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SEO in 2019: The Copywriter’s Complete Checklist

The art and science of SEO are constantly evolving, and with them, SEO copywriting best practices.

Before you hit publish, have a quick run through our checklist to give your content the best chance at climbing those Google rankings.

You know what they say; new year, new SEO.

This year Google put the nail in the coffin of a few poor site practices for SEO: 

Poor Site Security.
Slow mobile page speeds.

Thanks, Google.

With so much changing so frequently, it can feel impossible to stay on top of how to write perfectly optimized content.

Fear not.

We’ve put together the ultimate SEO copywriting checklist for this year (for now).


What’s your writing’s ‘readability’ factor?

Content is first and foremost for people.

People want well-written content that’s not boring or stuffed with obvious keywords.

Metrics that signal good UX and readability such as Dwell Time and organic CTR (Click Through Rate) are key in determining what Google praises—and what it devalues.

Simply put, if Google sees that people are spending a lot of time on your page, it deems your content ‘good’ and upranks you.

While you can’t see your behavioural metrics before publishing your article, you can look into analytics to see what other articles and post formats get good engagement.

Write freely, write like a human first and optimize later.

Would be worth mentioning the Flesch–Kincaid readability test here and how its principles relate to writing for both users and search engines.

Text Structure

Is your writing well structured?

The structure of your text is vital for SEO copywriting.

In fact, composition and structure is pretty much a ranking factor all on its own.

Posts and pages with a clear structure equal higher engagement on your site, which equal better search engine rankings.

Establish a logical, engaging structure for your text (like a checklist) before you starting writing—and stick to it.

Keywords and Proof Terms

Are you using them wisely?

The first step of SEO copywriting is your keyword research.

Once you’ve decided what you want to write about, you need to find the keywords that you want to rank for. This helps to ensure you’re targeting an area that drives a good amount of search volume but also informs you about the specific language that searchers are using most frequently.

Proof terms are equally, some argue more, important that keywords in 2019.

They’re words or phrases that are commonly used when discussing your topic. They are more nuanced than keywords but are just as vital.

Why? They prove to Google that you are thoroughly covering your topic. Similarly to keywords, it is essential to use relevant proof terms to get higher rankings for your chosen keywords.

How do I find the right ones?

Keyword search is an article top on its own. But a good place to start is here or here.

Use them strategically, not just more frequently. Consider placing them in:

  • Headlines
  • Sub-headings
  • Lists
  • Links between pages/blog posts
  • Links back to your website
  • Title and description tags
  • Alternative text and image tags

Note: Understanding keyword distribution is key. A few strategically positioned keywords do more good than a whole page of copy saturated in obvious keywords. Remember, readability ranks.

Long-tail keywords

Are you recruiting long-tails?

Don’t come up short on long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are phrases three to four words long that are super specific to what you are writing about e.g. SEO copywriting best practices.

Why are they important?

Because they are how people actually search.

You might need to spend some extra time digging up long-tail treasure on your keyword search, but it’s worth it.

Tip: get Google to do your long-tail research for you by starting to type a query into the search bar and watching it autocomplete with frequently searched phrases that start in a similar way. The bottom of a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) contains related searches as well.

Find them. Use them. Thank us later.


How easily can you scan your content?

Regardless of how great your writing is, most readers won’t read the whole thing. Don’t be offended! It’s just the way most people read online content.

Consider using:

  • Bullet points and lists
  • ‘Summary’ sections
  • Frequent subheadings
  • Variations in type (size and style)
  • Shorter sentences/paragraphs

To my previous point, a very scannable article that utilises these features appropriately is often well structured, too.

Heading tags

Are your headlines pulling their weight?

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” — David Ogilvy

Treat your H1 headline tag like a strategic headline.

Include keywords in the H1 heading so that search engines consider this tag to be an important signal of relevance and craft them in a way that hooks the reader and compels them to click to investigate.

Clickbait works for a reason.

Use other heading tags  to:

  • Map out your text structure
  • Break up big blocks of copy
  • Guide your reader from start to finish
  • Improve scannability  


Are you formatting your work to get featured?

Snippets are the most sought-after real estate on Google.

Featured Snippets are those lists or paragraphs featured above the top ranking links within Google.

If your work is featured as a Snippet, you have made it to the top. Literally.

There are many forms of ‘Snippet bait’ that you can create:

  • Paragraph snippets (40-60 words)
  • List snippets
  • Table snippets

Unfortunately, if you’re page doesn’t rank in the top 10, you’ve got no chance at getting featured. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying or getting into the habit of optimizing your writing for SEO success.

It doesn’t have to be a highly technical process, but doing a few technical things can help you earn Snippets.

Quality and quantity

Is your writing delivering both?

Contrary to what you might think, when it comes to SEO, longer posts perform best.

Why? People want quality, one-stop-shop stuff.

Google is increasingly favouring long-form, in-depth quality content. The top-ranking results aren’t keyword-stuffed pages. They’re pages that cover entire topics in great detail.

Longer posts also attract more backlinks than shorter ones, which will increase page authority and rankings position. For bonus points, comprehensive posts can also position your work as authoritative and you, a thought leader.

So, what’s the word count?
1500 is good. 2000 is better.|

Warning: Content for content’s sake is not rewarded (or ranked) by Google. Quality is, and always will be, key.

Optimize for Google’s Mobile-First Index

Are you thinking mobile first?

60% of Google searches are from a mobile device.

If you aren’t formatting your writing accordingly, Google ain’t rewarding you. Simple as that.

To optimize your work for mobile first:

  • Create content that is consistent across desktop and mobile
  • Move From m. to Responsive Design
  • Make sure your content reads well and functions on mobile

Optimize for Voice Search

Does it sound as good as it reads?

As voice search becomes more ubiquitous, readability of copy becomes more important.

Our devices are already starting to favour information that is easy to read and easily understood.

See where we’re going with this one?

Readability, Readability, Readability!

No matter what new technology comes next, text should be always be clear.

Title Tags

Are they written correctly?

Title tags are an important, yet often overlooked, part of search engine optimization.

Get them right and they’re a low-effort, high-impact SEO task. To optimize your title tags:

  • Keep the length under 60 characters
  • Don’t overdo it with keywords
  • Put important keywords first
  • Write for your customers (always)

Meta description

Are they click-worthy?

The more descriptive, attractive and relevant your Meta description, the more clicks you get.

In addition to making sure it’s readable, the description must match the content on the page, and be as appealing as possible in no more than 135–160 characters long.

Check for stuffing

Did you overstuff?

Comb over your writing to check for unintentional keyword stuffing.

For example, if readability was one of our targeted keywords, we’d be in trouble.


Have you encouraged comments on your page?

The comments section on your blog or article can boost your rankings. Significantly.

Google wants to see pages that foster active communities and drives traffic.

In some instances, a comment section can often be more valuable than the content itself.


Did we miss anything on the checklist?

Comment below to let us know (and help us boost our ranking)! 


Meet Camille


If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Tiramisu! The best dessert ever created.

Where do you think your doppelgänger lives?

I have heard some people saying that they’ve found their Doppelgänger and according to a few (dubious) studies, our sister or brother from another mother is only 2700km apart from you. That would mine is somewhere in Australia or New Zealand!

What’s the biggest difference between Circul8 and your previous job?

There is a ping pong table at Circul8! Oh, and I started my first week with a Christmas Party on my first Friday—lucky me!

Dinner with one person, dead or alive?

Steve Jobs. The smartest of all.

What has been your favourite digital campaign?

Redbull and Felix Baumgartner. They partnered together to set the world record for the highest skydive. A 128,000 feet (about 39 kilometres) free dive! The event was live on Youtube and pulled the highest viewing traffic (8 million viewers) recorded. Suspense and records were the winning ingredients for this unique campaign.

What is the best way to get over Mondays?

Just think about next Friday’s drinks, the next surf session on Saturday and your motorbike ride of Sunday. Whatever your hobbies are, just think about them :)

Do aliens exist?

Of course. You’re talking to one!


Meet Max

Image from iOS (1) Cropped

If you could pick your own name, what would it be and why?

To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing about my name–Maximillian Nicoli Adagio. As refined of a name as it might sound like, it’s origins come from a drunken night my father had in college, where he vowed to name one of his children Maximillian. Years later, here I am.

Tell us a little about yourself without using verbs.

American; practical; very relaxed; curious about everything; a bit of yoga; a sprinkle of adventure; outdoor life.

What was your first impression of Circul8?

It was from a conversation with Alex, Head of Strategy at Circul8, a few years ago at a Christmas party. It was very merry, slightly red-faced, and smelled a bit of sherry.

What’s the one charity you would work for and why?

There are quite a few charities that I have worked for in a client/vendor capacity for marketing, and there are many more that I’d love to devote my talents to! Gun to my head, I’d love to work for The Ocean Cleanup Project.

What’s the one thing you would change about our industry?

If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it and get rid of all the dodgy marketers. There are a lot of sharks out there, and I have never had a client that hasn’t been bitten at least once.

As a suit, what do you look for most in a creative?

Business acumen. Understanding a business is a prerequisite to creative marketing: what is their brand? How do they make money? Who are they talking to? Moving without effectively understanding how a business and how its greater industry works is scheduling a crash.

What Guinness World Record would you attempt to make or break?

Every day I’m trying to hold my breath longer, so don’t worry if you see me turning blue on the bus. But the static, non-o2 assisted breath hold record is 11 minutes 35 seconds, and I’ll be honest–I’m not very close.


Perfecting ‘the Post‘

If you’ve been keeping up with Part 1 and Part 2, you now know how to create the perfect social post.

But don’t start posting just yet. There’s one last element you need to master before you can start building that influencer empire of yours.

Part 3: Your feed

Not paying attention to your feed is like buying the best artisanal ingredients for a sandwich and then skimping on the bread. Your feed is what holds it all together and if done right, is where your brand becomes greater than the sum of your posts.

These are our 7 must-follow tips for producing a perfect social feed.

1. One for all and all for one

Your posts work best when they work together.

This doesn’t mean that you’re posts can’t be flashy—far from it. It just means that whichever style/vibe/theme you pick, they all need to complement (not compete) with each other. Do this, and your ‘visual’ voice will ring out loud and true. This can be achieved by committing to:

☐ A grid layout

☐ A theme/vibe/visual personality

☐ What you want to talk about and share

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.29.58 pm

2. Get the most bang for your bucket

When it comes to your content buckets, pick a few. Stick to a few.

Content buckets are the defined topics that determine the types of posts your audience would love to see. A common trap many people fall into is adopting too many buckets. They think that the more you talk about, the more people you’ll connect with.

This might work on Tinder, but when it comes to posting, when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.30.50 pm

3. Give your feed some flow

A little rearranging goes a long way.

If you’ve just taken a killer photo but it doesn’t fit your grid style, mix things up so it does.

It might take extra time but it’s worth it to keep your feed looking curated.

What you’re looking for is balance. That means spacing your posts out based on their colour, their negative space and their subject matter.

To give you a hand, there are great apps such as Preview that allow you to rearrange and order your posts and see what your feed looks like before you post.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.31.47 pm

4. Apply the ‘apply all’ approach

Conformity is seldom good for creativity, except when it comes to your social post images.

We’ve already mentioned it above, but once you pick something, stick with it. This means using the same:



Editing style

Sense of humour

Sense of style

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.32.57 pm

5. Stay active

Keep your feed well fed.

A feed that is consistently being contributed to and updated is what followers want to see and follow. You might have the most beautiful social feed, but if it hasn’t been updated regularly, it won’t be visited regularly—people will unfollow.

If you are serious about growing your brand through your feed, commit to a number of posts a day/week and when you’ll post them, and work towards being consistent as clockwork.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.34.44 pm

6. Be selective, even ruthless

Sometimes you gotta kill your darlings.

