Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be an overwhelming topic for web editors and content creators. With an ever-changing algorithm and a huge range of technical and content factors that can impact a website's performance on search engines, it's easy to lose track of the objective of SEO.
At its most basic, SEO is about creating content that answers your audiences' queries. It's often easier said than done, but if you know what to keep in mind, we promise you: it's doable. So, let's walk you through five steps that'll help you to write that perfectly optimised article or web page.
1. Identify your main keyword
Identifying your primary keyword is — you guessed it — key. This is the very first thing you should do, before you even start writing. There are mainly two things you need to keep in mind to do this: a) the subject you're writing about and b) keyword intent. And remember, your keyword can be more than one word.
The first one probably comes quite naturally to any copywriter, as it's simply about knowing what's the focus of your text. For instance, the topic for this article is SEO copywriting, so this would be the keyword I'd consider targeting. Before I decide on this keyword, however, I want to think about keyword intent. This also takes into consideration the intention behind a search. Why is this important? Well, because Google's mission is to surface content that best answers user queries and will therefore reward content that accurately does so.
As an example, the intention for searching "SEO copywriting" could be a) to find out more information about what it is or b) to find a copywriter who can help to write an article that's SEO optimised. In my case, I'd want to attract traffic from people whose intention is to find information. To match this keyword intent, I'd consider amending my keyword to "SEO copywriting tips". For a service page on a website, on the other hand, such a keyword wouldn't be rewarded, since it doesn't match the keyword intent. In other words: know your target audience, and get into their head!
2. Identify your secondary keywords (they're just as important!)
Whilst your primary keyword is important, it's not the only keyword you can target in your text. In fact, you should always aim to target several supporting keywords, so that your content can rank for these as well. In this way, you'll be able to reach a wider audience and get your message across to even more people. The process for identifying secondary keywords will be more or less the same, with two exceptions: a) as the name implies, your secondary keywords should highlight information of slightly less importance and b) you can use less brain power to identify them. How?
By checking Google's "related searches" section, which you can see when scrolling down to the bottom of the google search page. To illustrate, when I search for "SEO copywriting", I get this view of related searches:
Of course, not all related searches will be relevant to your text and keyword intent — for instance, "SEO copywriting course" has no relevance for this article — but hopefully, it'll give you some ideas if you're stuck.
3. Weave your keywords in — but do it in the right way
This is an important one. First of all, whilst keywords play a fundamental part in SEO, it's important to not overdo it. Not only because you can't trick the algorithm — content that forces in the same keyword over and over is probably more likely to get demoted than rewarded in the ranking (let's call it instant karma) — but also because it ruins the text. We're taught grammar and basic writing rules for a reason, and if you want your content to be taken seriously, it's a good idea to not position yourself as a clickbait writer. In other words: weave your keywords in, but do so in a way that sounds natural.
Having established that, it is worth mentioning that adding your keywords early on in your text, in the heading and intro, is likely to give you plus points by the algorithm. Again, Google's mission is to surface relevant content, so the sooner you prove the relevance of your content, the better.
4. Craft a concise meta title and description
Did you ever spend hours writing an article or a web page, but then just copied the page title and pasted as both the meta title and meta description because you couldn't be bothered to come up with anything better? We've probably all done it. But whilst meta data might not be as "fun" to write as the page itself, it's of great importance. At least if you want to optimise your text for search engines.
The first thing you should know is that meta titles that are longer than 50-60 characters are cut off by Google. This means that if your article has a longer heading, you should craft an alternative meta title instead of using your article heading. Luckily, you can give some more details in the meta description, i.e., the text that appears below the meta title.
The meta description is important for mainly two reasons: a) it impacts how relevant Google deems your content to be and b) it impacts how relevant a user deems your content to be. In other words, just like the article or web page itself, your meta description should target at least your main keyword. It should also be concise, as Google will cut off any descriptions that are too lengthy. A good rule of thumb is to keep it to a maximum of 160 characters!
One final — and slightly frustrating — thing you should know about meta data: if Google doesn't consider your meta title and description to be good enough, Google won't include them. Fun, right? All the more reason to put some effort into crafting meta data that's really on-point!
Last but not least: aim to add hyperlinks to different but somehow related pages, preferably within your own website. The links should be as descriptive, yet concise, as possible. Why? Because Google uses the keywords in link texts to decide the topic and relevance of your page. Optimised link text contains the same keyword(s) as that of the page it links to. So for example, if I wanted to link to the article in the screenshot above, a good link text would be: