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