Writing good copy and writing good copy for the web are somewhat different disciplines. Done well, web content entertains, engages and informs – encouraging social shares, driving leads and sales, and building trust in a site. In this post, we put forward a number of tips, tricks and techniques that copywriters can use to keep their content engaging, spam-free and SEO-friendly.
The Google Panda update forced many website owners to rethink their SEO strategies. Old practices such as spun article marketing and over-stuffed and spammy web content, which were shady at best, became obsolete overnight. Today, having great web content is essential if you want your site to succeed.
1. Keywords aren’t everything
Before Google Panda, digital marketing professionals would decide on the keywords they were writing about and shoehorn a healthy heap of them into their copy. There are countless examples of these articles online, where writers don’t care about informing or educating readers – instead, they just want to use the phrase “neon widgets” 15 times and fit in a couple of references to “roadkill recipes online”. The keywords drive the message, not the other way round.
Keywords are still important post Panda, but content has come of age. Spammy, over-keyworded copy is not worth bothering with. Instead, focus on getting your message across and make keywords a secondary concern.
2. Pick a good title
Make sure that the title clearly explains what the article is about and, if possible, include a keyword or two for maximum visibility. Clever puns and obscure references have their place online, but to keep things clear, snappy and SEO-friendly, it’s best to save them for the article.
Descriptive titles get more clicks – or you could consider asking a question in your title. When people see a question, they instinctively want to answer it and if they don’t know the answer, they may click your link out of curiosity.
3. Include calls to action
Once you have attracted readers to your website, you need to turn them into regular visitors, or even better, customers. If you’re selling directly, each word should either persuade, inform or provide assurance, and calls to action can be incorporated in subtle, almost unnoticed ways. Calls to action have a place in straightforward, non-sales-driven blogs and articles too, even if it’s simply calling for people to post their own thoughts on the subject. The important thing is to get people to do more than just read and move on.
4. Use plain English
Unless you’re writing for a narrow audience of experts, you should avoid jargon whenever possible. Plain English is easier to read, and overly complex language can come across as pompous or exclusive. More to the point, people search the way people speak, so in most cases your keywords will reflect everyday language anyway.
If you need to squeeze jargonistic keywords into your copy, don’t be afraid to educate visitors and build a relationship with them at the same time. Once they know enough about the niche to decide that neon widgets are better than transparent ones, they should trust you enough to buy neon widgets from you.
5. Keep it simple
While magazine articles may run to 1,000 words or more, people read differently online. If you want readers to engage with your content, more modest lengths often work better. If you use simple, straightforward language, brevity should come naturally anyway – if you make every word matter, there shouldn’t be any need to worry about bloat.
If you do need more space to explain your points, break the article up across several pages, or turn it into a series. This will have the added benefit of increasing your repeat visitor count. If readers love content, they’ll bookmark a site and keep coming back for more, even once the series they originally engaged with is completed.