If there’s one thing you soon learn as a writer, it that people cannot be forced at gunpoint to read advertising copy. If it’s not interesting, people simply will not read it. If it doesn’t deliver useful value, they’ll ignore it. If it’s neither useful nor interesting, forget it.
In the case of SEO copywriting, which naturally tends to cycle around keywords and phrases, the situation is even more uncompromising- Write good copy or it will do nothing.
This is almost a marketing exercise – Good copy, by definition, stands out from other copy. Good copy is well presented, contains useful information of value to the reader, and doesn’t merely rehash existing copy. Good SEO copy, by definition, provides values based on a good mix of SEO and content.
The unknown factor in good advertising copy is that good copy is actually interesting, not simply pretending to be interesting. The fact is that many consumers, particularly technical and professional people, are experts in the products that they buy. You simply cannot sell lousy products to these people, however hard you try. Nor do they like being bored to death by mindless recital of specifications, prices, keywords, etc.
The interest level, in fact, is going to be generated by the copy content. Experienced copywriters know that understanding products and the values of products to the consumers is the key to producing good copy.
- Good SEO writing is all about what your audience are actually looking for. That’s what they want to read about.
- The focus of the article needs to be based on their needs.
If the subject/keyword is Apartments Greenwich Village, your client is a real estate agent, and the focus is both rentals and sales, you have a lot of good writing opportunities.
The big “Don’ts” in SEO writing
These things are absolutely fundamental to SEO writing:
- Do not spam your keywords- 1% keyword density is quite enough. 2% is probably borderline overdoing it, and 3% is just gaga. Imagine using the expression Apartments Greenwich Village in a normal conversation 24 times in approximately 5 minutes, and you can see how ridiculous 3% really is.
- Do not duplicate content: If you’re writing multiple pages on the same topic, you must rewrite the copy to meet search engine rules. The most basic SEO rule is no duplicates. Google doesn’t like, and will penalize, duplicated content, because it’s basically a form of spam. It also screws up search results. Rewrite as required, but do not allow any duplicated SEO copy to get online.
- Do not put your keywords or key phrases in unnatural, grammatically awkward, or out of context positions: The key phrase should be used only when required and in a natural form. If you say “Apartments in East Greenwich Village”, the search engine will still get Apartments Greenwich Village. Search engines simply search what they’re told to search. You do not write “Apartments Greenwich Village” and expect readers to try to figure out whether you mean the East or West Village.
Basic SEO format
SEO formatting can vary quite a lot. Some people want keywords in the meta description, the first and last paragraphs, and/or some percentage of keyword density. Some SEO includes secondary key phrases, which are also included according to your SEO brief.
Plan your text according to the brief. This can be annoying in a creative sense, but it does make sure that you’ve got everything you’re supposed to have in your text.
Drafting SEO copy
You write SEO copy in stages:
- Check your brief, copy instructions, keyword specifications, and above all check any special requirements for keyword usage, like positioning in text, description, tags, etc.
- Draft your copy, and cross-check against your brief. The tendency is to leave out something, rather than to include it, so be patient and make sure you’ve written all you’re supposed to write.
- Do a quality control check, particularly if you’re writing multiple landing pages on the same subject for the same client. Are there any duplications? Any “recycled” materials or accidentally pasted text from another page?
- When writing multiple SEO pages, also check- Any errors from previous text which you’re rewriting? There are usually several, on every page.
Now, you can deal with the heart and soul of SEO writing- Functional values. You’ve written your article on “Apartments in Greenwich Village”.
- Is your article functionally useful for readers?
- Does it serve the client’s purpose of attracting interest in Greenwich Village apartments?
- Does it include unique information, read well, and act as an incentive for people to find out more?
- Do the keywords fit well with the information content?
If so, you’ve written good, useful SEO content. If not, go back and edit until it meets all the criteria. You’ll find you can self-edit very naturally, after a while.