A business’s website needs two primary marketing elements to function: content (copywriting and content development) and search engine optimisation (SEO). This isn’t new information, but what tends to get overlooked is the ‘behind-the-search-engine’ challenges that are faced.
It’s important to know that there is a difference between copywriters and content developers. Please read our article Do I Need a Copywriter or Content Developer? to gain an in-depth understanding.
What is SEO copywriting?
SEO copywriting and content development is a discipline that incorporates technical search engine optimisation with relevant, valuable content. Together, they work in synergy to provide copy that ranks in Google’s search engine result pages (SERP). The overarching aim is to ensure that the content appeals to your audience (they enjoy reading it) and they perform actions leading to an ideal result, e.g. purchasing a product and/or service. In marketing lingo, this is known as a conversion.
The hidden challenges
People who are not familiar with the intricacies of content marketing tend to oversimplify the process and say ‘write something’. Well, that something, if not developed properly, can be the difference between a thriving or failing business.
Think of a new piece of SEO copywriting as a new car. The body is perfect; it’s shiny, has a unique shape and emanates a specific tone, look and feel. The dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree, and the entertainment screen displays your iTunes playlists. Awesome! This is the article as it exists on the front-end of your website.
Now, hit the switch on the engine and push down on the accelerator; do you hear the sound of the internal combustion engine? All the mechanical parts have to work together to drive, that’s SEO copywriting, constantly fuelling the page’s performance in the background. If the engine stops, so does the ‘perfect’ driving experience.
That’s the simple explanation. Let’s take a deeper dive.
The obstacles that need to be overcome
SEO copywriting and content development need to conform to Google’s ever-changing algorithm – a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations. In this case, Google’s algorithm changes, increases or decreases the importance of specific ranking signals. This can affect the performance of content written before the algorithm changes.
Google algorithm ranking signals include but are not limited to:
- Page speed
- Domain authority
- URL authority
- Optimised content
- Technical SEO
- User experience
- Inbound links
As mentioned above, the signals’ significance can change depending on Google’s latest algorithm update. A thorough analysis of these signals needs to be conducted, and any copy that is written must follow them accordingly. So, there’s a plethora of technical content research that is required before a single word can be written.
Once the content parameters have been identified, another obstacle presents itself: what, how and why is this specific content written?
Marketing expert Neil Patel comments, “To thrive, your online business must go beyond simply “writing content.” Your content needs to accomplish two goals:
- Solve a particular problem
- Appeal to the end-user (customers, clients, prospects, readers, etc.)
We need to establish the problem and solve it to appeal to the target audience while conforming to Google’s algorithm parameters. What separates good copywriters and content developers from great ones is their ability to write content that is innovative, entertaining and valuable enough to entice the end-user to complete the necessary actions to convert while abiding by the dynamic ‘rules’.
Every business wants to rank for keywords that are pertinent to their industry. For example, an asset management company would ideally like Google to recognise it when users type in search terms such as best unit trusts, affordable unit trusts, asset management, independent financial advisers.
It may sound straightforward, but keyword competitiveness is a reality, and as you can imagine, all asset management companies want to rank for the keywords mentioned earlier.
Meticulous keyword research and examination need to take place by SEO experts who then submit the results to the content writers. They need to select the keywords that have the best potential to rank on Google and include them in the content organically.
When searching for the ideal keywords, the generally accepted target is 80% evergreen keywords; 20% trending keywords.
- Evergreen keywords: Keywords that continually stay fresh over time.
- Trending keywords: Keywords that are generally time-sensitive and lose search volume relatively quickly.
All written content must be constructed in a way that is desktop and mobile-friendly. On average, a piece of content has (regardless of a flawless technical setup) less than 10 seconds to make an impression on the user. Some criteria need to be filled in to achieve a positive first impression. They include:
- An interest-grabbing headline
- A concise, informative introduction – no more than 30 words
- Clear, explanatory subheadings
You may have written award-winning body content, but if the above factors aren’t present, it might as well be placeholder text. All obstacles must be successfully solved, and the solutions should be mapped out before any content is written.
If SEO copywriting were to be summed up in two sentences, it would be
“The technical aspects strategically find out the questions people are asking, and the optimised, published article answers them in a clear, concise manner that still informs and entertains to elicit the desired action.”