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SEO, search engine optimisation: the art of getting noticed for what you do by the search engine spiders, which, in turn, can translate into higher visitor traffic and ranking for your website within engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. The copy on your site plays a key role in achieving this.
The words on your website tell the world about you and your business, so why settle for anything less than the best?
Firstly, identify your key words and phrases. This is often done in conjunction with your web developer who can advise, through research, the best and most appropriate to use for your business and services. You'll also find free online software to do this, including, Google Ad Words. As you write you must keep these in mind and use them where you can in a relevant and natural way. A good rule of thumb is a keyword density of 5 - 6% of your page copy word count. Use them within your headlines and early on in your introductory text.
High ranking websites will also have their key words and phrases within their Meta Data. This is the part of the code that sits behind your live copy and cannot be seen by site visitors. Well crafted Meta Data helps search engine spiders index your pages more accurately, so it's wise to give them all the help you can.
Engaging, readable and natural copy is your goal because ultimately people buy products, services and ideas, not search engines. You know when you are reading a good site. It's a compelling combination of the informative, persuasive, knowledgeable and relevant, always with benefits for visitors up front and infused with a sense of the ‘personality’ of the business or organisation.
Things that brains like:
- alliteration – think intelligence, impact and inspiration
- humour – a business has personality, like people, if it’s missing they come across as very dull
- short sentences – makes stuff easy to read
- good punctuation – see above
- around 250 viewable words on the page – they get bored easily
- calls to action – get to the point
Things that spiders like:
- sub headings and titles - use your key words where you can
- bold and italics – again, use of key phrases or words here helps
- reading from left to right - place key words early in your sentences
- around 250 viewable words on a page – yes, they too appear to get bored easily
Spiders also are not schooled in grammar and don't take any notice of punctuation. That is to say that full stops, commas, semi colons and the like don't bother them, their job is to pinpoint search words. This gives you a little more wiggle room when crafting your text and can help smooth out unweildy sentences. As with our home page:
"We offer experienced, freelance, high quality SEO website, promotional and feature copywriting. Based in York, North Yorkshire we..."
In this way key search words including copywriting York and copywriting North Yorkshire will be easily identified by the spiders and we haven't compromised the sense of what we're saying.
So, as you write you’re now combining all of the above? Ok, so let’s add in linking 'out' and linking 'in'. You obviously don’t want folks to leave your site through an outbound link, but links to relevant sites for further information or to show work you may have done are valuable to your visitor (remember you’re doing this for them). They help establish credibility and you are perceived as ‘helpful’. That’s good. Spiders won’t worry about outbound links unless there are lots of irrelevant ones, this will only result in you losing their interest. That’s bad.
Inbound links to your site from other relevant and high traffic sites are golden (sigh) and you’ll attract these if your site hosts excellent and useful content – hence the need for good copywriting.
Ah, good copywriting, a word to the wise here, repetitive blocks of key words fool no one, not least the spiders. More and more sophisticated spidering means that today web copy requires a natural style; ultimately search engines' spiders operate on our behalf to root out what we’re looking for: relevant, content rich and high quality sites. If they don’t deliver this we’ll choose another search engine.
If you are a good writer, work at shaping your SEO copy and messages to best effect. If not, and remember your professionalism and abilities are being judged everyday via your website, talk to me and I’ll help you shape and edit the copy you have or start from a blank page - it will repay you many times over in the long run, as you engage the human and not so human visitor alike.
This piece also appeared as part of the Big Ideas Collective series of BIG blogs
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