Writing for SEO
The thing about writing for SEO is that when you’re writing for SEO, then the focus tends to be on getting the keywords on writing for SEO. When you’re writing for SEO, the more times you use the keywords writing for SEO, the more likely Google is to see that you’re writing for SEO.
While writing for SEO like that may improve your keyword density, this type of writing for SEO is frankly painful to read, which you may have found when reading this blog.
What’s SEO all about then?
Judging by the volume of spam emails I get from companies worldwide offering their SEO services, it’s quite a popular topic. Essentially there are two sides to SEO:
This is the techy bit. It’s what your website designer should be sorting out. Page titles, meta-tags, meta-descriptions, H1, H2, H3 headings, and suchlike. It’s not an area I’m an expert in, so you’re better off finding a great web designer and letting them deal with that side of things.
Another word for the front-end is content. It’s the words on your website that people read.
As a copywriter, this is my domain.
Why is content important for your website?
This is where I’m going to use the nerve-jangling phrase “Google Algorithm”. As a side note, if anyone tells you they’re an expert on Google’s algorithm, they aren’t. Along with who killed Kennedy and the KFC recipe, it’s the most closely guarded secret in the world.
However, we do know that Google’s focus is on “searcher intent”. It wants to show the most relevant websites to answer the searcher’s question. How it does that is somewhat complicated. But, to simplify, it’s not only about your website having the keywords that match words in the searcher’s question. It’s about the quality of your website. Specifically, whether Google thinks you have a quality website.
How does Google know you have a quality website?
It measures every action a visitor takes when visiting your website. If you want to know everything, get Google Analytics, and you’ll see all your stats.
Two of the key measures (from a copywriting perspective) are the bounce rate and session duration.
A bounce is when a visitor goes to one page of your website then leaves without taking any other action. For example, if they go to your home page from a search, then leave it straight away. Clearly, a low bounce rate is desirable, but you’ll never get it to zero. As a rough guide, less than 40% is good. Google explain it in detail here if you want to know more.
Session duration is essentially how long a visitor spends on your website, so you want this measure to be high. Again, Google explains the detail here if that’s your bag.
Your content will directly affect both of these measures, so that’s where I’m focusing my attention.
How to improve your bounce rate
Let’s start by thinking about why someone visits your website. Apart from your mum, they haven’t gone there for fun. They have a problem which they think you’ll be able to help them solve.
If they don’t see that you can help them with that problem immediately after landing on your site, they leave. Your bounce rate then goes through the roof.
As such, the first words on your website must get their attention. And the best way to do that is to ask a question that frames their problem. For example, a legal firm’s website could start with, “Do you want to go to jail?” (Ok, that’s a bold move, but it will get the reader’s attention). The next line could then be “Keep your freedom by clicking here…” and a button that will navigate them to the criminal defence page on your website.
By taking that action on the home page, the visitor has lowered your bounce rate. Obviously, the next page needs to draw them in further and convince them of the firm’s ability to keep them out of jail, but that’s another blog.
How to improve your session duration
If you follow the advice on bounce rates, you will have already kept your visitor on your site long enough to view another page. The content on that page has to hold their attention a little longer, then navigate them to the next page you want them to see.
However, there is a limit to how many pages a visitor will be bothered to click through. In fact, you actively want them to take the quickest route through to your ultimate desired action, i.e. the thing you really want them to do, like contact you or buy your product. So, it’s not a great idea to fill your pages with text to make them hang around longer reading it because they won’t. People scan websites, so you have to give them scannable content to understand that you can solve their problem. A wall of text will have visitors bouncing away like kids on an inflatable castle.
There are other ways of keeping people on your website, and one of them is with a library of blogs for them to read. Blogs are great because they allow you to answer your visitor’s specific questions. Using the legal firm example, they could have blogs on what a solicitor does, how to sue someone, reasons to take legal advice, typical costs – the options are endless. Once they have a few blogs on different topics, they can then hyperlink them together, which means the visitor moves around the website and stays on it longer. Google sees the session duration increase and deduces that the website has interesting content, pushing that website up the search results when another person uses the same search term.
As those blogs become individual pages on your website, they are searchable. Nowadays, people ask Google full questions like, “How much does a solicitor cost?” If that legal firm had a blog with that title, it would show up in the search results, and they will get a visitor that way.
There is no downside to creating interesting, informative, and helpful content on your website.
The best way to write for SEO is to create copy that helps the reader solve a problem. If they gain knowledge from your article, they spend more time on your website reading other articles. And Google loves people hanging out on your website more than it loves you spamming keywords through your text.
A skilled copywriter can help you craft the content you need to make Google see your website as high quality, which is a massive part of writing for SEO (I couldn’t resist that last keyword spam).