There’ll be many times when you have an amazing moment you to want to share (online), but no matter how you edit it or try to justify its reason for being included, it just doesn’t fit with in your feed.

There are obviously exceptions to the rule, however, for the greater good, sometimes you’ll just have to close your app, put your phone down and walk away.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.35.40 pm

7. Make a plan

Creating a content schedule isn’t just something big brands and influencers do.

Consider how a content calendar can make the process much easier by:

Giving you time to prepare and fine-tune posts on multiple platforms

Automating your posts for maximum engagement

Allowing you to see the big picture and ensure your feed has just the right mix

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 12.37.19 pm



Meet Kirsten

Tell us bit about yourself using only emoticons.

What is your very first impression of Circul8 (good or bad)?
Co-ed washrooms.

If you could ‘Freaky Friday’ with one influencer, who would it be?
@chelseakauai or @chrisburkard – both are constant travellers with a wider message.

What were you doing before we found each other?
Living and working in Melbourne! Made the move to sunny Sydney and haven’t looked back since.

Most embarrassing agency experience?
Ask me again at Friday drinks.

What is your spirit animal?
Small black house cat – who sometimes thinks it’s a panther.

Most embarrassing work experience?
Ask me again at Friday drinks.

What is the one thing you would change about our industry?
The median salary… 😅

What was the first job you ever had?
Delivering poinsettias for my dad’s friend to his clients (he had a lot) for Christmas. In the snow. In Canada.

Dinner with one person, dead or alive?
Christoph Waltz – I find him fascinating and think he’d be a great dinner guest! Runner-up: the entire GOT’s cast.

Who’s your hero?
Doctors/nurses who go into war zones… or anyone really who contributes to making the world a better (instead of worse) place.

What is the one book or movie you would bring if you were stuck on a deserted island?
This is hard! Single book: Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss. Book series: Harry Potter. Show: Game of Thrones. Movie: LoTR.

Describe your current job in 5 words.
Creative, social, fun, challenging, unique.

Describe your dream job in 5 words.
Paid (a lot) to travel 😛.

Favourite example of social creativity?
Pokemon Go. It was so immersive – on a global scale – and to see so many people outside catching Pokemon was 1) a nostalgic treat 2) such a cool way of using digital to get people outside and communicating with one another. I thought it was the perfect blend of digital/real world applications.

Sock-sock-shoe-shoe or sock-shoe-sock-shoe?
Sock-sock-shoe-shoe – can’t even imagine doing it the other way 🤔.


Meet Corey

Describe yourself in 10 words?
I’m a manga reading, table tennis playing, emotionally obvious nerd.

Now in three words.
White male guilt.

What emoji best describes you?

Hobbies outside of building web banners?
Building web banners.

Most embarrassing agency experience?
I was ’White Shoe Man’, a man-sized white boat shoe mascot for an A-League derby match between Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast United.

What were you doing before Circul8 and why didn’t we find you sooner?
I spent most of my life in Queensland with a good chunk at Brisbane agency, Junior; creating successful campaigns across a number of government and commercial clients. I arrived in Sydney a few years ago for a change of scenery and have spent most of my time freelancing for agencies like Grey, Host, We Are Social and Isobar to name a few.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?
That creative problem-solving is valuable to any industry.

What would you change about your job if you could?
The gender pay gap.

Why Circul8?
It’s not often you find an agency that shares many of the same interests and motivations (and has a spot for you).

What gets you up in the morning?
An orange mocha frappuccino.

Favourite example of digital advertising?
Geico’s ‘Unskippable’ campaign from 2015 is dead simple.

Example of digital that makes you cringe?
‘Cracked Chiropractic Commercial’ from 2013 by Rhett & Link (though technically it’s supposed to make you cringe).

Dinner with one person, dead or alive?
President Trump.

Any tips for aspiring creatives?
Pick your battles, feedback is your friend, rationalise everything.

Lastly, will robots take over the world?
Almost definitely.


