There is both an art and science behind SEO content writing. You have to speak effectively to the search engines to get your content found and drive results, but you also need to speak effectively to humans to ensure your content adds value, helps with thought leadership, and improves your brand image.
How do you strike a balance between the two?
Building the SEO Foundation – What’s Important to Bots
It will be difficult to make a measurable impact and reach your digital marketing goals if you completely ignore search engine optimization (SEO). If you play friendly with the search engine bots, you can increase your chances that your website and web pages will show up in the top spots in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). This, in turn, will help you generate more traffic, more leads, and more sales.
Before you can speak to bots, though, it helps to understand what they do. Essentially, bots search your website and read the language on the pages, and tags, as well as the keywords in the code. With this data, they match keywords and phrases to search queries to help you get found. If your content has the right keywords in it, the bots might show your web page on search results when someone searches for those terms.
Bots rank websites based on:
- Keyword relevance
- Your website’s: speed
- Your website’s security
- Human behavior
It’s a good idea to incorporate all of these factors (not just keywords) in your SEO strategy to really see results. However, selecting effective keywords and optimizing your content with them is a big step towards effective SEO.
To optimize your content, add the keywords in the right places and add it enough times to get notices, without keyword stuffing.
Add the keywords to:
- Page title (H1) — this is the most influential
- H2 tags (headers)
- Meta description (doesn’t affect SEO but does influence clicks to your content)
- Copy body
- Links (incoming and outgoing)
- Graphics (alt tags, file name)
Note: Relying on plugin tools like Yoast or Elementor’s SEO tool can be a good guide to help you determine whether you’ve added keywords in the right places. However, don’t rely on these tools alone. They’re designed to look for certain attributes on the web page, but they don’t consider natural language. If you feel like it’s awkward to use your keyword in every header, for example, don’t do it. The last thing you want is for your text to be unreadable to humans to appease the bots.
The Art of Copywriting
That’s where the art of copywriting comes in.
Talking to bots is important, sure, because humans tend to only look at the top 10 search results. Talking to them will help make sure you get a top spot. But, ultimately, you have to talk to the human who will be reading your content online. This will make sure your content is informative, helpful, and valuable. It will bring in new customers as you gain trust with your audience, increase your thought leadership, and boost your brand image.
After all, bots aren’t going to be buying what you’re selling. Humans are.
When creating digital content, what does it mean to speak to humans, exactly?
Perhaps most importantly, it means not keyword stuffing. Adding the same keyword in your title, intro, headers, and body copy, over and over again, can make it difficult to read. Above all else, the language needs to be natural.
If you write for the bots and it’s awkward or uninteresting to humans, this will decrease your dwell time and sharing (which increases traffic to the page). So, effectively, you’ll be decreasing your rankings because total traffic, bounce rate, and duration all affect your SEO rankings.
Bonus: Today’s SEO is driven more and more by natural language search, marrying the art and science of SEO. This is because people are doing searches using long-tail keywords and with questions rather than just using one or two keywords. This trend has arisen from voice command based search (think Siri, Alex and Hey Google).
How Do I Know If It’s Working?
It will likely take four to six months before you know whether your SEO efforts are working or not. SEO takes time to populate, and there’s nothing you can do to populate these rankings any faster.
Once you’ve been patient for a few months, though, you can check your results by measuring your overall organic traffic source to the website. Tools like SEMRush, MOZ, and BrightEdge can also show you your website’s keyword rankings and position tracking over time.
Should I Hire an SEO Agency?
SEO can be very technical and time consuming, which is why many companies outsource to an agency. While it can be a good idea to outsource, it’s important to do your due diligence when choosing a firm.
There are some unscrupulous SEO agencies out there that will promise you #1 results in a short period of time. Unfortunately, there’s no such guarantee, so it’s a good idea to be wary of any unfounded claims. While some of these firms can find you some keywords, many do not know how to adequately apply a well-rounded SEO strategy. Others focus too heavily on keywords and ignore the technical SEO part of the equation (speed, security), which is half the battle.
When choosing an agency, make sure they can point to case studies that show how their efforts have increased SEO traffic for past clients. Ask for actual numbers — not just percentages. It’s easy to say we increased traffic by 600% when you’re only getting 50 visits per month. Taking a company from 20k to 60k visits per month is a different story.
We also recommend you ask for conversion rates on the site. Driving traffic is easy, but driving quality traffic that will then convert into leads is the ultimate goal. If you’re just driving traffic and the site is converting at under 5%, you may either not have a lead capture-optimized site or you may be driving the wrong traffic.
Need help with your SEO strategy? Request an SEO audit or book a consultation with GreenLit Marketing. We have the SEO proof points you’re looking for.