Perhaps you feel a sense of apprehension when your client asks you to conduct Search Engine Optimization (SEO) research or to include keywords and phrases into your copy. You’re concerned about getting the right formula or weaving words into your writing that don’t sound natural at all. Well, you can relax. The only rule that truly matters with SEO copywriting is that you create something of value to the reader. This lets you off the hook from producing keyword-stuffed drivel that turns readers off and does not get ranked by the search engines anyway. While keyword density was once a real thing, Google now frowns upon material that was obviously written for search engines and not for people.
As with any article, one that you write for SEO purpose should have a unique angle, an interesting title, and a powerful lead sentence to hook the reader in addition to solving a problem or imparting new information. Once you have these things figured out, you can move on to creating a list of keywords and phrases for possible inclusion in your article.
Creating Your Seed List
A number of tools exist on the Internet to help you with keyword research. Some are free and others you must subscribe to. Google Ad Words is perhaps the best-known keyword research tool since this is where many people go to plan their Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. The gist of these services is that you enter your topic and receive several possible keywords and phrase combinations that will help readers find your article. For example, if you’re writing about a product that helps to reduce the risk of melanoma skin cancer, some of your SEO choices might include prevent melanoma, melanoma prevention, how to prevent melanoma, and stop melanoma.
Depending on which service you use, you may receive statistics that show the percentage of people who have searched for similar material using an exact key phrase in the past month. You also have the option of brainstorming SEO words and phrases yourself. Write down anything you can possibly think of that relates to the subject of your article. This is the seed list that you will use for reference later. When writing marketing content for a site like Content Runner, the client usually performs the keyword research in advance and sometimes instructs you on the words and phrases to include. It’s still good to know how to perform this research yourself.
Headings and Meta Descriptions
Some clients may ask you to include <h1> or <h2> headings as well as meta descriptions when you write content for them. You don’t have to shy away from this. The <h1> heading is the title of the article and should include some form of the keywords or phrases you and your client mutually agreed to use. This is the first thing potential readers see when they view their search engine results. The <h2> is a sub-heading that helps to further define <h1>.
A meta description is one or two sentences that describes what the reader can expect to learn about by clicking through to the article. It should be as SEO-rich as possible. When writing it, keep in mind that Google starts cutting off meta descriptions once they reach 160 characters. It will show several ellipses that indicate the web searcher must go to the website to continue reading. If you are willing to do this for a client, it will make you all the more valuable because it saves him her time that could be better spent researching and marketing.
How to Make SEO Sound as Natural as Possible in Your Copy
It’s always best to write the way people actually speak. If your keyword phrase is contractors Arizona, it would be better to write this as contractors in Arizona or even Arizona contractors. Google refers to these small extra words as stop words and it ignores them when scanning your copy. You can also add punctuation marks to break up a key phrase to help it sound more natural. However, there isn’t much you can do if your client insists on using keywords and phrases exactly as he or she has provided them to you. In that case, do you best to choose your wording for the rest of the sentence so that is doesn’t sound awkward and provides value to the reader beyond just SEO.
For this example, “When you’re looking for contractors Arizona, consider that our company has an A plus rating with the Better Business Bureau” sounds better than “Hire our contractors Arizona to work for you.” The sentence should flow without causing the reader to pause to figure out what you mean. SEO terminology in the first sentence, last paragraph, and approximately once for all other paragraphs is more than sufficient for the search engines to pick up on when they index your work. Some client may not even want this much.
Remember that SEO is the primary purpose of the work that you complete on Content Runner. Many clients don’t request that you include it because they edit your article to work it in themselves. Even so, you can put yourself in high demand by offering to help with their SEO efforts. This shows that you are invested in their success beyond just getting paid for an article and they are more likely to want to work with you exclusively.