6 Modern SEO Concepts Copywriters Should Action
10 June 2014, Jonathan Saipe
There has been a lot of debate recently about the general state of play and usefulness of SEO copywriting. “SEO copywriting is dead” is one of the most ubiquitously cited phrases among SEOs.
Do I agree with that statement? Well it depends how you define SEO copywriting.
SEO copywriting has completely transformed over a decade, yet still old school myths continue to inculcate and confuse digital marketers.
Gone are the days of measuring keyword density, spamdexing with over-repetition, the meta keywords tag or abusing the footer sitemap with repetitive anchor text. And thank goodness for that! It all smelled of cheap tricks with no regard for the visitor.
So what is the new SEO copywriting? Check out 6 concepts that help define ‘modern’ SEO copywriting and confirm that it most certainly is alive and kicking.
1. SEO is about UX Marketing
If you analyse Google’s intentions following their ‘panda‘ and ‘top heavy‘ updates, it boiled down to improving the user experience. No one wants to land on a page packed with ads or unoriginal content. Chances are you will bounce back to SERPs and “return to search” will become an increasingly important metric. So improving UX is the name of the game.
Further corroborating the UX focus is page speed. Google has had a growing fixation on page speed since its announcement in 2010. Common sense says, fast page load times will improve the user experience.
Content lies at the heart of improving UX. Content should be carefully crafted for audiences not Google. Of course it’s useful to consider the most relevant long tail search queries when writing your content, but also think about those ‘care words’; words that customer may not necessarily search for, but expect to see when arriving at a page; words that convey trust and give confidence.
2. Metadata is about people not search engines
It’s important to stop thinking about website metadata as a direct ranking factor. Gone are the days where a quick tweak to your page title or meta description will directly impact your rank.
When writing metadata, think about your audiences. What will attract that all important click? What’s the hook? Think of metadata as ad copy.
Jakob Nielsen famously recommended that passive voice is redeemed for web headings, and in many ways you can adopt a similar approach to writing metadata, especially meta descriptions.
You should also be thinking about writing effective social metadata which will optimise your exposure on social channels. The Moz blog summarises this beautifully.
If you haven’t already done so, bend the ear of your developer and tell him/her to install Open Graph meta tags, Twitter Cards and schema.org markup on your site and CMS.
You might say, “this isn’t copywriting, it’s SEO!”, but a true SEO copywriter will be recommending additional metadata to their colleagues and/or clients to improve exposure and clicks.
3. Migration from keyword difficulty to content strategy
Competitor analysis plays a big role in SEO. When analysing competitors at the keyword level, the landscape can be scary, with new competitors appearing from nowhere. An SME site struggling for rank, might find itself competing against giants such as Wikipedia, media owners and aggregators.
Rather than focus at the keyword level, consider your site-wide content strategy. Are you delivering the right kind of content to your target audience? And how responsive are you to the increasing demands of a mobile audience? You may well find many gaps in your competitors’ content strategy that you can easily plug.
Remember, modern SEO copywriting is not just about fixation at the keyword level, but also the broader content piece.
4. Content marketing – the new SEO copywriting?
Branded3 recently blogged copywriting is dead, long live copywriting. The premise of the article was that SEO copywriting may soon be moving on to pastures new. My personal view is that it needs to be redefined rather than entirely disposed of.
Indeed content marketing, with its focus on customer- and brand-centricity, appears to be a logical evolution of SEO copywriting. Whilst content marketing is as old as books and newspapers, it fits ever so snugly in the new world of SEO where customers, brand and reputation reign supreme.
5. Size does matter
I’m often asked ‘what is the optimum length of a piece of content?’ And the answer is, ‘well it depends on your audience needs, versus your objectives’.
Usability experts will argue that long pieces of content are less likely to be read to the end, whilst SEO folk will argue that long content equates to more topical ‘richness’. Both are valid.
If you’re wearing an SEO copywriter’s hat, there have been various studies that demonstrate the positive correlation between length and rank, where longer content is more likely to earn a greater number of LRDs (linking root domains).
Remember, however, audiences come first, but if you happen to earn links to your 1000 word blog post, you probably deserve them