What is influencer marketing?

You’ve worked with agencies from over time and heard the term “influencer marketing” dropped in a meeting or presentation (and thought – “huh?”). Perhaps you’ve come across stories about them in the media. Either way, it’s perfectly understandable to be asking, what is an influencer anyway and why are agencies like Circul8 so often talking about them?

So what is an influencer?

An influencer is an established social media user who in most cases will have a large following of other users who will fall within your target demographic. Engaging an influencer is to leverage their popularity in their sharing your brand or product, and to leverage on the trust of a peer review.

Are they effective?

“Peer-reviewed” is no longer an idea that’s exclusive to academia – it’s now a part of the consumer every day. Today, as consumers, we give ratings to those who quite literally drive the “gig” economy (ride-sharing, room sharing, and food delivery dominate) and receive ratings in-kind. As apps have changed over time, we have changed with them. We now place a higher value than ever on how others rate their experience with a brand.

Consumers trust ratings and reviews shared online more than traditional forms of advertising. This is especially true with younger audiences for whom digital advertising comes as second nature. We have come to trust what we say to each other beyond what a brand says about itself – this is where influencers come in.

What are the outcomes?

Like an endorsement, an influencer can be paid (or offered product) to share their positive thoughts or information about a brand. Unlike the traditional celebrity endorsement, however, the key offering of an influencer is their authenticity. The influencer is not a celebrity as such – while Beyonce may have millions of followers, influencers may only have thousands. Influencers are seen as down-to-earth members of a community whose enthusiasm for a product or service is sincere and aligned with their values. Authenticity is the unique selling point of the influencer.

For younger demographics (ages 36 and under), the incentives for engaging influencers can be profound. To make the most of a paid engagement you’ll want your target demographic to be invested in social media: they use Instagram and Facebook throughout the day and are likely to engage friends and family while active. This style of brand advocacy makes influencer marketing a close relative to “seed” marketing, or word-of-mouth marketing as it is commonly known.

How do they work?

There are many ways influencers can help businesses endorse their brand and they do not have to be as simple as putting a face to a product. Over the last decade, Circul8 has specialised in combining great ideas with tactical execution and people power. Our projects for Tourism Fiji and Japan National Tourism (JNTO) which both took influencer marketing to a new level, are great examples.

Tourism Fiji – #fijinow

In 2016 Fiji was tragically hit by the biggest storm in the country’s history, Cyclone Winston. In the weeks that followed, an influx of negative media coverage showed the worst of the damage and the impacts on Fiji’s tourism were immediately devastating. Given tourism is the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner this came as a second wave of devastation. To tackle this problem our client Tourism Fiji approached us to help restore visitor arrivals to their original numbers as quickly as possible.

To make an immediate impact,  Circul8 recruited a small group of influencers – Instagrammers with a collective global following of over 1.3 million – with the brief to launch the #Fijinow hashtag. To demonstrate that the Fiji was still open for business, this was the most authentic way to show that not all of Fiji had been affected by the storm.

Along with the spread of the influencers’ Instagram followings, Circul8 implemented our bespoke product Aggreg8 to the Tourism Fiji website which aggregates all posts tagged with the #FijiNow hashtag. The two activities combined had outstanding results: the hashtag has continued to gain traction long past the duration of this campaign, clocking up over 39,000 posts becoming a valuable stand alone marketing asset for Fiji.

Taveuni Island - Fiji by jewelszee

Campaign outcomes

  • The #FijiNow campaign restored consumer confidence in Fiji as a holiday destination
  • Fiji visitor arrivals achieved record levels in 2016 with a 5% increase.
  • Peak visitor arrivals were achieved as early as July, just 4 months after Winston
  • Video content received over 627,000 views
  • 1.16 million engagements on social media
  • 25 million campaign impressions
  • Tourism Fiji social channels grew by 19,330
  • 39,000+ uses of the #FijiNow hashtag
  • Circul8 also won a Communicator Award of Distinction for Marketing Effectiveness – Content Marketing for this campaign.

