SEO Copywriting in modern times is all about producing compelling content — so good that it can promote itself. As search engines evolve, it pays to stay on top of things when it comes to writing SEO-friendly copy.
The art of writing for search engines is always in a state of flux. One day, something that worked for many years suddenly does no more.
This is a reference to a time when Google moved their search operations to SSL, which meant that Google Analytics could no longer track incoming keywords.
Without keywords, you can no longer understand which phrases are sending visitors to your posts. As a result, it becomes much harder to write copy that includes specific keyword phrases. Thankfully, many brands have taken it upon themselves to provide keyword research and suggestion tools.
But, SEO Copywriting isn’t just about keywords. It’s what’s inside the posts and articles that makes all the difference. With the introduction of RankBrain and steady growth for Voice Search — we see a slow but unwavering change in the way that search engines interpret written content.
And the only way to keep up is to adapt.
The user is now the algorithm
Google has always tried to ensure that listed content is user-specific. In the earlier days of SEO, and even as recently as 3-4 years ago, one could make strides by gaming many of the search engine algorithms.
Now, Google’s tech for understanding user behavior has improved significantly. And there is a major shift happening — one that is considering user behavior — on your pages — as a major ranking signal.
The RankBrain algorithm wants to know if users are landing on pages that provide necessary answers:
- Is the content of this site written in formal or laid-back tone?
- Does this page answer a specific question in a concise format?
- How long is a user spending on a page before leaving?
- Are visitors interacting with elements outside of the content area?
Overall, Google’s RankBrain will continue to scout for a reason to rank your pages higher.
Returning visitors, consistent engagement, social signals, long-tail answers, and site performance — all contribute to improved rankings.
The question is, how does all this affect you as a copywriter? Is there anything in particular that you need to be doing differently to achieve better SEO results?
And the answer is, yes. You can optimize your copy to meet the standards of RankBrain and other search engine algorithms.
#1: How-to: Featured Snippets & Answers
Featured Snippets and Answers have been around for quite some time now. The idea is simple. Google scans your content for its structure, and automatically creates a featured snippet that can outline all headlines and sub-headlines. The image above is an example of Featured Snippets at work.
And instead of thinking that you have to get lucky to get featured, you are going to be much better off by putting in the required effort in making your posts friendly to snippets and answers.
What are Featured Answers?
Google’s Featured Answers are becoming increasingly present amongst search engine result pages. So much so that when searching using a mobile device, you quickly forget that you have a Google experience. The way it works right now is that once you view one answer, another couple of answers are added. And the list just keeps growing.
But, the question is, how do you get featured in Google Answer snippets?
And the solution is rather easy; you have to write in a way that sounds like an answer opposed to using sales jargon.
Also, one of Google’s methods for checking structure is to analyze pages for Headings, Sub-Headings, and any highlighted snippets and paragraphs. This indicates, to search engines, that the content is of vital importance within a given context.
You may use a tool such as SEMrush to monitor if your content is featured in answer snippets.
#2: Elaborate with long-tail keywords
Ideally, every single page on your website is built around the idea of a specific keyword. That being said, most businesses target dry head keywords, a bunch of popular phrases that have high search volume, but little clickthrough-rate in real-world examples.
Besides, ranking for high-volume keywords is hard, and more often than not, the traffic you get in return is thin without much sales potential.
So, enter the world of long-tail SEO.
The goal of long-tail SEO is to provide answers to questions that go beyond your basic keyword selection.
As an example, if your business is about “yoga props,” then how can you expand upon this key phrase to include more details and information?
Can the “props” help with something else other than improving posture flexibility? Have you had people report a specific use-case where a prop helped to improve their well-being?
These are all real examples of how to improve your copy with concise long-tail keywords. And if you struggle to come up with additional long-tail keywords, then Google autocomplete is always an excellent place to start.
Once you start seeing potential opportunities for long-tail keywords, start adding them to your posts. Weave in additional content — or create an entirely new post — based on your findings. Structure additional content parts in a way that provides in-depth answers and clarity.
And speaking of in-depth, this brings us to our next chapter on how to become a better SEO copywriter. Or, at least, someone who doesn’t just write for the sake of pleasing an algorithm.
#3: Being informative is not enough
You have seen it. It’s all over the place. Basic copy & paste lists that feel forceful are an absolute eyesore to look at, and hardly ever deliver on the promise of value.
In most cases, there’s nothing wrong with being informative. At least you are keeping your content efforts alive. And as long as you write it yourself, then there shouldn’t be any issues whatsoever.
But, copywriting for SEO purposes is hardly about being informative.
In a sense, good copywriters are true warriors of the SEO world. Writing extended posts and articles, always trying to include the latest and best research available. Always trying to provide just enough content so that readers don’t have to click away for another site.
Over the last four years, the average length of a blog post has gone from 800, 1,000, to 1,200+ words.
It is clear that long-form content drives traffic and generates more leads. However, 10x content is not exclusively about creating long articles. Don’t go gung-ho on publishing LONG articles on every subject you write. Your goal is providing an incredible experience to your audience and serving your audience’s intent. — Chintan Zalani
And this is mostly to do with the fact that readers want to find all their answers in a single post. As the graph above shows, longer posts get far more organic sessions than posts with <600 words.
#4: Keep readers engaged for longer
Google insists on using time-spent on a page as a ranking factor. And honestly, it makes sense.
Wouldn’t you prefer to have your content ranked highly because it’s structured so well on top of providing great value?
Even though SEO as a practice will continue to exist for decades to come, SEO alone can’t make users stay on your pages.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can ensure users stick around for longer periods.
- Infographics. An infographic is a conjunction of visual research, blended in an eye-pleasing presentation. Looking at an infographic can easily add 10-30 seconds of total time spent on a page per user.
- Quotes. Don’t be afraid to quote someone else’s work. Combine personal experience with that of others who work in the same field.
- Lists. Adding a list to your content makes it scannable. Also, a list does a much better job at visual presentation than if you were to write individual sentences.
- Callouts. A callout is generally added when you wish to highlight an important piece of information. These days, most modern content publishing platforms provide the means to create responsive callout boxes.
If you are using WordPress then check out Thrive Leads to create a high-conversion and impressive content boxes.
- Audio. There are many services available that can convert an article into audio format. If your average post length is 5 minutes, then imagine what it can do for your user engagement rates if your readers start to listen to your posts more frequently.
Above all, sincere and high-quality content promotes longer engagement by itself.
Conclusion: do your part
Copywriting is heading in a good direction for the year 2019. Google is getting smarter about rewarding great content, and readers are getting more generous in sharing content that helps with their problems.
As a copywriter, your goal is to maintain consistency and continue analyzing results from any posts you write. That being said, let us know your thoughts on SEO copywriting. Would love to hear what methods you are using in the current year to maximize both exposure and engagement of your content.