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The 5 Pillars of Great SEO Copywriting

Photo Credit: Adikos via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

SEO copywriting. Does this conjure thoughts of a bespectacled man sitting in front of a typewriter, tapping away while smoking a pipe, his 1950’s hair slicked to the side and his face fixed in a concentrated grimace?

I’m sorry to say that’s a fantasy. It may have existed years ago, Mad Men style, but today’s (online based) copywriting looks a lot different than the old style. Let’s take a look at how much copywriting has evolved in the online world, with an SEO focus.

What is SEO Copywriting?

Modern SEO copywriting is the process of creating compelling content that people want to spread across the web by linking to or sharing it. Although it may seem simple, SEO copywriting is a complex business that allows brands to do everything from increasing their authority to attracting new customers.

In order to do this, today’s SEO copywriters wear a variety of hats – from writer to marketing expert – and employ a variety of talents to craft irresistible content.

The Five Pillars of Modern SEO Copywriting

1. Content

In the world of SEO copywriting, content is the sustentative cake and everything else just serves to make it that much more edible and delicious. To put it another way: high-quality, unique, well-written content is a good SEO’s holy grail.

Intelligent, authoritative, well-crafted content appeals to search engines, earns a site higher SEO ranking and helps a page increase its domain authority.

To create great content, good SEO’s focus on tightly written, concise, clear, keyword-focused pieces that can help a brand expand its customer base, answer client questions and cater to consumer needs.

2. Headlines

Modern day SEO’s are great at crafting tantalizing headlines and there’s good reason for this: headlines are the most important part of an article and great ones have the potential to pull readers in and keep them interested. Because of this, today’s SEO’s spend a great deal of their time writing irresistible headlines that people can’t help but click.

This involves ensuring that important keywords appear early in the title and that the headline of the article is readable to both people and search engines, which can help the page rank higher in search engine indexes and earn high-quality external links.

3. Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are one of those sneaky SEO tricks that many non-SEO’s have never heard of. Rest assured, though, that meta descriptions are not nearly as rabbit-out-of-a-hat as they may seem.

Part of an SEO’s broad job description is to craft great meta descriptions. The meta description’s purpose is to summarize the page’s content so that would-be readers can quickly decide which of the many search engine results will best suit their needs. Although meta descriptions don’t serve ranking purposes, they do serve potential readers and customers by offering a quick preview of coming attractions.

4. Links

Links are the bread and butter of SEO and a great SEO copywriter knows how to use them well. The web thrives on connectivity and, in order to rank your site well, search engines need to know that you are well connected with other high-quality pages and a variety of authoritative content. When a search engine like Google sees links to reputable pages appearing within your content, it rewards the site by boosting SEO rankings and making the site more visible to potential readers.

A large part of good SEO copywriting is learning to link well, which means including high-quality links throughout the text, attaching them to relevant anchor text and providing natural links to interior pages of the home site or other related sites.

By doing this, a great SEO can boost the authority of web content and help it appear more readily in search engine results, thus begetting more high-quality external links and perpetuating the entire gleeful circle.

5. Keywords

Keywords are a central piece of great SEO and they play an important role in ranking, optimizing and targeting content.

In order to craft high-quality pieces, SEO copywriters use keywords to build articles, blog posts, podcasts and social media posts. These keywords are naturally integrated throughout the text to make it more attractive and visible to search engines and to ensure that it shows up in relevant search engine queries.

Keywords can be spammy or natural and the way that they’re used can have a large impact on a site’s overall rank in the search engine results. Great SEO copywriters know how to use keywords to boost rankings without committing the dreaded SEO sin of keyword stuffing.

SEO Copywriting: a Modern Overlook

In today’s content-driven society, SEO copywriting is an important industry. It’s nearly impossible to sell a product, promote a service or hawk a good without boasting some well-written content and a platform from which to distribute it and SEO copywriters are the people behind that particular marketing curtain.

In addition to creating valuable content for readers, modern SEO copywriting also calls for marketing savvy, knowledge about who the customer is and what they want as well as a proficiency with a variety of social media platforms.

Modern SEO Copywriting takes a variety of forms and appears on a variety of platforms (everything from your Groupon description to the travel brochure you read on a hotel chain’s website was written by modern-day copywriters).

Regardless of where SEO copywriting may appear, though, one thing remains the same: in order to rank well and be effective, all great content needs to rely upon the five pillars of SEO copywriting: content, headlines, meta descriptions, links, and keywords.

When a copywriter’s metaphorical feet are solidly rooted in these things, great content ensues and brands benefit.

