8 Tips For Creating Engaging (and SEO-Friendly!) Web Copy
Writing engaging web copy that is also SEO-friendly is a daunting task... especially if you don't have the resources to hire a fulltime copywriter! These 8 simple tips will help you ensure your copy is presented in the most appealing way to both search engines and your website visitors.
Bill Gates said it right when he declared, "Content is King." There truly is no substitute for engaging, thoughtful, well-written content on your website and blog - especially considering that it is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best-practice.
While we know that well-written, engaging copy is critical to your web presence, you may not be able to hire a full-time writer or copywriter for your business, or you may be at a loss for where to begin.
The following 8 tips cover both writing and formatting tips for how to maximize the effectiveness of (and engagement with) your website copy. I'll also recommend resources and tools that I actually use on a daily basis to make it easier for you to have the copy strategy of your dreams.
1. Explore Semantic Keywords
There's been a recent shift in SEO whereby the recommendation has shifted from optimizing a piece of content or webpage around a single keyword to instead using a more semantic and topic-based approach.
Let me make that clear: it's no longer sufficient to optimize a blog post around a single keyword... Google is much smarter than that now! Google now crawls and indexes to deliver results to the searcher based on their intent, not on the exact phrasing of their query.
I spoke more about this shift in Google's intent-based indexing in this blog post.
So how do we as copywriters adapt to this? Including words that are semantically related to the core keyword/ topic is a great way to discuss your keyword at length, while avoiding the pitfalls of keyword stuffing.
Using semantically related keywords throughout your copy is a form of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). LSI refers to the process by which search engines identify related keywords and process synonyms to deliver more accurate search results.
A great tool for finding semantic keywords to use in your copy is LSIGraph, which is incredibly easy to use. I use their free version, which simply generates a list of semantically related keywords. If you upgrade, you unlock more data as to the trend, volume, CPC, and other metrics of that LSI keyword.
If for this blog post, I wanted to use the keyword 'copywriting,' I simply type that in the tool, and am given a whole list of LSI keywords. From here, I select a few of these LSI keywords that make sense in the context in which I'm writing about copywriting, and will integrate those into the body of the post.
This will ensure you're writing a post that is easily consumable for Google's crawlers, so that you can get the visibility you want. Another bonus is that your copy will sound much more natural with the use of semantic keywords, as opposed to attempting to 'naturally' repeat the one keyword numerous times throughout your copy.
If you'd like to learn more about LSI and how you can implement it into your strategy, I recommend checking out this Hubspot post.
2. Tell a Story With Your Copy
While humans have loved a good story since the beginning of time, its emphasis in digital marketing is a growing trend.
By taking the time to tell a story in your copy, you give your audience a glimpse into who your brand really is, in turn making your company more relatable. By being more candid and vulnerable with your customers and prospects, you'll humanize your brand and make it more accessible. Storytelling gives your customers a whole new perspective into the depths of your company and brand and is a powerful method of learning.
A cautionary word... keep this candid storytelling honest and respectful. While it's great to share, you'll want to ensure you're still being professional and accurately representing your brand. Ask yourself the following before sharing something personal:
Would I be comfortable with this opinion or piece of information living on the internet forever?
Does this tidbit accurately epitomize my brand?
Would I find this story inspiring if I read it?
Why am I sharing this? What do I hope to make others feel by reading this?
Asking yourself a few questions will ensure you're adding these more candid and personal stories in the right way and for the right reasons.
3. Ensure Readability
While drafting your copy, take measures to ensure that the content is as readable and digestible as possible. Why?
Google likes it - if you want a shot at a Featured Snippet or Featured Placement on the search results page, you have a way better shot if you've made your post in an easily-digestible format like a numbered or bulleted list
Think mobile - more than ever, content is being consumed mostly on mobile. Think from the perspective of your audience, who may be reading your blog post while commuting. You want to ensure these prospects can skim your content if need be and still get the key messages you want to convey
Time is money - people don't have a lot of time, especially during the work week. Deliver to this and provide content that they can read quickly, no matter how distracted or busy they may be.
So how can you ensure readability? You can use numbered or bulleted lists whenever possible to break up your ideas. However, the biggest tip I can offer is to properly use headings and sub-headings. Use an H1 header for the main title on the page, and H2 for breaking up the body text into sub-headings.
