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SEO Copywriting In 2021: The Definitive Guide

SEO copywriting is indeed about weaving keywords into text in order to appear at the top of a given search. But it is also about creating content that is genuinely useful and genuinely interesting because, well, everyone is playing the keywords game for one. 

And second, popularity also has a bearing on whether your content will continue to appear at the top in search. Third, if you have delivered useful content to a given searcher on a prior occasion, he or she is very likely to click on your link from among the many that emerge from a search, the next time you pop up amidst a search they are conducting. 

  1. Understand the audience 

Write for your audience. This means understanding what lingo and slang they like to use – this might mean being completely businesslike and flavourless for some audiences, going jargon-heavy for niche markets and using colloquialisms for other audiences. Your SEO copywriting keywords are not the only keywords you need to use – there are also keywords that will make your audience’s ears perk up.  

Writing good SEO copy also means appealing to potential readers by citing situations that they might be familiar with to hook them into your blog post or article. You don’t hook someone into reading a blog about signing up for a credit card by saying “Sign up for this credit card because….”. You might have better luck if you say, “Did you just say no to that white summer shirt you’re dying to buy because you’re trying to save up for a smartphone?” But to achieve a hook like that, you must understand your audience. 

Locking on to pop culture elements is also an excellent way to strike a chord with your audience. When the whole world was watching Game of Thrones about two years or so ago, lots and lots of writers alluded to it in their content. Making your audience giggle or reminisce is the sure-fire way to forge a bond and beget a share or a like. 

Spotify uses several of these techniques very effectively in its “Get premium now” advertisements. 

  1. Pick keywords at the right time 

The world’s best pastry chef will be at a loss when it comes to baking an excellent cake if his ingredients are stale. So it is with SEO copywriting. Keywords that are stale or overdone are unlikely to yield the results that you are seeking.

Look for keywords that are trending but try and ensure you are not a laggard when it comes to putting up your content. There are various tools out there that can tell you whether a keyword is on the upswing or on a downward trajectory. You need to churn out content when the given keyword is picking up readers and viewers, not when the internet is losing interest in the subject. 

The fundamentals in play here are the same ones employed by stock traders who buy stocks at low prices and sell them once the price reaches its peak. It is also the same logic applied by fashion influencers – flaunt a trend when it is new and move on swiftly when the masses catch on to it. 

You can check the historic performance of keywords that have an annual cycle and plan your content accordingly. For example, do people start reading about Christmas gift ideas in December when the holiday season is underway, or do they start doing their research a couple of months earlier? 

Pro tip – about to miss the bus on a keyword? Have similar content that you created last year or the last time the keyword appeared? Simply change up the headline and intro to update the content. Avoid doing this as a regular practice, but you could definitely keep this trick up your sleeve for an emergency. 

  1. Understand how google measures not just relevance, but also authority 

Simply using the keywords a ton of times does not make your content appear at the top of a search. This is in fact one of the most misunderstood facts about SEO copywriting. You must avoid force-fitting a keyword because it becomes distracting and you risk annoying your reader. 

It is instead important to focus on relevance and usefulness of the content – as discussed earlier – because your article’s popularity is not just linked to relevance but also authority. Now relevance can perhaps be manipulated by scaling up keyword mentions but views, likes and shares will determine the authority of your content. 

Do also offer easy sharing capability for your content. Include a share button that lets people share on all the social platforms that they use habitually. Don’t only bank on public posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Also allow for private sharing via Facebook and Instagram messenger, WhatsApp, Hangouts and Telegram. Again this circles back to knowing your audience. 

  1. Use tried and tested persuasive techniques 

Go back to the persuasive essay techniques that your English teacher might have coached you in, back when you were still in school. You’re looking to make either an emotional appeal or a logical appeal to your reader, or at best you’re looking to appeal to their sense of ethics. 

  • As a result, you will use figures and statistics that will help you to appeal to their sense of logic. You might also include an expert comment – or a celebrity testimonial – to support your point of view and convince your audience. A proverb or saying might also be employed.
  • When making an emotional appeal, you will use something like the ‘Did you just say no to that white summer shirt’ cue that we discussed earlier. For example, life insurance companies and ‘healthy cooking oil’ brands play on people’s fear of a loved one or provider passing away due to a sudden heart attack. 
  • When appealing to their sense of ethics you might use contrasts and analogies to convince a reader to buy into your call-to-action. 
  1. Learn to be interesting 

Godmen are professionals at making the most drab, often done-to-death topics interesting. And how do they do it? With jokes and little stories of course. Take a cue from the most inspiring preachers out there and intersperse truckloads of information with bursts and spurts of jokes and analogies. This serves to keep the content light. And just when your reader starts to tire and reach for his phone (or another website/ blog), you will hold him fast with a breath of fresh air in the form of some lighter veined sentences. 

As we mentioned earlier, allusions to popular culture keep people interested. Don’t restrict yourself. You can allude to any cultural element that you are comfortable with, across music, movies, series’, celebrities and world events. 

It is also important to update the way you use language. Metaphors and similes are timeless tools, but how you use them today is entirely different as compared to how you might have used them a few years ago. “Use our three-way workout band to be fit as a fiddle in a month” makes me yawn, but “Use our three-way workout band and you’ll be so fit that people will be asking you to make your own fitness videos” might bring a small smile to the readers’ face. 

Use questions as often as possible to hold your readers’ attention and to make them feel like they are in a conversation with you. Make him or her feel seen; like they are part of the equation. Questions – although readers are aware that the content is mass produced – give the reader the sense that the information has been tailored to his or her unique needs. 

  1. Make content ‘accessible’ 

Curtains of text might feel like an achievement to a writer – and agreed, it is no mean feat churning out tomes of text. But to a reader, it can be off-putting. Remember that a lot of people simply skim through articles. There will be readers who read line after line and word after word, but in all likelihood, a greater number simply skim. As a result, content must be skim-friendly. This means that there should be multiple text elements, not just a headline and then the content below it. Here are some proven best practices: 

  • Have a headline and a meta description that promises the reader an improvement, answer or a solution to some situation, question or problem. 
  • Use subheads, text straps and bullet lists to highlight important points. These should appear in a different font or at least in a different colour. 
  • Important quotes or figures can be put in call outs, or as decorative (short) text that hangs beside the main body of the article or that is “called out” from the main text in a gulf of blank space between two paragraphs, perhaps. One might also highlight these in bubbles or text boxes. These elements also make the page more visually appealing. 
  • Graphs and pie charts can be employed to give a snapshot of information in content that revolves around trends or numbers. 
  • Photographs, icons and vectors can be used to offer a similar snapshot of information where visual aids would be more useful. 
  • Information can also be summarised with the help of an infographic or a box with the top points at the end of a given article or blog post. Another option is to have a deep caption or a large photo that hits the nail on the head, with only a few lines about the topic below it. Circling back to our point on ranking based on authority, make this element an independently shareable feature. 

To conclude, the rules of SEO writing are no different from any kind of writing,  aside from the need to mention keywords at regular intervals. As long as you know your audience, stay relevant and interesting and present the text in digestible portions, you are on the right track. 

Author avatar
Shriya Garg
Shriya is the co-founder and CEO at ContentNinja. She started her first blog when she was 12 years old, and coded her first website by the time she was 14. An avid reader and writer, she published her first book when she was 16 years old and has sold over 10,000 copies since. When she's not fielding client calls, Shriya can be found cleaning cat hair from her clothes.