SEO Copywriting Demystified: How to Get Started Writing for the Web
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SEO Copywriting Demystified: How to Get Started Writing for the Web

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With so much focus on quality content for SEO, writing for the web can seem like a daunting task. This presentation gives an introduction to SEO copywriting and explains how search engines find and ...

With so much focus on quality content for SEO, writing for the web can seem like a daunting task. This presentation gives an introduction to SEO copywriting and explains how search engines find and rank content, reviews the on-page elements important for copywriting, and provides some strategies for keyword research and discovering what your audience is searching for.

Nick Bernard is an SEO strategist for Portent, Inc. Read what he's written on the Portent blog at http://www.portent.com/author/nbernard/ or find him on Twitter at @niceisnick.

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  • Machines can’t think. We need to structure our content and site in order to help search engines understand them.
  • The search engine results page (SERP) is a hierarchy. For each query, Google finds all of the content in its index that it thinks pertains to that search, and it presents that information in a list ranked from most to least useful.
  • Ranking is based on many, many factors. They can be broken down roughly into three categories:Authority & Trust: Links, for example, are a signal of authority and trust. When a camping blog reviews an MSR tent and links to the product page, it gives a vote of authority and relevance for that topic.Quality: Quality of links, number of pages, amount of content on those pages, reading level of those pages, page speed, UX factors like bounce rate—these all tell the search engine something about the quality of the site.Relevance: Content—the words on the page. First and foremost, search engines are information retrieval systems. In order for them to match a query to a resource, actual words of the query must be found in the content. All things being equal, the better the match for content, the better the result.
  • Content is king, and copywriters have the power. By understanding how and why the search engines evaluate content, you can improve the visibility and quality of the site.
  • The previous SERP ranked these sites in a particular order:Amazon: big, authoritativeREI:quality, UX-focusedCabela’s: trustworthy, relevant
  • The deeper a page is on a site, the less authority it holds. Pages that take fewer clicks from the homepage to reach are considered more important than pages buried in the site architecture.
  • There is also a hierarchy of on-page elements. By leveraging these, we help search engines understand and categorize on-page content.
  • Title tags are the most important on-page element: they hold the most weight for search engines as a ranking signal, and they’re highly visible from the user’s standpoint.They should be less than 70 characters—any longer and they may be cut off in the search result page or thrown out altogether. As you can see, Portent’s homepage title tag is a bit too long. Additionally, the first word or phrase of the title tag is given more significance than the rest.
  • Additionally, the first word or phrase of the title tag is given more significance than the rest. On the page for SEO, we’re targeting that in the first word of the title tag, then following it up with the second most popular related search phrase.
  • While not as important for ranking as title tags, heading tags help give search engines and users context for what the page is about. These don’t necessarily have the same restrictions for length or content as the title tag does.
  • Hierarchies within hierarchies: headings should be organized to highlight the main topic of the page (the ), followed by any important sub-topics (, …).
  • The homepage for Cabela’s is filled with images—it has very little actual text.
  • As a result, this is what the search engine see when it visits the page:http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:91FguDposX0J:www.cabelas.com/&hl=en&gl=us&strip=1On the most important page on the site, at the very top of that page, they tell the search engine that “Skip main navigation” is the most important thing.
  • Here’s the page with JavaScript, CSS and images disabled. This is an authoritative page based on it’s place in the site architecture, but it has no text to tell the search engine what it’s about.
  • Meta descriptions aren’t used as a ranking factor. They’re important because they tell the user what the page is about and, ideally, have a call to action that encourages the user to click through to the site.Meta descriptions should be no more than 150 characters, and they should also include the targeted keyword. As you can see, the search engine bolds the search term if it’s found in the title tag or meta description, which helps it stand out. Dicks’s Sporting Goods has a meta description that makes me want to click through to the page, while oldtowncanoe.com doesn’t even mention “kayak” in the description. If I just read those two sentence fragments on their own and out of context, I wouldn’t know what they were describing.
  • It’s not about keywords—it’s about the language that your customers are using.
  • Content must always be written for the user—not the search engine:Relevant: provide the content that your customers want and show them its value.Descriptive: accurately and completely describe that content in the title tag, headings, and body text itself.Unique: Google doesn’t like duplicate or “thin” content. Every page must serve a unique purpose and offer unique content.
  • Let Google show you what folks are searching for.
  • “Outdoor shelters” might be relevant in the context of your industry, but it mean’s something completely different in the broader context of the web.
  • Use Ubersuggest for more insight into what your customers are looking for on Google: http://ubersuggest.org/
  • Use Quora to find out what your customers are asking about: https://www.quora.com/search?q=lightweight+tents
  • Google Trends shows the relative popularity of search terms over time: https://www.google.com/trends/
  • Google’s keyword tool for AdWords will show you the search volume and competition for specific search queries: https://adwords.google.com/o/Targeting/Explorer?__c=1000000000&__u=1000000000&ideaRequestType=KEYWORD_IDEASIt’s important to note, however, that this should never be used before writing content. Researching specific keywords to force onto the page is guaranteed to result in lousy copy. You should always write for the reader, first and foremost, using the language that he or she would use to find your content.It’s not about which keyword has a higher search volume—it’s about opportunity and the likelihood that you will be able to take advantage of that search volume.
  • General, “head” terms garner more search volume but are hard to rank for. It’s best to target these phrases with the more authoritative, top-level pages on a site.
  • Specific, niche phrases generally have a lower search volume, but these will convert better as they are more tailored to what the user wants.http://www.seomoz.org/blog/how-big-is-your-long-tail-whiteboard-friday
  • This is how customers might find the Portent site, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we need to “optimize” for each and every unique phrase. By writing with the customer in mind, these phrases will naturally occur in the copy.
  • Additional resources:http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seohttp://www.copyblogger.com/blog/http://www.portent.com/blog/seo/keyword-research-doesnt-suck.htmhttp://www.portent.com/blog/seo/advanced-keyword-research.htm

