Your goal when copywriting for your web site is to get your site to the top three pages in the SERPs (search engine results position). Any further back than the first three pages or thirty sites, and your site won’t be found because that’s where the average web site surfer stops—after just three pages of searching. And web site information seekers account for the vast majority of click-throughs on your site.
Copywriting for search engines should be part of your search engine optimization strategy, but it’s challenging to say the least. Most of us are either artistic or scientific types; few are both. But that’s what online copywriting is all about. It’s both an art and a science, and that’s what gets most people on the wrong track.
In a nutshell, good web site copy needs to be rich, keyword-specific and topic-based. Many inexperienced web developers simply use brochures for their web site copy. Don’t let them talk you into it! Search engines most likely won’t find your web site if you do.
The optimal web site page size is around 2 MS Word pages. If you have more copy than that, consider splitting it into two or more. If you find you’ve got more than one topic on a page, split it into two or more.
If you’re like me, your first instinct is to sit down and start plunking away at your keyboard and get as many of your thoughts out as quickly as possible.
And that’s fine for your basic outline, but that’s about as far as it’ll get you. That’s the artistic side. And it just might be the wrong side to start with. I’ve learned over the years that, contrary to my instinct, starting with the scientific is actually easier and faster.
So, where do you start?
The first thing I do is find the right keywords to base my copywriting on, and there’s a relatively simple way to figure out which keywords to use. Open your favorite spreadsheet program (I use MS excel), and head four columns with:
Keyword #Searched #Returned Ratio
Then, find a good keyword suggestion tool. Wordtracker has one and so does Overture, and both have free trials. There are also several others out there to use.
Tip: Keyword suggestion tools suggest more keywords and phrases for your search terms.
So, what you’re going to do is brainstorm some keywords and phrases for your product or service, enter them in the “keyword” column, and find out how often it’s searched for in your keyword suggestion tool.
Next go to a search engine and search for the phrase in quotations to find your competition for that word or phrase. And then figure out the ratio of “#searched” to “#returned”. What you’re looking for is a low number of returns for a highly searched word or phrase, or a relatively low ratio.
Tip: Keyword phrases often work better than keywords alone.
You want brainstorm a hundred or more words and phrases, and choose two to four to use in your web site copy. And as the saying goes, “two heads are better than one” so ask your family, friends and neighbors for input if you can.
Try a general keyword and start there. You’ll find a general keyword will be searched a lot, but you’ll also find there’s too much competition in most cases, so your ratio is too high. Then try different spellings, misspellings and more specific phrases. You’re looking for two to four target words or phrases per page.
For example “bodybuilding” has a ratio over 4,000, but “body building” is under 3,000. To get more specific, try targeting women. “Body building woman” has a ratio of around 500.
Once we’ve found our target phrases, we can start writing our web site content. But where do we put our targeted keywords and phrases?
Search engines look in specific places to try to determine your web site’s theme, yet they’re all slightly different as to exactly where they look and relative importance of each placing.
Nearly all search engines use page title as one of the most important, so try to make sure your page title uses at least one targeted phrase, or better yet, two. Our example title could be “Body Building Supplements – How to Build Muscle | Company Name” for example. That uses two of our target phrases and our company name. Or we could substitute the protein shake name for the company name.
Some search engines use meta tags, others do not, so I generally include meta tags for the search engines that do.
Heading tags are next in importance, ranging in importance from H1 and down. If you recall, in our last newsletter, we mentioned that headings are also high on your list for catching clients’ interest, so h1 heading tags carry lots of weight for both. One thing to watch for is cute headings, which can work for clients, but won’t work for search engines. To make the search engines happy, you need to include your keywords in your headings.
The last thing to be aware of for search engine copywriting is keyword density and placement. Again, each search engines seems to want something a little different, but you’re pretty safe if you have keywords near the beginning, middle and end of your copy. You’re looking for keyword density balance though because too many and your site is seen as spam by the search engines, while too few mean your web site theme isn’t clear enough to be found by your target audience.
So, now you have your keywords and you can start writing, right? Well, you can, but unless you keep a few points in mind, your copywriting won’t be as effective as you’d like it to be. But that’s the subject for another article.