SEO Copywriting for Beginners: Write for People, Not Search Engines

SEO copywriting is about writing for people who use search engines, not writing for search engines. Why? Because search engines serve people. Their priority is to deliver relevant, high-quality results to people.

For example, if you use Google to search for “blueberry pancake recipe”, you don’t want to see results for taco salad recipes. Search engines frequently tweak their algorithms to keep pace with what we expect to see when we search for something like “blueberry pancake recipe”.

SEO Copywriting “Philosophy”

When you write for your audience—when you create valuable and unique content for your audience—you improve your chances of ranking higher on a search engine results page (SERP). One way this can happen is when your audience shares your article on Facebook and Twitter; then, their followers share it, too; and then, their followers share it, too. More and more people learn about your article. They might even link to your article on their own website, which builds your external link network (think of external links like references on a résumé). That external link from a quality website is a vote of confidence for your website in the eyes of Google, and so, your article moves up in the SERPs.

It’s the “you reap what you sow” lesson.

If you sow excellent content, you reap excellent engagement. If you sow excellent engagement, you reap excellent rankings.

Now that we have the “philosophy” of SEO copywriting down, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Goals, Voids & Topics

What’s your goal? One goal can be to fill an internet void. For example, is the internet missing an article on “the best places to enjoy a slice of pie in Iowa”? (By the way, it’s not.) Or, were you unable to find any info on how to make “XYZ”? If so, then you found your internet void and a great topic.

Alternatively, your goal could be to teach people something new; to drive more foot traffic to your brick and mortar store; or to promote an upcoming special on your e-commerce shop.

Keyword Research

Now you have your topic, your next step in SEO copywriting is keyword research. The goal is to find relevant keywords with search volume in your target location.

To illustrate, let’s say you own a bike shop in Denver, and you want to write an article about how to fix a flat bike tire using products you sell in your shop. When doing keyword research, you evaluate keywords and phrases people use in Denver on fixing flat bike tires. You decide to focus on the phrase “how to fix a flat bike tire”, which has an average of 10 monthly searches each month (at the time of writing). Not many people in Denver are searching for “how to fix a flat bike tire”. Still, you see this as an opportunity to highlight your small neighborhood bike shop and your repair kits.

During keyword research, you’ll sometimes find lots of keywords you’d like to use, but narrow things down to 1-3 relevant keywords.

Overwhelmed by SEO? Try a
guided approach.

Who’s Your Audience? Write for Them.

Use words your audience wants to hear. It’s easy to describe a product using your own words. However, often our own words are laden with jargon; they don’t get to the point; and they’re harder to understand. Forget your words. Instead, use the words that will make your customers think, “I had that exact idea! I like the way this business thinks!”

Also, what does your target audience expect from an article like the one you’re writing? In our Denver bike shop example, your audience might expect a video or images that show how to fix a flat. In this case, it’s much easier to watch how to fix a flat than to read about it. But if you’re writing about eating slice after slice of pie in Iowa, text and images make a great combination, since readers may want to linger on the pie photos. I would.

Write

Write. Then, write, and write some more until you have your piece of content! It’s that easy, right?

Not always.

Create a Flow

At times, getting the ball rolling is difficult. So, start small and write in a conversational style. You can think of this writing style as a stream of consciousness, just write down whatever comes to mind.

For example, “This blog post is about how to fix a flat bike tire. The first time I had a flat bike tire was when I was 12, and I was overwhelmed because I was 8 miles from home without a repair kit!”

That’s a start.

Plus, people love stories, so you might even want to keep in that bit about being 12! Whatever you come up with, you’ve created a flow of words. Now, just go! And keep going.

Write in Bursts

Another helpful writing strategy is to write in short blocks of time of 15-20 minutes. Writing is taxing, so stay creative by writing in short bursts. Take a short break, and then return. Before you know it, you’ll have a whole page of words!

Sprinkles

Sprinkle your keywords throughout your writing, in the blog title, subtitle, headings, paragraphs, page title, meta description, and image alt tags. But don’t go crazy. Use your focus keyword―the keyword you really want to rank for―once in the blog title, in 1-2 headings, 1-3 paragraphs, once in the page title, once in the meta description, and in 1-2 image alt tags, depending on the length of your article.

Edit

Editing is more than checking for spelling errors. When you edit your copy, check that your article structure makes sense. Should this entire section be moved? Can you delete that paragraph entirely? Do it. Does that paragraph really belong in another section? Then, move it. Can you concentrate your sentences so they express their purpose in as few words as possible? If yes, then concentrate!

Now you’re ready to write your article with these SEO copywriting tips in your toolbox. Have fun and good luck!

Bonus Tip!

Ever wonder if you’re correctly capitalizing titles? If so, check out this nifty tool called Capitalize My Title.

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Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay started in SEO in 2008 and over the years she's worked with thousands of businesses to help them get found in Google. She enjoys teaching holistic SEO practices with a focus on actionable tactics that create results. Outside of the office, Lindsay spends time with her family and explores the mountains around Basalt, Colorado.