SEO Copywriting Demystified: How to Get Started Writing for the Web SEO Copywriting Demystified: How to Get Started Writing for the Web Presentation Transcript

  • Nick Bernard @niceisnick nick@portent.com SEO COPYWRITING DEMYSTIFIED
  • (OR DON’T THINK) HOW SEARCH ENGINES THINK
  • HIERARCHY
  • AUTHORITY & TRUST QUALITY RELEVANCE
  • AUTHORITY QUALITY RELEVANCE YOU HAVE THE POWER
  • HIERARCHY
  • HIERARCHY T E N T S E S S E N T I A L S E X P E R I E N C E E X P L O R E F A S T S T A S H H U B B A H U B B A S T O R M K I N G
  • HIERARCHY TITLE TAG HEADINGS IMAGE ALT TEXT, FILENAMES… BODY TEXT
  • ON-PAGE ELEMENTS
  • TITLE TAG
  • TITLE TAG SEO & Search Engine Optimization – Portent, Inc.
  • HEADINGS
  • HEADINGS
  • BODY TEXT
  • THEY CAN’T READ IMAGES
  • WEBSITES NEED TEXT
  • META DESCRIPTIONS Nice meta description! Not so good….
  • THE CUSTOMER’S LANGUAGE
  • RELEVANT DESCRIPTIVE UNIQUE
  • GOOGLE SUGGEST
  • GOOGLE SUGGEST
  • UBERSUGGEST
  • QUORA
  • GOOGLE TRENDS
  • GOOGLE ADWORDS KEYWORD TOOL
  • BROAD, “FAT HEAD” TERM T E N T S
  • SPECIFIC, “LONG TAIL” TERM L I G H T W E I G H T T E N T S F O R 2 P E O P L E
  • THE SECRET IT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT SEARCH ENGINES
  • WRITE DESCRIPTIVE CONTENT THAT’S RELEVANT AND USEFUL FOR YOUR CUSTOMER. PERIOD.
  • Thanks! Nick Bernard @niceisnick nick@portent.com