It can be tricky to come up with quality copy when writing with SEO in mind. Here are some tips and tricks to help marketers create engaging and effective SEO-aware content.
Creating good SEO content is something of an unsung skill. Perhaps that's because it's a relatively new writing discipline. There's a constant call for high-quality SEO content on the Web and an ever-growing demand for accomplished writers who understand how to create effective optimized copy. In short, consistently publishing quality content that is SEO-aware in the form of case studies, blogs, etc. will help generate a growing amount of incoming organic traffic to your website.
If you've never written content for the purposes of SEO before, then there are a few things you need to consider before you begin. First, it's really not as easy as it sounds, especially when it comes to maintaining style while still making sure the content's keyword density meets requirements. Anyone who tells you it's a piece of cake is misinformed, or simply out to mislead.
We've all seen advertisements that claim that writing SEO content requires no experience, and most of us have had the misfortune to come across copy written by people who believe that. The results are risible at best. And even if the amateurish blog or substandard article does manage to pull traffic to the site, visitors' interest won't be held for long if the content is poorly written or inaccurate. This happens all the time, and it's bad news for the companies who have bought second-rate content and deservedly bad news for the companies who employ so-called writers to provide it. Neither will be in business for long.
Internet users are discerning people who are able to make decisions quickly and they'll spot shoddy work instantly. Poor-quality articles stick out like the proverbial sore thumb and drive away more customers than they could ever generate. The fact that a great deal of shoddy written work is circulating the net is something that should be viewed positively by those of you who are proficient writers. It means that more and more genuine and lucrative opportunities for you to create and sell content are opening up all the time. Similarly, companies wanting to grow their website organically by way of publishing quality content will be in a strong position.
One of the problems that writers of SEO content frequently cite is making an article read with a natural flow while still regularly including the relevant keywords in the text. In some cases it's fairly easy to feature a keyword or several of them in a manner that makes for ease of reading. A single repeated keyword might slip virtually unnoticed into the body of the text without seeming too obtrusive. However, it's very often keyword strings that give SEO writers the biggest headaches. For example, if a writer were given a keyword string like "professional ad copy writing services," the text would pretty quickly read in a labored way if that exact string kept being used over and over. The best way around this is to use the string in its entirety where appropriate and then adapt the string to avoid the work seeming repetitive. This is where the canny SEO writer gets creative.
Here is an example of appropriate straight use of a keyword string:
"The ABC-XYZ Company provides professional ad copy writing services to more than 1,000 leading businesses worldwide."
The above is fine, it reads well and it says what it needs to. However, it's easy to get it wrong and that's when content can seem stilted. If the writer repeated the string "professional ad copy writing services" too often in succession, then the work would take on an unnatural and monotonous feel. Adapting the keyword string by means of punctuation or using the words in a slightly different context are clever tricks that the more accomplished SEO writers employ.
Bearing in mind our string of keywords, "professional ad copy writing services," take a look at the following two examples of how these nifty techniques can be used:
"What if you aren't personally up to creating professional ad copy? Writing services or promotion specialists are probably your best bet."
"If you want your promotions to be professional, ad copy writing services are available."
As you can see, the same string is being used in both of the above sentences but the context in which the words are used is slightly different. Note how the punctuation puts the pauses in different places. See how the intonation has changed. Although the identical string of words features in each case, there's nothing awkward for the reader to deal with. The copy doesn't have a dull feel to it. The good news is that the search engines will still recognize the string as "professional ad copy writing services." This is because search engines aren't human, but your readers are and it is they who you need to consider when you're aiming to produce good-quality and informative SEO content.
The examples we have looked at above focus on including the keyword string in its original order. It's always a good idea to do this as much as you can without making the text boring. If possible, include the full string in the title or subheading of the work.
Next, it is useful to remind yourself that you can switch the order of the words. Again, the search engine won't discriminate with regards to sequence, so it will pick them up. The benefits of moving the words around are more to do with style. And stylish SEO content is often thought to be thin on the ground, so the writer who can produce stylish SEO content will have the advantage in the marketplace. Again, let's refer to our keyword string "professional ad copy writing services." Using the words in a different order might be achieved by writing the content like this:
"Consider the following advantages of using ad copy writing services: Professional product and fast delivery."
"Your advert needs to encourage people to use your services. Professional ad copy writing can make all the difference to your promotion campaign."
All of the above examples highlight the technique of using the keywords in the string in a solid block, no matter what order the words are in. Of course, they can be separated and treated as individual keywords. How this might be achieved is apparent from the example that follows. Once more, our keywords are "professional," "ad," "copy," "writing," and "services."
"Rather than undertake the writing of promotional or ad content themselves, many business people opt to use professional writers to create their copy. The fees payable for such services usually pay off as a high impact advert will always generate business."
There is an ongoing debate about the importance of keyword density. And it looks as if there will continue to be a division in the camps over this particular issue. The main thing to remember, as an SEO writer, is that companies like to see content that is fully garnished with their definitive words.
So, how can you calculate the density, in terms of percentage, of keywords in a given article? It's quite simple. Again, we will use the keyword string "professional ad copy writing services" as a reference point. And for the sake of argument we are going to calculate the content's word count based on the first 18 paragraphs of this article. The first 18 paragraphs of this text constitute 1,080 words. What we are looking to discover is how many times the string "professional ad copy writing services" appears. In this instance it's pretty easy to see that that specific string features seven times. To find the keyword density as a percentage, you would divide seven by 1,080. That's the number of keyword occurrences divided by the total number of words in the text. The figure you are left with is 0.648. Multiply this by 100 to reveal, as a percentage, the keyword density of that string of words. You should have arrived at 0.64 percent. Overall, given the length of the article, this would look like a poor show in terms of density of keywords. But, we now want to take into account how many times each of the keywords appears independently.
The word "professional" features 12 times, the word "ad" is mentioned 11 times, and "copy" and "writing" both appear 14 times. The word "services" shows up 11 times, just as "ad" does.
These figures, when calculated as outlined above, give each keyword the following density score:
It probably goes without saying, but it may as well be said anyway, that finding how many times a given word appears in a text is easily achieved by using the Find facility in the Edit tools in your word processing program. When doing this, make sure the Match case option is unchecked and search for Whole words only.
If you really can't face going about things in such a seemingly archaic way, then there is a plethora of keyword calculating tools available on the net. Some are supremely complex and will suit those of you who aren't in favor of using the somewhat Heath Robinson method outlined above.
After pondering the above, you might be wondering what sort of keyword density is required in a good piece of SEO content writing. Of course the perfect repost to this is, how long is a piece of string? Or even, how long is the perfect keyword string? It's impossible to say, really. And each piece you write will be different. As a provider of a professional service you are obliged to deliver what your client requests. And you'll probably be told many times over that "content is king." As a writer you will no doubt also wish to preserve your integrity by delivering quality pieces.
And finally, perhaps it's time to change the adage "Content Is King" to "Quality Content Is King."
Keyword image via Shutterstock.
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Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a leading Self-Serve Online Advertising Platform with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Washington, DC, Austin, TX, Phoenix, AZ, Santa Monca, CA and is headquartered in St Paul, MN.
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