These fundamental rules of SEO copywriting can help improve the readability of your content. It can also contribute to better rankings.
It’s important to understand that your readers should always be prioritised, not search engines. There are of course SEO elements that should be taken into consideration throughout but if the content doesn’t grasp your reader’s attention it will fail.
- Plan your content in advance with SEO in mind. Map your visitors’ needs, desires, and search behaviour with the keywords they may use to find you.
- Writing for humans and optimising for Google will help your content rank for your targeted search terms to reach the right customers.
- Focus your energy on writing the best content you can. Optimise the content later. Writing for search engines first makes it impossible to re-work it for humans.
- Make your post easy to scan. This can be achieved through clever formatting and using white space, headings, subheadings, highlighting, bullet points appropriately.
- Use high-quality images, charts, graphics and video, where possible, to enhance the reader’s experience.
So lets get into the detail…
1. Understand (and match) keyword intent
If there’s any secret to ranking well on Google it’s this; user intent! How many blog owners find a great keyword, write and publish an amazing piece of content, only to see no traction in the search engine search results.
Why? Because the content didn’t match user intent.
User intent means the reason someone has searched in a search engine. Why they searched, be it for information, or looking for a particular solution to a problem they have.
In SEO there are three main search intents:
- Informational – a user wants to gather information about a subject, product, or business
- Navigational – a user visits a particular webpage or website
- Commercial – a user utilises a search engine intending to purchase a product or a service
When you plan your keyword research, it’s in your best interest to choose various intent keywords that focus on the entire search journey of your target audience.
2. Headlines matter! Read all about it!
If you want your copy to perform to its utmost, then you must write irresistible headlines. Statistics show 80% of readers never make it past the headline. The sole purpose of a headline is to entice searchers to read your first sentence.
Powerful and clickable headlines contain the four U’s
- The headline should be Unique
- It has to be Ultra-specific
- Deliver a Sense of Urgency
- Your headline must be Useful
Remember to include your main keyword in the headline. It’s good for search engine rankings, but it sends the message to your readers to click on the link because they’ve found what they’re looking for.
Numbers are important in your headlines, many authority sites strive to always include numbers. One thing they have in common is number psychology.
It takes practice to write click-worthy headlines, but there are resources to help until they become second nature to you, for example, Headline Analyser by CoSchedule.
3. The first sentence is crucial
We’ve already said if the headline doesn’t grab the reader’s attention, there’s little chance your article will be read. Hence the reason why the headline is the most important bit of copy, but what’s the next most important? Whatever you’re writing, the first sentence must stand out and appeal. In journalism, it’s known as the Lede. The sole purpose is to draw the reader into your piece of writing, making it impossible for him to stop reading.
This first one or two sentences must address the needs of the reader, and then the rest of your content delivers.
AIDA is an acronym that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action.
Strange to think no matter how advanced we like to think we are, we still use an Acronym that was first written in 1898.
But what do these four stages of marketing mean?
Awareness – potential customers first notice (aware of) a product or service. This occurs naturally through an effective content marketing campaign(s).
Content that focuses on whatever they are passionate about. The aim is to solve the problem.
Interest – the prospect’s interest grows in the product as they understand the benefits and how it relates to them. We create content in this stage to hold attention. Content that tells a story and explains the solution.
Desire – the prospect connects with the product and moves from interest to needing and desiring the product. To do this, the content must deliver trust. The more content they interact with, email, social media, blog posts, the more trust will grow.
Action – The prospect now interacts with the product through different means, buying, trialling it or joining an email list. Content delivered in this stage must include a CTA. The content must explain clearly what action they need to take.
4. Think like your audience
Keyword research, while vital to your SEO content strategy, can be challenging and time-consuming. Even allowing for the host of amazing tools that you can use.
Here’s a quick tip that allows you to get the ball rolling with keywords and content ideas for you to cover. Use the “People also ask” and “Searches related to” features that are found right within Google’s search results.
1. Based on this search query
2. Google suggests previous questions similar to this query
3. At the bottom of the page there are searches related to the original query
It’s a great starting point for keyword research and content ideas.
Readability is the ease with which a reader can understand a written text. The easier your writing is to read the more likely your audience will stick around. There are a few things to consider:
Foremost, don’t impress your reader with your incredible vocabulary. If you do, he’ll get no further than the third sentence (if that), before he clicks away. Aim for 8th grade or 13-14 years old.
The font size should ideally be between 16px and 18px. Many readers will struggle to read anything less than this size font. So make it easy for them. Don’t use extra large fonts, it will look as though you’re shouting at them.
Paragraphs and sentences
People tend to scan first. They will skim through your content before they decide whether they want to read it fully. The first paragraph is where they’ll skim to see a) if they’ve come to the right place, and b) have you anything valuable to say.
Try to use this format in your first paragraph:
- Use short sentences: five to 10 words per sentence
- Use short paragraphs: 50 words or fewer per paragraph
- A one-sentence paragraph is acceptable in writing for the Web
- One idea per paragraph for concise and clear messaging
Further paragraphs can follow closer to this structure, a maximum of 5 sentences to a paragraph, and sentences should contain between 15-20 words.
Headings and Bullet Points
As your reader scans through your page, he will note the headings and sub-headings more than anything else. So they need to make it clear what the page is about.
- Clear, descriptive keywords about the topic at the beginning of subheadings
- Use key ideas for the text that follows.
The width of the text box size should make your content easy to read. Wide text areas can cause eye strain. Aim to keep the width between 45-85 characters. If you’re not sure how, ask your web developer to put rules in place to fix the width on your blog.
6. Optimise Your Image File Sizes
Site load speed matters for on-page SEO. A slow loading site is not good in Google’s eyes, and it frustrates visitors to your site.
Large images slow websites down.
When optimising images you are reducing their file size. Which will help speed up your site.
The issue with optimising images is getting the balance right between smaller file size and not reducing the image quality too much. If you have a WordPress site, you can utilise a plugin for this.
There are also websites like Kraken Image Optimizer that have a free option for compressing image sizes.
If possible, always start compressing images by using the original version. The original image will usually be quite large. But that gives you an opportunity to crop the image before compressing it. This will also reduce the file size.
Think about your readers and the options you have to make it easy for them to digest your content. Aim to use the tips above to help with this.