Helping your content rank in the SERPs is one of your primary objectives as a website or business owner. A major piece of this puzzle is making sure you incorporate SEO copywriting into your site, as well as any relevant content and marketing materials.
If you’re new to SEO copywriting, then you’ll need to learn how to incorporate SEO keywords into your overall content strategy. In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics of SEO copywriting, show you what the process looks like, then share some best practices to get you started on the right foot.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the process of writing sales-driven copy that prompts your audience to take an action that results in conversions, revenue, or both. You encounter copywriting every day, whether you’re browsing a website, opening an email, or scrolling past a Facebook Ad. Its primary aim is to drive conversions and sales, which means you’ll see a call-to-action (CTA) with a clear next step, such as clicking a button, signing up for a newsletter, or purchasing a product.
You’ll see copywriting in places such as:
- Sales and product pages
- Ads (both online, in print, audio, and video)
- Social media posts with a CTA
- Email newsletters that drive sales or conversions
- Direct mail materials
Copywriting is commonly confused with content writing, which also factors heavily into the marketing materials we see both online and off. However, the goals of each writing style aren’t the same. Let’s take a look at the differences between copywriting and content writing.
How is Copywriting Different from Content Writing?
While copywriting is more sales-driven, content writing aims to educate the reader with high quality content. Furthermore, content writing is about warming leads rather than asking them to make a purchase immediately. Content writing is more likely to take its time leading you to an eventual sale or conversion of some kind.
An article like this one is a good example of content writing. In this article, the primary goal is to educate you about SEO copywriting. The main call to action at the end of this article is to leave a comment, not make a purchase. There’s not a hard sales pitch at the end of the blog post. Instead, you’ve got a few different options depending on what you want to do next.
If you’re familiar with Elegant Themes and your interest is piqued, you can go ahead and check out Divi when you’re done reading. If not, you can move on to another educational post and learn a bit more. Later, you might choose to make Divi part of your WordPress website because of the expertise you’ve gleaned from our content.
In a nutshell, content writing seeks to add value (first) which can eventually lead to sales (second). Copywriting on the other hand, is sales-driven from the start.
For a more in-depth explanation, read our post on copywriting vs. content writing.
What is SEO Copywriting?
SEO copywriting uses targeted keywords and phrases to help your content rank higher on search engines. Because it’s primarily sales-driven, SEO copywriting uses the power of SEO keyword optimization to create high-converting sales copy that also ranks higher in search results. All in all, it’s a powerful strategy for leveling up your sales copy.
Both SEO copywriting and SEO content writing use the same basic SEO techniques, although the writing style and overall goals differ. While SEO-optimized copywriting drives conversions, such as on a sales page, it makes appearances in pieces of content writing, too.
Blog posts, for instance, contain CTAs that drive readers directly to a product or service offer. Other places where your SEO copywriting and content writing might overlap include your email marketing, long-form sales pages (which often educate the reader before the sales pitch), social media content, and more.
The Process of SEO Copywriting
Wondering what the SEO copywriting process looks like? It can be subjective based on your business, the client, deliverables, and your objectives. Still, there are some basic parts of the process that should be pretty much the same no matter what. Let’s take a look at those.
Ideation: Pitch or Assignment?
When it comes to SEO copywriting, the ideation process may look different from one situation to the next. If you’re writing for yourself, you may come up with your own ideas using keyword research tools. If you’re working for a client, you might pitch your own topics. On the other hand, the client might provide assignments to you. Regardless, for SEO copywriting, you’ll want to make sure those topics topics have the necessary keywords to grow help grow rankings as well as sales.
Pre-writing involves taking your sales content ideas and prepping them for drafting. This process usually involves SEO keyword research (including search intent), topic research, and outlining
Here are some of the different scenarios I’ve experienced over the years as a copywriter:
- Writer pitches the topic, conducts SEO and topic research, and builds an outline.
- Client pitches the topic, then assigns SEO research, topic research, and outlining to the writer.
- Client pitches the topic, conducts SEO and topic research, and provides the writer with a content brief (or outline) including the focus and secondary keywords they want to target.
After you have your topic and keywords in hand, you’ll need to do some additional research on your topic. You can take a look at competitors’ posts to get a feel for what’s already ranking in the SERPs. Additionally, you’ll want to search and compile source materials to help you build your post. Always cite your sources. Make sure to use SEO links including external and internal links. Linking to other websites with domain authority, as well as linking to content within your site, will also help to boost your SEO ranking.
