Search engine optimisation is always at the forefront of any writers’ mind. We all want our content to be seen by as many relevant people as possible, and that rings true for bloggers, influencers, small businesses, large businesses and everything in between. Because getting under the eyes of your target market with interesting, problem solving content is what sells. With this in mind, we’ve put together a checklist of 11 things to remember when creating SEO-friendly website copy, to act as a reminder to help you get the most out of your web content.
1. Write for your reader
It’s important to avoid alienating human visitors to your website in favour of keyword optimisation. Whilst it’s imperative your content contains relevant keywords (we’ll discuss in more detail in point 2), it’s potentially more important that your copy is written for your target audience. Google is hot on user-first content, so you need to ensure your copy reflects that and is effective at answering any relevant user-based questions and queries.
2. Conduct keyword research
Using tools like Google Keyword Planner, choose a handful of short and longtail keywords that are relevant to the topic, product or service you’re writing about. Include these in your copy where they fit naturally, without interrupting the overall flow. If you read your work back and it sounds jarring where you’ve placed the keywords, rework it, as to get the most out of your content and have it ranking as high as possible, you’ll need to get it right.
3. Optimise meta tags
Meta tags, including the title tag and meta description, are crucial for on-page SEO. Craft compelling meta tags that accurately describe your content while enticing users to click through. Keep the title tag within 60 characters and the meta description within 160 characters for optimal display in search results.
4. Use headers
Headers, especially relevant within longer form copy, help both the reader and Google, understand what the content of the page is about. Consider yourself the consumer, trying to skim read (as that’s what a majority of us do!) a page that is just paragraph after paragraph of words is almost impossible, and you lose interest quickly. By placing the correct headers within the content, it breaks it up better, highlights clear sections, and keeps your audience’s interest for longer as they can find what they’re looking for.
5. Use images to support the main message
A picture is worth a thousand words they say. But that doesn’t mean you should clutter your pages with unnecessary pictures. Find just the right images (or even GIFs if it suits your audience) to support the main message of your website and each of its pages. Remember, search engines cannot read pictures (although they can read the alt tags so be sure to add these in), but your human visitors can really be persuaded by good quality, professional looking images.
6. Copy length
Copy length is a tricky one as it’s a case of ‘how long is a piece of string?’. It really depends on the topic and the type of content you’re producing. However, as an example, you can’t expect Google to rank a blog post in position 1 based on 50 words. It just doesn’t include enough information. So, as a ballpark figure, aim for at least 250 words to get your message across, but also try to keep your copy informative and to the point. Users are highly unlikely to engage with reams and reams of irrelevant text.
7. Quality links
External links to reputable information sources, or internal links to products, services and further information are ticks on the checklist to creating SEO-friendly content. Even better, if you’re skilled enough to create content that’s useful for other brands, businesses or blogs, they may link to your work, and quality backlinks are another valuable thing for SEO.
8. Optimise for featured snippets
Featured snippets are concise pieces of information displayed at the top of search results. If you structure your content in a way that answers common questions effectively, this will mean your content is more likely to appear as a featured snippet on the results pages. For tips on precisely how to gain featured snippets without worrying about adding structured data to the HTML, have a read of our featured snippets blog post.
9. Benefits not features
In most cases, users want to know how to solve problems. We ask Google all kinds of questions on a daily basis, so providing content that benefits the user far outweighs anything else. Thinking about ‘what’s in it for the user?’ can help steer the content in the right direction, plus, it helps to drive user trust if you’re a dependable source of information for your industry or niche.
10. Proof reading
Proof reading often gets overlooked, as it tends to be the final step in the process of content creation. However, it’s a good idea to get another person to have a quick read through your copy to pick up any errors, as the chances are your users are going to notice them.
11. Regularly update and refresh content
Search engines tend to favour fresh and updated content. Revisiting your web copy to ensure it reflects the latest trends and information in your industry is always a good idea. Add new sections, update statistics, and refresh your keywords as necessary.
We hope these tips work as a checklist and help when it comes to crafting search optimised content. If you need help with content marketing strategy or other on-page techniques, be sure to visit our content marketing services.