SEO Copywriting Rules Essential to Know in 2019

A few years ago, you could spam your article with a bunch of keywords and rank well.

In the meantime, Google introduced numerous algorithm updates, changing SEO copywriting for good. Today, the search engine focuses more on the overall user experience and the relevance of your content than on your keyword frequency.

In other words, SEO copywriting has become more user-centric. Before even writing a piece of content, you need to understand your audiences, now what they like, and tailor your writing to appeal to them.

Your goal is to engage a user, evoke emotions in them, and inspire them to take a specific action. On the other hand, as a copywriter, you should also understand the fundamentals of optimizing for search engines. Most importantly, you need to know how to balance UX and SEO.

Key Elements of SEO Copywriting

To understand how SEO copywriting works, you first need to understand the fundamental elements of each strong content piece. These elements will not only push your blog post to the Google top 10, but will also make it more readable and user-friendly.

  • Headlines

Your content may be super-relevant and valuable, but if your headline doesn’t intrigue a reader, your CTR will suffer. Copyblogger says that 8 in 10 people read headlines, while only 2 of them click on your link.

The headline is the first thing people see when they come across your article. It needs to be catchy, grabbing a user’s attention and prompting them to click and read the rest of your article.

First, you want your entire title to be visible in the SERPs. That’s why you should keep it short – somewhere between 50 and 60 characters.

As for crafting catchy titles, stats say that numbers (especially odd ones) work exceptionally well on Google. You should also use brackets, hyphens, and questions can also increase your CTR.

Finally, there are numerous attention-grabbing phrases you could use in headlines to intrigue a reader and evoke emotions in them, such as  “X Things You Didn’t Know about…” or “X Ways To…”

  • Meta descriptions

Google uses your meta description as a snippet, meaning that it appears right after your title tag in the SERPs. As such, it’s one of the first things users see and it directly impacts your click-through rate.

This is one of the key elements to optimize for search engines. For example, a few years ago, the optimal length for your meta description was under 150 characters. However, Google increased this limit and now your meta descriptions can go up to 300 characters. Also, keep your meta descriptions optimized for your major keywords. Still, don’t over-optimize them. Spamming these elements will only decrease UX and clicks and, consequently, harm your rankings.

  • A compelling introduction

Most of your users, especially mobile searchers, don’t have time to read the entire article. They will probably read the introduction and read the rest of the content only if it keeps them interested. According to Sumo’s content marketing research study, 32% of visitors ditch article after only 140 words.

So, logically, to increase users’ time on page, you need to write a highly compelling opening that keeps users engaged. For example, keep it interactive by asking questions. Write short and straightforward sentences. Include thought-provoking stats and data.

  • Keyword frequency

How many times do your target keywords appear on a single website page?

There is no need to spam your content with your keywords, given that keyword density and frequency are not as important as they used to be. By inserting keywords excessively and stuffing your page with the same keyword, you will hurt user experiences, increase bounce rates, and decrease your rankings.

  • Links on your page

You probably know that links are the key element of your website pages. Now, there are two types of links to include – internal and external ones.

External links are ones leading to the resource outside of your website. For example, if you’ve cited a research study or used someone else’s image on your blog, you should give them credentials. External links should guide your readers to additional relevant and valuable resources they could use to learn more about a certain topic.

Internal links are ones guiding users to other pages on your site. These could be links to your blog post, specific landing pages, product pages, or homepage. They help you increase your website architecture, increase the crawlability of your pages, and make them more findable by users.

When creating backlinks, always make sure you pay attention to their relevance to your audience, your anchor text and, above all, the quality of the resource you’re linking to.

The Quality of Content should Be your Priority

Content is the essence of your blog and, as such, it deserves a separate section in this article.

Namely, over 4 million blog posts are published each day on the internet. That’s lots of competition out there.

The only way to stand out is to build your content development plan strategically. Instead of publishing a bunch of content weekly, focus on creating high-quality content that addresses your readers’ specific problems, educate them, and provide fresh and innovative insights into the trends you’re familiar with.

Here are a few rules to keep in mind:

Align keywords with searchers’ intent.

This is especially important now that users are using voice search to find precise answers to their questions.

First, instead of relying on exact-match keywords, focus on more conversational phrases your audience really uses. Voice searchers use long-tail phrases, location-specific keywords, and entire questions when conducting searches. So, you should shift to more natural search phrases, as well.

Your goal is to tie your keywords to specific search intent. In other words, your keywords need to be classified and implemented according to the customer intent:

  • Informational keywords – people use them to learn more about a certain topic. This is an amazing opportunity to build a relationship with your target audience, but don’t expect them to convert yet.
  • Commercial keywords – searchers using them have an intent to make a purchase. They want to get solutions to their problems quickly. These are keywords like “outdoor furniture sale” or “buy outdoor furniture.”

Support your articles with valuable data.

Copywriting is all about combining creativity and accuracy. If the purpose of your article is to provide users with actionable tips or provide industry insights, then there is no place for improvisation. Each statement you make needs to be supported either by your in-house research or studies conducted by authoritative resources. Sure, just like I’ve already mentioned, when using someone else’s information or images, don’t forget to link back to their original resource.

Leverage storytelling.

Storytelling is what separates a top copywriter from a mediocre one. Always remember that your customers expect you to weave your brand story into an engaging piece of content that is easy to follow and relate to. Most importantly, such content is more likely to evoke users’ emotions, build trust, and guide them towards converting.

Make your content easy to follow.

Invest in the UX of your content, be it a 500-word article or a 5000-word guide. Make sure you leave lots of white space to help users navigate your page easily and focus on the text they’re reading. Choose a legible font. Break text up with headings and write smaller paragraphs to make your content easier to digest. Choose complementary and visually appealing colors and add visuals where it makes sense. Use bulleted lists and numbers to emphasize the article’s strongest points and increase the overall readability of your content. Most importantly, remove distractions, such as annoying popups or auto-play videos.

Always spell-check your copy.

If you believe that no one cares about a few typos you make while writing, you’re wrong. Your grammar, spelling, and word choices indicate your authority and professionalism.

Now, there are many tools that can automate the proofreading process to a certain extent. For example, Grammarly has both free and paid plans. Apart from grammar and spelling suggestions, it also teaches you about the nuances in word meanings and informs about any misplaced words.

Convince a Reader to Act

The role of your copy is to sell an idea, generate leads, or inspire a customer to make a purchase. And, you need to determine the purpose of your article before you even start writing it. By having clarity of purpose, you will be able to do your research more efficiently, focus on those points that align with the purpose of your article, and ensure that the entire copy is oriented towards achieving a certain goal. This will help you create a more relevant piece of content, write clearer CTAs, think of better titles, and address users’ problems and expectations more effectively.

Over to You

SEO and copywriting are a match made in heaven. SEO gives your high-quality content the exposure in search results it needs. On the other hand, copywriting is an opportunity for you to use your keywords more organically and put them in a highly engaging context.

To get the most of both worlds, you should focus on building a user-centric SEO copywriting. High rankings and better traffic will come as a reward.

Hope this helps! If you still want more SEO tips, check out one of these articles:

Understanding How Web Design Impacts Your SEO

What You Don’t Know About SEO is Killing Your Business

Why Is Maximizing Your Local SEO Important?

How Do Citations Help With Local SEO?