How To Write Better Copy For SEO
How do you balance copy written for SEO and keep it natural? You want to include some key phrases and words that people will use to find your company and services, but you don’t want to overload the page. Chances are if people are going to look at it and furrow their eyebrows in confusion, search bots are probably going to do the same and treat some of your content like it’s spam-y.
I mean, give the ‘bots a break. Search engines are just trying to fairly and accurately provide relevant content for users. So write well. It matters. Sites with solid content are good, but sites with solid content that was written with search engine optimization in mind are great.
I’ve tried out many ways of approaching writing for the web while working on copy for some of our website development clients and this approach is the one I like the most. And for all my examples, let’s make up a business that makes, sells, rents and repairs bikes in Atlanta. I just created it in my head. Let’s call it “Goodbicycles.” (Can you tell I’m a fan of Before & After puzzles on Wheel of Fortune?)
Get the big picture
It’s easier to approach writing copy for a website if you know what the main goals for searches are. Don’t write first and figure it out later. It’s a pain to go back through content that’s already written and try to stick in words when they could have already been there from the get go. Save yourself some time and a headache. Start with a sitemap. Know what pages you’re writing so you can let different pages do different work (see No. 5). What key phrases is the company going for? Which of those are actually searched for?
Don’t force phrases because they won’t fit! Don’t put too many because there’s only so many pieces! Play with sentence structure. As I start to construct sentences and paragraphs and finally pages, I like to pretend that several of the phases are puzzle pieces missing from the content. When the whole sentence is constructed knowing that a phrase needs to be included, you can write around it pretty naturally. “If you’re looking for reliable bicycle repair in Atlanta, give Goodbicycle a call. We’ve been in business for X# years!”
Bad: Goodbicycle has Atlanta bicycles available to suit any rental need.
Good: If you need to borrow a ride around Atlanta, bicycles are available for rent.
Maybe: In Atlanta bicycles are everywhere! (You can skip using a comma here because introductory phrases don’t require a comma if they’re short enough to live without one.)
Spread things out
Don’t put too many phrases back-to-back. I like to include a phrase every 4-5 sentences, but I never make it a hard and fast rule.
Create enough content to cover what you do. Get specific. Goodbicycle does bike repair, sales and rentals. I’d cover everything on the homepage in brief, highlighting the history of the business and why Goodbicycle is awesome. Then I’d have an overview page on bike services. A lot of people stop there, and it’s too bad for them. Write a page on bicycle rentals. Write a page on bicycle sales. Write a page on bike repair. Maybe even write a page for each type of bicycle you sell — racing, mountain, children’s. Write a page about bike accessories you sell. Which ones are staff favorites?
I am a lover of words, and being able to play with language even when I’m trying to write for a search engine optimization company, is fun. Maybe you should make that number 6. Have a little fun — just think, you’re writing for people AND for robots. That’s a little fun(ny).