“Marketing and innovation make you money,” said management guru Peter Drucker. “Everything else is an expense.”
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a key part of any marketing strategy and it might as well be renamed “Google Listing Optimization”. The tech giant gets 3.5 billion queries daily which represent 90% of global search.
Arsen Rabinovich, founder of marketing firm TopHatRank, tells Hacker Noon:
Big G [Google] is the world’s biggest directory listing, and writers should make content appear as high as possible on those search results. Good content that’s invisible is useless. Like brick-and-mortar establishments, online businesses make money from traffic.
Traffic really is everything for content and if your content isn’t generating traffic, it’s just sitting idly in cyberspace. Here are four SEO best practices for copywriters to create content that generates traffic.
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1. Create a Compelling Headline and Intro
The first thing you need to do is write the headlines and subheadings before creating any other text. These provide structure and direction for the rest of the article. Next, create a magical headline, one designed to make users want to click.
However, this is easier said than done. Tools like BuzzSumo can help provide you with examples of headlines that go viral. You can also check major news outlets and social media posts to see the most popular headlines being used.
A great headline is truly just a great sales pitch, though. It conveys what you have to offer and a call to action or cliff hanger.
Google rewards high clickthrough rates and social shares. But make sure your headline matches the article’s message. Everyone hates misleading, clickbait titles.
Los Angeles, Calif.-based TopHatRank is winner of “Best SEO Campaign” at 2019 Interactive Marketing Awards.
2. Build an Inverted Pyramid With Your Content
Jump right in.
People get nervous or angry or bored when they read an author who sheepishly slithers to the main message. Eyeballs engage with bold content even if the brains powering them don’t agree with the article.
That’s why it’s vital to put the most important details at the top — hence, the inverted pyramid style. The old rule for journalists and writers is “Don’t bury the lede.”
This means that in the beginning of most articles, you should write the who, what, when, where, and how. Because today’s crowd has shortening attention spans and needs the most important details up front.
By putting the most important information at the top, you create an inverted pyramid structure with your content to keep readers engaged and sending traffic.
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3. Know Your Keywords, and Use Them
What are people typing into Google? And how much competition do you have for those keywords?
If you don’t really know where to start when it comes to keywords, you can use free keyword search tools such as Google Keyword Planner, KeywordTool.io and WordStream, to name a few.
It’s also a good idea to use secondary keywords to improve SEO copywriting results. Secondary keywords solidify your topic and help get the point across to search engines what it is you wrote about.
These keywords can be placed in your headline, subheadings, url, opening paragraph, body of text, and closing paragraph. It’s best practice to use free keyword density tools to find an appropriate amount of keyword usage and avoid overstuffing keywords throughout the content.
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4. Rewrite, Rewrite, and Rewrite Again
There are no shortcuts to great copy. Top articles are polished nearly a dozen times before they shine. You should expect to do the same with your articles, editing again and again.
SEO expert Arsen Rabinovich says:
Great SEO requires endless tweaks but its rewards approach nearer each day.
Rewriting forces you to find that magical, but elusive, headline. It helps to remove clutter and truly optimize your content for both users and search engines. Rewriting also leads to clear and straightforward communication that better informs your target audience.
When it comes to rewriting content, it’s best to take a break in between edits so that you’re not staring at the same piece of content back-to-back and get a fresh pair of eyes on your edits. When you return to the content piece, you’ll find new opportunities to delete unnecessary words, to include a side-story, and/or to add statistics.
The first few drafts tend to produce drowsy, yawn-worthy text. Standout material gradually emerges the more you rewrite.
One rewriting tactic top journalists use is to verbally speak the material to ensure it’s conversational. Doing so lets you find awkward-sounding phrases or find too many filler words (like “the”) that should be removed. Long-time journalist William Zinsser advised, “Write tight and bright.”
Michelangelo, one of greatest sculptors in history, said that the statue of David was already in the marble — he merely had to chip away the excess and free him. “Every block of stone has a statue inside … and the sculptor’s [task is] to discover it.”
The best SEO copywriters are rewriters. Chart-topping singers, journalists, producers, and other creative talent re-edit more than anyone else.
SEO copywriting excellence is found in its pursuit. Create a compelling headline as your sales pitch. Put the most important messages up top (inverted-pyramid structure) that answer who, what, when, where, and how. Know your keywords. And keep rewriting to improve the material.
You’re going to write the article anyway. If it’s mediocre, you will have wasted precious time and effort on something that wastes other people’s time. Thus, the only option is to create standout material that is optimized and impressive, or to not write at all.