SEO copywriting has been a topic talked about by many experts far and wide. With everyone trying to get on the coveted first page of Google search results – 71% of all search traffic clicks goes to the first page, after all – it’s not hard to see why.
Better rankings mean more visitors. And more visitors mean more chances of getting conversions.
Now the question is: are you optimizing your website’s SEO to both rank on Google and convert visitors into leads? Our 10-point SEO copywriting checklist can point you in the right direction.
But before we jump into the checklist, let’s first take a look at how SEO’s evolved over the years.
The Evolution of SEO
Is SEO dead? Far from it.
But the tips and tricks that you might have heard about search engine optimization several years ago may no longer apply, especially considering how much search engines and their algorithms have evolved.
Google, for one, has come a long way since its earlier days, banning dubious black hat SEO techniques and integrating more intuitive, consumer-first AI in its algorithms.
You can watch this video to hear Google’s own Gary Illyes talk about what RankBrain, its current algorithm update, can and can’t do.
Bottomline: with these algorithm changes comes the task to update your own SEO strategies. And if your ultimate goal is to turn more visitors into leads and customers, then you’re going to want to rely on both proven SEO techniques and excellent copywriting.
Now we can take a look at these 10 SEO copywriting tips to help you get ranked on search engines while also optimizing your website’s conversion rate.
SEO Copywriting Checklist
Focus on your customers’ wants and needs
There’s a difference between good copy and excellent copy.
Good copy can have perfect grammar, syntax, and punctuation, but if that copy isn’t convincing people to sign up for a newsletter, buy a product, make an inquiry, or whatever end goal you had in mind, then it’s not excellent copy.
Excellent copywriting convinces people to stay on your page, keep reading what you have to say, and later on take a specific action you want them to take.
One of the best ways to make sure your copy resonates with visitors to turn them into leads? Knowing their wants and needs.
When you can identify specific pain points or real problems that your customers are facing, you can craft your messages in a way that makes sense to readers and even weed out people you don’t want as leads.
When your copy resonates, people are less likely to feel friction about your offer.
End result? More quality conversions.
To help you determine your customers’ wants and needs, you can create a buyer persona, helping you get a better grasp at who your customer really is and how your business can solve their greatest pains.
Below is a great example of a clear buyer persona, highlighting the buyer’s exact desires and pain points.
Source: Neil Patel
Write for humans, not machines
While your SEO and site rankings are largely determined by web crawlers and machines, at the end of the day, you’re talking to actual human beings who could become valuable customers for your business.
Because of this, you need to focus on SEO copywriting that makes sense to humans, not machines. Talk in the language of your customers: phrase things in ways that makes sense to them, use real words they would use to describe their pains and struggles and desired solutions.
Trello illustrates this example well on their homepage.
They could have gone on and on about how they are a project management software with these and those functionality, integrations and the like.
But at the end of the day, they know they’re talking to human beings looking to manage their projects better, so they instead focus on that, stating things in plain English in a way anybody can understand.
Create compelling headlines
You could have written the greatest blog post in the world, complete with relevant research, great writing, and an awesome CTA. But if your headline doesn’t work as hard as your actual content, then you’re missing out.
Here are some important characteristics of a compelling headline that gets people to click through to your site:
Contains numbers (ex. “4 Ways to…”)
Are between 5-9 words (or 16-18 for unfamiliar topics)
Use a two-part model (i.e. a sub-heading or sub-title)
Are very, very clear (ex. “Great places to eat in Italy” vs “Top 10 Pizza Places to Visit in Rome”)
Use bucket brigades
Bucket brigades add an extra special something to your copy.
By doing this!
Confused? Essentially, bucket brigades are short sentences, usually only a few words each, that keep readers hooked to your content, moving on to the next line to get answers or more context.
Brian Dean from Backlinko is known to do this a lot in his blog posts. See an example below:
Some examples of bucket brigades you can use are:
- Have you ever…
- Did you know…
- Let me explain:
Sprinkle these throughout your landing pages and blog posts, and you’ll have readers stuck to the page like glue.
Make your content mobile-friendly
As of July 2019, Google has announced implementing its mobile-first index, meaning that it now uses a mobile crawler to index and rank websites.
What this means? If you’re not optimized for mobile, your site won’t get ranked.
Aside from identifying the common culprits of a slow-loading page, think about how your content actually appears on mobile.
Do your videos scale properly? Do links and buttons stand out and indicate they’re clickable?
You can easily check how mobile-friendly your site is from Google itself.
Optimize for local search
Local SEO is a huge win for both small businesses and large companies alike.
As the name suggests, this means optimizing your site and pages based on your local neighborhood, such as your city, town, or state. 46% of people are searching for local information on search engines, while 82% of people have used “near me” searches in the past.
Focus on optimizing your site with effective on-page local SEO techniques, some of which include mentioning your business Name, Address, and Phone (NAP) on a dedicated Contact page, embedding a Google Map on your website, and using relevant local keywords.
Have an eye-catching meta description
Meta descriptions can convert casual searchers to website visitors, increasing your conversion rate in the long-run. Since these descriptions help search engines understand what your content or page is about, you’re also implementing a valuable step to get better site rankings.
Focus on meta descriptions that answer your customers’ search query, convincing them that your page contains all the information they were looking for.
If you were to do a search for the keyword “meta description,” for example, take a look at the top-ranking pages and their own meta descriptions.
All the results indicate that they can tell you what a meta description is, as well as explaining how to create your own for better on-page SEO.
Maximize keyword intent
Jumping off from the previous example, you can write better meta descriptions if you first understand the intent behind the search.
This is called keyword intent, or the main reason behind a user’s search.
Wordstream has grouped search queries into three categories: informational, navigational, and transactional.
Informational searches help a user learn more about a particular topic. Navigational searches help them reach a specific website. And transactional searches are performed with the intent to purchase something.
You can tweak your meta descriptions and meta titles according to keyword intent. If you were a gadget retailer, for example, you might assume a customer would look for the best smartphone for mobile photography.
Following this, you might create a blog post entitled “15 Best Smartphones for Mobile Photography in 2019” or a smartphone comparison that focuses on camera specs.
Bottomline: when you understand why your customers are searching what they’re searching, you can create better content and better copy to rank as a relevant search result and take them through your marketing funnel.
Apply the proper tags
Title tags appear on search results and can help you rank higher. Adding keywords like your business name or high intent keywords like “Buy,” or “Best.”
Moz recommends following the format of Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name for title tags, keeping it between 50-60 characters.
See how the first search result for “learn violin online” applies this format, using two main keywords and its brand name at the end.
Tell a story
Storytelling plays a key role in effective copywriting. If you can captivate visitors with your brand story or promise, it becomes easier to turn them into customers and, later, loyal fans.
Your story should show readers who your brand is, but also while showing them that, with your brand, they can reach the same possibilities or results.
Inject storytelling in the form of humor, case studies, transformations.
Even a good research-backed blog post counts as a story, as you’re narrating insights and learnings from different sources of data. The Content Marketing Institute has even found that research reports and studies is the most valued type of content out there.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
When you’re looking to increase your conversion rates, there’s no emphasizing enough the importance of first getting more traffic to your site. And the best way to get more organic traffic is still focusing on excellent, high-converting SEO copywriting.
Needless to say, these techniques won’t get you on the first page of Google overnight. But good SEO copywriting works as a virtuous cycle: the better you implement it, the higher you rank, the more traffic you get, and the more conversions and customers you make.