About the author

avatar

Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

25 Comments

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  • I see you didnt mention meta titles. The meta title is in fact more important than your meta description because it is the first thing that Google looks at when crawling your site.

  • Awesome article teaching us the importance of SEO Content copy and also headlines and about keywords

    must read topic for SEO experts as well as web developers
    thanks

  • Hi Julia,

    Great piece of information i would say. The above mentioned points and tips are very useful and I would surely use it in near future. Thanks for sharing such great article with us.

  • Most SEO copywriters are employed within organizations such as advertising agencies, public relations firms, company advertising departments, large stores, marketing firms, broadcasters and cable providers, newspapers, book publishers, magazines and creative agencies. SEO copywriters can also be independent contractors who do freelance writing for a variety of clients, at the clients’ offices or working from their own, or partners or employees in a specialized copywriting agency.

  • Excellent article about SEO copyriting. Personally I loved it and most importantly, everything in the article is true. Meta keywords and meta description are very important, but most important is the text of the article which attracted the visitor in the first place, and if visitors like it, then they will share with thousands of Internet users.

  • I also want to add a comment about images. It is also important to make your content interactive and alive. Studies show there are readers who prefer infographics to text based content. 🙂

  • Although there has been talk for quite some time about the importance of keywords, meta descriptions, headlines &c. this article brings together many of the important elements for beginners in the field.

  • Great article and a timely reminder to myself, not to rush out web content without thinking how it links to SEO and the potential audience/readers.

  • Content should be informative as well as attractive and unique. If it is not attractive and informative, no one will want to share it on their blog. But we should also care about which links should be ‘do follow’ and which should be ‘no follow’ if we include other links in our content. Keyword prominence and proximity are also important in content.

  • THANK YOU for this well-written article. You’d assume most bloggers would speak with a natural tone, coupled with useful nuggets and an organized, educational structure. But it’s weirdly rare. Grateful for the time you took writing this!

  • Hi Julia, good overview.
    Meta descriptions are always problematic, especially trying to explain to a regular copywriter how to craft the best fit. Here’s a tip I often give which is fairly sneaky:

    You can extend your Meta Description engineering to also include your content. This is recommended if your page is getting page 1 search impressions for more than 1 search phrase. For example, you got page 1 impressions for “cheap t-shirts” and also “custom printed t-shirts”.

    You can’t write two Meta Descriptions that both work, so instead you can leverage the fact that Google extracts page snippets that best match the search phrase. To do this, simply write a second Meta Description sized piece of text so that it fits all the elements of length and content as described on this page. Paste that text into the body copy of your page as a text feature like a callout, quote, title or body copy element. When the alternative text is searched, you will have increased the chance that a well-written Meta Description-like span is extracted and shown in Google search results.

    Repeat as many times as you feel necessary to leverage search impressions and snippet extraction, but keep in mind that your page content should stay well structured, logical and engaging for your page visitors.

    I provide a step by step process here on how to reverse engineer a Meta Description.

    Cheers

    Perry Bernard
    Cranked SEO Personal Trainer.

  • At first attempt one will see the headline of any article. If it is eye catchy and worthy then a reader will move to read that one as it happened to me with this article. Awesome stuff shared here. Looking forward to read some more content.

  • Hi Julia, good stuff ! The most important copywriting technique is writing fresh and unique content which engages your target audience. Apart from that you must also understand who exactly it is that you are writing to. It is true that keywords play an important role in ranking. It would be better SEO copywriting practice to focus on Long Tail keywords always. It may happen that the high competitive keywords have already ranked for the topic that you wrote content for. So, the content you have written may not rank. In this scenario, long tail keywords are easy to rank and convert more. They make perfect sense.

    Thank You.

  • xcellent article about SEO copyriting. Personally I loved it and most importantly, everything in the article is true. Meta keywords and meta description are very important, but most important is the text of the article which attracted the visitor in the first place, and if visitors like it, then they will share with thousands of Internet users.

  • I have a question. I am doing email marketing for my products and services but response is quite low. How can I increase the response rate in my email marketing campaigns?

  • Hi Julia, thank you for the exhaustively thorough overview! I think there’s still a lack of understanding about the difference between learning how to write SEO copy and learning how to write sales copy. It’s tough to be a copywriter in today’s world, while trying to write copy that pleases Google, as well as pleasing (and persuading) humans. SEO copy is often seen as a red-headed stepchild to sales copy. Typically I tell my copywriting students to write the sales copy first, then modify it for SEO. It’s much easier to apply SEO principles to sales copy than to apply persuasion principles to SEO copy.

  • The article was really useful, covering all the topics. I hope to write a good article like this soon. Thank you so much.