What is SEO copy?
SEO copy tells the search engines what you do. What search results your website will appear in.
Done well, it’s just your sales message with a smattering of carefully positioned phrases – the phrases your customers are Googling – throughout. Done poorly, it’s unreadable.
For the record, I do it well. (I even wrote a book on it: Practical SEO Copywriting)
What ISN’T it?
The term “SEO copy” is thrown around a lot these days. Usually inappropriately. And quite often in combination with that dreaded concept, ‘keyword density’.
Keyword density is an overly-simplistic measure of the number of times you’ve used your target keywords. If you’re trying to rank in searches for “car hire Sydney” and you use the phrase “car hire Sydney” 10 times on a 100-word page, then your keyword density is said to be 10% (i.e. 10/100).
Unfortunately, a lot of so-called SEO copywriters think all they have to do is get a high keyword density, and they’re done. Complete rubbish! And here’s why…
Search engines don’t think that way at all. They use way more complicated mathematical algorithms to identify what your site’s about.
And even if they DID use keyword density, can you imagine a 100-word page with 10 instances of “car hire Sydney”?! That’s a 3-word phrase. Use it 10 times, and you’ve used up 30 of your 100 words. Imagine how repetitive that would be. And how nonsensical… those 3 words don’t actually go comfortably in spoken or written English. Your page would be a complete shambles!
To make matters worse, a lot of SEO copywriters try to bamboozle clients with talk of things like “latent semantic indexing”, “probabilistic latent semantic indexing”, “the Semantic Web” and “Web 3.0”.
They probably don’t understand these terms any more than you do! And the truth is, these complex concepts simply aren’t relevant to most SEO copywriting jobs.
Don’t get me wrong; they’re valid concepts, and they ARE relevant if you’re writing SEO copy for a really big corporate site that needs to rank in an ultra-competitive search, like “computer”, “car” or “hotel”. For everyone else, however, SEO copywriting is a lot simpler to grasp.
SEO copywriting is very hard to do well
A good SEO copywriter respects a lot of best practices. You have to:
- Measure keyword frequency (not density)
- Use a phrase counter if you’re targeting an EXACT phrase
- Use a word cloud if you’re NOT targeting an EXACT phrase
- Target one keyword per page
- Dedicate a cluster of pages to each keyword
- Be specific, and invent headings, captions and lists
- Use grammar & punctuation ‘creatively’
- Link out strategically for SEO and credibility
Google doesn’t buy. Visitors do!
In addition to these sorts of best practices, you have to always remember that Google doesn’t buy anything. Visitors do.
A high ranking is just a means to an end. It’s not enough just to get visitors to your site. You want to make them buy! So you need to be very careful not to sacrifice readability for SEO.
It’s a delicate balance. I achieve this balance by writing the copy for your visitors first. I actually completely ignore the search engines when I write your first draft. I just make sure your copy appeals to readers. Only then do I start to optimise for search engines.
Nonetheless, there are often conflicts between what Google wants, and what your visitors want. And those conflicts have to be addressed. Things like:
- Keyword frequency VS readability
- Keyword-rich VS persuasive headings
- Headings that start with keywords VS headings that start with persuasion
- Keyword-rich VS feature/benefit-rich lists
- Bolded keywords VS bolded meaning words
- Keyword-rich VS scannable VS engaging links
- Summaries that start with keywords VS summaries that start with meaning or persuasion
- Captions that start with keywords VS captions that start with meaningful description
- Target keyword VS grammatical variants
- Exact phrase VS individual words scattered across the page
- Long VS short copy
- Keyword prominence VS succinctness
- Title tags that start with keywords VS Title tags that start with brand
- Keyword-rich VS persuasive, meaningful Description tags
- Keyword-rich VS helpful, descriptive image Alt attributes
Only by addressing these conflicts can your SEO copywriting appeal to both visitors and search engines.
See some samples of my copywriting
Take a look at my copywriting portfolio to see if I’m the SEO copywriter you’re after.
Contact me for an SEO copywriting quote
If you’re after an SEO copywriter who doesn’t just think about keyword density, and won’t try and bamboozle you, call Glenn in Sydney Australia on (02) 9121 6211 or email me for a quote.