you probably already have a working, if not expert knowledge of this.

5. Create Content That Aligns With Your Goals

If you remember, the very first step to creating a data-driven content plan was to determine your goals.

Now, equipped with everything you’ve done since then, it’s time to create the content that addresses them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write the kind of content your audience wants. And you’ve already done a lot of the foundational work – now it’s just time to put everything together.

Your content could take nearly any form, videos, blog posts, infographics, case studies, or white papers.

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If you’re not comfortable doing these on your own, it should be reasonably easy to find a writer or videographer in your area or extended network. Just ask your connections for recommendations.

If you’re still not confident in your ability to deliver or you can’t afford to hire someone, don’t worry. We have an excellent piece that will walk you through everything you need to know about content creation.

6. Promote Your Content On The Right Channels

You’ve created your masterpiece of relevant content. Now it’s time to share it with the world. But how do you do that? Do you just post it on your corporate blog and wait for Google to index it?

You could take that kind of passive approach, but this is great stuff you’ve just made. Everyone in your niche will want to consume it. And to make sure you get the eyes you want on it, it’s time to promote it.

But before you go linking to it on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and every other social media platform and aggregator site you can think of, pause for a minute.

When you were developing your user personas, you hopefully received some data about where your targets live online.

Are they regular Twitter users? Do they haunt industry-specific forums? Are you connected to them via Slack or other instant messenger apps?

Find out where they hang out and post away. In most cases, if you’re not sure if your targets use a platform or not, you should just go ahead and post anyway.

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There are some sites where you can be dinged for unpopular content (Reddit, for example), but most of the time, there’s no harm.

This is also a time to start thinking about how you can repurpose your new content.

Do you have an opportunity for a guest blog post on another site? Or, would your new infographic fit perfectly in your next investor report?

If your data-driven content is built on the solid principles we’ve discussed, it will get engagements.

7. Use Analytics To Measure Results

After your content goes live, you can begin measuring your ROI to see what you did well, where you missed the mark, and what could be optimized to perform better.

This is where the KPIs discussed back in step one come back into play.

Some of these are easier to track than others.

If increasing sales or conversions was your goal, you should have data that backs up performance. Likewise, if you set out to improve traffic to your website, you should have the analytics to track that.

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Things like brand visibility can be a bit trickier.

Regardless of what it is you’re using to determine success, you should find the data you need to track performance in Google Analytics.

For a detailed walkthrough of this process, we’ve provided information on exactly how you can measure content marketing success.

A Data-Driven Content Strategy Is A Winning One

Data is a marketer’s best friend. It tells you exactly what works, what doesn’t, and often, why that’s the case.

And a data-driven content strategy is vital for success in today’s hyper-competitive business and SEO environment.

Use the tools available to you to gather data – that’s why they’re there.

Learn to identify what the numbers are telling you and use them to help you craft the kind of content that not only attracts views but gets shares and achieves your goals.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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