A few weeks ago, we shared with you all the different types of people behind a website build—one of them being a copywriter. Many people reached out to us and said they had no idea the different considerations professional website writers have to take, including search engine optimisation. This led to more questions about how you actually write for SEO, so we thought we’d put together this guide for businesses looking to take a stab at writing their own website copy.
Remember, while your copy is a large SEO factor, it’s not the only one. You’ll also need to master your coding, design, user experience and a multitude of other factors for SEO best practice. If you do need help with your copy, design, development, SEO, hosting or anything to do with your website, we’re happy to help. Learn more here or contact us now.
Now, onto the tips!
Tips for Writing a Website for Search Engines
Choose Your Keywords & Keyword Cloud Before Your Write
A keyword is how you tell search engines, such as Google, what every page on your website is about. Every page will have their own keyword, which could be made up of a single word, a few words or a phrase (known as a long-tail keyword).
How do you find the right keyword for every page?
The easiest way to work out your keywords is to use a spreadsheet (or notepad) with three columns.
Column 1: The name of every page (homepage, about us page, services, bookings, etc.).
Column 2: The word or phrase you think sums up each page, or what people would search for to find that particular page on Google. For example, on your About page, you may call it “About XYZ Hairdressing”.
Column 3: Time to research. Create a free Google Ads account and visit their keyword planner. Enter your first proposed keyword and hit ‘Get Started’. Next, go to your locations tab and hone it into where you’re located. Go back to the Keyword Ideas tab and click on the ‘Avg. Monthly Searches’ column heading. This will them from highest volume to lowest. You may find people are searching more for a suburb, rather than a region or another particular phrase. Write the best fit for each page in the third column.
Please note: This is basic keyword research and may not return the best possible results a professional would have the time and knowledge to perform. However, the actual process can be tedious, so we’ve kept it as basic as possible so you can keep your sanity.
Where should you put keywords?
We’ll talk a little more about page structure below, but there are some places you should specifically place your keywords or phrases, where they fit naturally. They include:
– Page title.
– Title tag (shown in the browser tab).
– Header 1 (also known as a H1).
– Alt text (on images).
– Throughout your copy (see below for how much).
What’s a keyword cloud?
A keyword cloud refers to terms related to the keyword you have chosen. You’ll want to use a variety of words to assert your authority on the topic, which Google will love (see below for more).
For example, if your select keyword is balayage hair, you may want to use words such as brown balayage, blonde balayage, highlights, balayage for curly hair, etc. Think of it like answering all the questions someone may want to know about a specific topic.
How many times should you add a keyword to a page?
Back in the day, it was common practice to put a keyword on a web page as many times as humanly possible. Google and other search engines wised onto this tactic for exploiting their algorithms and they have labelled this practice (known as keyword stuffing) as a blackhat (bad, very bad) strategy.
So, how many times should you use a keyword? The easiest way to avoid keyword stuffing is to write for the user (see below for more) and not worrying about your keyword density. Your copy should naturally include these keywords and your keyword cloud as you write. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t be using your keyword more than once every 150 words, focusing on trying to work keywords where it matters most (see above).
Put Your Users First & Search Engines Second
Let’s put it this way; Google wants to provide the most relevant answer to a search query. While playing copywriter, you should focus on predicting and answering the questions your customers or potential customers would ask. At all times, you should be focusing on why something benefits them and the solution it provides to solve a problem they have.
This is when answering the classic ‘5 Ws’ (who, what, when, where and why) will keep you on track. Ensure you’ve answered the relevant Ws for each product and service. And remember, focus on the reader, not your business.
Get Your Strategy Hat on for Your Layout
When the Google spider (what checks a web page to check its eligibility for a search term) crawls a website, it enters on the left and reads to the right, working from top to bottom. It will follow links, following the same left-to-right, top-to-bottom process. For you, this means you need to put the most important information at the top.
There is a whole science behind the number of headings (1 maximum for Heading 1s, for example) and where to place them (Heading 1 at the top, always), placing Q&As, where to put call to actions (known as CTAs) and paragraph length—to name a few. Remember, a copywriter undergoes years of training and is constantly learning to stay up to date, so reaching out for help could save you a lot of hassle.
If you do want to continue on your own with your content, remembering the left-to-right, top-to-bottom Google-crawling pattern and to write for your user should be your top priority.
Create Unique Content People Care About
A good copywriter will tell you to leave your ego at the door while writing for your website. All people tend to care about is what you offer, how much it is and will you do a good job—answer these questions and you’re good.
And before you take any shortcuts and copy any content from another website, STOP! When Google detects duplicate content without any value having been added, they’ll simply leave your web page. The original source is assumed as the authority on the subject, so they’ll most likely get the traffic to view their content.
Create your own content from scratch, remembering to think about what questions people may ask about your business, products and services, and answering them in your copy.
Hire a Proofreader
Even a professional copywriter needs a proofreader. The brain tends to make you read how a page should read, not necessarily how it is—especially if you’re the one who wrote it. People are more inclined to leave a web page with spelling and grammar mistakes, and if people are leaving too soon, Google may think you’re not providing answers. And if you’re not providing answers, they’ll put someone who can above you on the search results.
To double the value of your proofreader, ensure they are up to date with the latest SEO strategies so they can advise of anywhere you need to tweak.
Update Your Content Regularly
You could spend days crafting the perfect content, adhering perfectly to Google’s algorithm for copy, just to wind up not performing in a few months time. “Why?” you wail in despair. As is the game of SEO.
Google are always looking for the best way to provide the best answer to a question. Technology changes, so does how to people search—and so does Google. To keep up with them, you also have to be regularly updating your content. Whether it’s the structuring or adding several blogs a week, you have to be investing time into your content for it to work.
This is why professional copywriters are always researching and learning, as well as working directly with SEO specialists to stay in the loop. For you, as a business owner trying to write your own content, you probably don’t have time for this. You can’t do everything.
Localsearch’s team of professional copywriters and SEO specialists will ensure you stay on your game for the long term. Just give us a call on 1300 36 0867 or email us on [email protected] and we’ll be here for you as long as you need.