Once you’ve got your topic, SEO keywords, and research, you can build your title and your outline. If possible, make sure you put your main SEO key phrase into your title and the first paragraph of your post. Then, use an SEO plugin such as Yoast as you write to help you distribute the key phrase at the optimal level.
Oftentimes, you’ll have more than one SEO keyword you want to target. You should have one primary key phrase, along with some related secondary phrases. Try to include some of those secondary phrases as long-tail keywords into the text, but only where they naturally flow. Avoid keyword-stuffing and strategically place your selected phrases here and there when appropriate.
Now, it’s time to start drafting your article. If you’re writing for your own website, you likely have a good idea of how long you want your content to be. However, if you’re not sure, we’ve created a guide on the best word count for SEO.
SEO copywriting should tell a story that compels your readers to take action. Storytelling is one of the most important aspects of marketing, particularly if you want your audience to feel a profound connection with your brand. As a general rule, marketing content works well when it’s open, approachable, and conversational.
Your SEO copywriting story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Depending on the kind of content and its purpose, you might want to explore different sales copy frameworks to help you determine structure. Ray Edwards’ P.A.S.T.O.R. formula is one of my favorites for sales pages and email sequences. There are many examples out there, so test a few to find out what works best for you.
Use Plugins and Apps to Aid in Clearer Writing
One way to make sure your content is easy to read is by paying attention to the readability score in your Yoast SEO plugin. This tool will help you keep your writing clear and understandable. Additionally, you’ll get tips on how to improve it further. Sometimes, I’ll run my articles through Hemingway if I’m struggling to simplify complex sentences.
As you write, you’ll want to make sure you break your content down into sections with H2 and H3 subheads. Breaking content down into bullet lists can also improve readability. Making your SEO copywriting as accessible and easily digestible as possible can help your overall SEO ranking. If you’d like, we have a more in-depth guide to using heading tags for SEO.
While we’re talking about plugins, it’s important to note that you’ll need a strong meta description for each piece of content. If you’re using Yoast, there’s a plugin right inside your WordPress interface. We’ve written a more in-depth guide on how to write the perfect meta description.
Don’t Forget the CTA
Once you’ve drafted your content, broken it up into sections that flow well and make sense, and incorporated your internal and external links, it’s time to add a CTA. Where does your reader need to go next? What do you want them to do? Here are some possibilities:
- Sign up for your newsletter
- Sign up for a free download (lead magnet)
- Enroll in a course
- Purchase a product
- Hire you for a service
- Click through to a related post
- Schedule a consultation
- Buy tickets to an event (online or in-person)
Revision and Publication
Once you’ve drafted your content, make another pass to clean up any straggling issues (such as grammar or rambling sentences). You’ll also want to make sure to compress image sizes (Page speed does affect SEO). Then, submit it to your client, if applicable. They might come back to you with editorial requests, at which point you’ll need to make final edits and re-submit.
Finally, it’s time to publish. That might mean publishing via a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or taking a sales page live on your website. Don’t forget to upload a featured image and include any other relevant images in your content. Then, schedule or publish your post.
4 SEO Copywriting Approaches, Techniques, and Best Practices
Now that you understand the basics of SEO copywriting, let’s jump into a few best practices.
- Consider search intent. Why are your readers searching for the specific topics you’re planning to write about? Tools such as SEMRush can help you analyze search intent, which ultimately helps you to conduct better keyword research–which ultimately leads to better SEO copywriting.
- Use the Inverted Pyramid to structure your writing. The Inverted Pyramid is a writing style that journalists use to structure breaking news stories. It places the main idea of a story in the first paragraph (sometimes the first sentence), ensuring that readers get a quick-hit overview of the topic ahead. This writing style translates very well into some forms of copywriting for marketing, such as blogging and social media copy. As a writer with journalism training and experience, I’ve found myself using the Inverted Pyramid often throughout my marketing career.
- Stay on-brand. Your SEO copywriting should be consistent with your brand voice. If the tone of your sales writing veers too far from your copy everywhere else, it’ll feel disjointed to your readers and will affect both SEO and conversions.
- Adapt style and tone for specific audiences. If you’re writing for multiple brands and audiences, keep your finger on the pulse of who you’re writing for at all times. You’ll need to be able to shift from one client to the next to maintain consistency for them.
If you want your content to rank well in the SERPs, then learning the basics of SEO copywriting is an absolute must. Your copy comes into play in a big way when people use search engines to look for the topics you write about. As a result, you want your content to be easy to find.
Do you leverage SEO copywriting for your website or business? Thinking about getting started? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Featured image via Julia Lazebnaya / shutterstock.com