Japan National Tourism (JNTO)

In January 2017, Circul8 launched a Content Marketing Campaign for JNTO aimed at increasing destination awareness and inbound visitors from Australia to regional Japan. The campaign featured strong emotive content and a strategic approach to drive traffic to the website and increase engagement on social media.

To give these areas coverage, we sent influencers to Hokkaido, Kyushu, Setouchi and Tohoku, and built a bespoke website named Unseen Japan, where an interactive map of Japan displayed influencer content. By clicking on each content piece, it led back to the Instagram post / channel it came from.

Users were invited to create their Unseen Japan bucket list by adding ‘Add to #myunseenjapan’ on our influencers campaign posts. This engagement also entered them into a competition to win 2  return flights to Japan with our campaign partner Japan Airlines (JAL).

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Hotspring taken by tysontravel

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Hotspring taken by tysontravel

Campaign outcomes

  • Campaign impressions: 17,696,551
  • Unique visitors to the site: 70,740
  • Increase Instagram fans: 116% (+20,850)
  • Increase in Facebook fans: 17.5% (+16,500)
  • 9,100 entries generating 28,632 comments
  • Average session duration on the website increased by 26.6%.. People spent on average 6 minutes looking through the content

Is influencer marketing right for my brand?

Over and above the short-term results, influencer marketing is most effective in its building of relationships between brand and consumer. In considering influencer marketing as an option, it’s important to get your agency to propose an effective strategy for your brand’s objectives and do the necessary due diligence on the chosen influencers.

Looking to discuss influencer marketing as an option? Get in touch with us.


Expand My World launches with Travel Photography course by Richard I’Anson

Be one of the first to gain exclusive access to Richard I’Anson’s first online course. 

Expand My World is an online learning portal that connects users directly to the minds of those at the absolute pinnacle of their craft. Students learn from world class professionals, visionaries and masters of their field.

The site officially launches this week, kicking off with a 21 session course on Travel Photography taught by Canon Master, Richard I’Anson. Richard is the author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography, was one of five photographers to be featured in the award winning series Tales by Light, originally broadcast on National Geographic TV and now screening globally on Netflix and will also be broadcast on Channel 10 on Sunday. Richard has also published 13 books in association with Lonely Planet.

The Travel Photography course is for enthusiast photographers, people who want to get better images from their camera and also people interested in a career in travel photography. Richard will open the vault on all he has learnt during his highly successful career which spans more than 35 years. This is an opportunity for students to experience his journey from one photograph to the next, learn his philosophies and gain valuable insights into exactly how he works his craft. Richard’s course is available now for USD$259 at

Each class will include 4-5 hours of video lessons broken down into 20 easy to follow sessions, interactive assignments and access to a community where you can get valuable feedback from experts and also key insights from the masters themselves. The learning materials are available ‘on-demand’ meaning students can log on from anywhere and learn at their own pace.

Expand My World is the brainchild of Alana Stocks, founder of award-winning digital agency, Circul8. Alana says of the new business venture, “Education is evolving and people crave inspiring and quality resources that they can access from anywhere. Expand My World gives all students no matter where they are in the world the opportunity to learn from world-class visionaries who are living the life they want to lead in careers they’re passionate about.

“To launch Expand My World with Richard I’Anson as our first mentor is extremely exciting and it paves the way for what’s to come from the platform.”

Richard says of his involvement “To be able to share my knowledge, experience and favourite images with people all over the world who are keen to improve their own photography through my online course is extremely rewarding, I really do enjoy helping people become better photographers.”

Travel Photography is just the first cab off the rank for Expand My World, with many other insightful and exceptional mentors and courses to come. Watch this space as the platform continues to grow, inviting people to ignite their passions and learn from world class professionals from the comfort of their own homes, on their own schedules.

Enrolments are now open for Richard’s course for USD$259 at 

Expand My World is offering a 40% discount off Richard’s Travel Photography course until 21 August 2018. Enrolments must be made via the Expand My World website and using the promo code LAUNCH40 at checkout.