After spending a significant chunk of time crafting a beautiful, engaging piece of copy, you'll want to ensure that it is also visually appealing in terms of the page and copy layout and that the time spent on the page offers an optimal user experience.
I've come across numerous marketing blogs that have killer content, but the pages are littered with multiple pop-ups, sidebars and banners. I'll tell you now, nothing makes me close a piece of content quicker than a poorly designed webpage or a poor user experience. Limit the distractions on the page. Of course, pop-ups are a great way to boost engagement - but 1 per page is plenty.
A great method for testing how user-friendly your piece of content is, is to ask your teammates to candidly share their experience. Have them actually navigate to the webpage featuring the content. Have them describe how they feel when they read it. Is there something on the page that is distracting them from the copy?
The name of the game here is balance - having some visuals on the page is a positive for engaging web copy - images help balance out the text. Just ensure that everything is kept in moderation.
5. Write Now, Edit Later
When someone finds out I'm a professional writer, they usually ask what my best tip is for someone who struggles with writing.
This is the tip I always give: write down everything you could possibly want to say without filter or worry, then edit later.
My favourite part of the writing process (and one I'm literally employing as I write this very phrase) is to let my fingers type away as my brain pours out every ounce of what I want to say. Yes, you will get stupid and redundant phrases... but they will be amidst nuggets of gold!
The best phrases I've ever written have come from this process. Get the words on the paper, edit later. Trust me. When you let loose with your writing and stop worrying about having the perfect phrase right away, you'll really notice a difference... and might even have some fun!
6. Mobile Mindfulness
One major digital marketing trend I've been hearing quite frequently is mobile first. Many experts argue that we must think of our mobile website even before our desktop one. Why? Because up to 70% of web traffic is from a mobile device.
Properly optimizing content for mobile is absolutely essential now. Website editors make this quite easy too. I personally use (and love) Wix - their website editor makes it seamless to toggle between desktop and mobile so you can ensure your content looks great no matter where it's being read.
I've included a preview of how the Wix website editor looks when you toggle to mobile mode. As you can see, it's easy and simple to ensure your copy looks great on mobile.
You'll also want to consider website speed. Users won't go out of their way waiting for a mobile piece of content to load. Therefore, you'll also want to ensure you are making your mobile site speed (well, both to be honest) as fast as possible. This is also a strong SEO-ranking factor.
Want to try testing your website speed? Try ThinkWithGoogle.
7. Link Properly & Appropriately
Including both external and internal links throughout your copy is another best-practice for ensuring SEO-friendly content, but also to encourage further engagement.
External linking to other reputable sources tells Google a lot about the quality of your copy. It's also a best-practice to link back to other sources as a form of citation for facts, figures and other points you may take from another piece of copy. As you build a stronger web presence, and create killer content, more people will also start linking back to you. This backlinking builds up your authority as a website, and is one of the most sought-after elements of SEO that marketers strive for!
Internal linking should also be used within your copy to turn your audience to other content you have created, but also to create a strong website structure from an SEO perspective.
A cautionary note for both internal and external linking: moderation! Don't go crazy here. Otherwise, your copy will actually be less engaging - nothing throws off engagement more than seeing a piece of content riddled with links, which makes your piece appear spammy.
If you're looking to get up to speed on internal linking and why it's valuable, this GotchSEO guide is a great place to start. This comprehensive guide from Moz also goes through the ins and outs of both internal and external linking.
8. Ensure Sharability
What makes a reader decide to share a piece of your content? Value. Give something valuable in your content that delights your reader so that they want to share it with others they know in their field. How to do this? Here are a few ideas of how you can deliver value in your web copy:
Include helpful stats and figures
Create infographics or other visually appealing content that also is informative
Provide tips from your own career experience - this is what I do in every single post. Why hide what I've learned? Why not share it with others in my field so we can all continue to grow in our digital marketing knowledge?
Writing engaging copy is no easy task... It takes practice, determination and patience. That said, these 8 tips are sure to give you a boost, especially if you're without a full-time copywriter.
This blog post was originally published on Lauren's blog. Click here to view the original post.