Pubcon Liveblog: SEO Copywriting Style Guide — Tools & Tricks for SEO Writers
Mindy Weinstein, SEO Manager of Bruce Clay, Inc., and Lindsay Mineo, senior search strategist at ThunderActive, share tips and tools for SEO copywriting. Their lessons help writers craft content for people that’s also rich for search engines.
Mindy Weinstein: 4 Tips that Address the Human Element of Content Marketing
Whether you’re writing an article, a blog post, your home page … where do you start? You need to start with the human element.
Copywriting Tip #1: Listen to Your Audience
You have to know what your audience wants to hear from you. You need to understand them.
“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” —Ralph Nichols
How do you listen to your audience?
- Learn everything you can about your target audience
- Plan to write about topics and answer questions your audience cares about
- Content must show that you understand what your prospects or customers want and or need to hear
- Be empathetic
Close your eyes and imagine the people you’re talking to – your competitors aren’t doing that. You need to build trust and empathize above all else.
This goes beyond saying “Welcome to Our Website” – there are more than 18 million sites boasting this, and it does nothing for the visitor.
Don’t start writing until you’ve answered these questions:
- What does your audience want or need?
- What do they expect?
- How can your website help them?
Your first sentence is huge – that’s when you’re going to capture someone and get them to keep reading. And in that sentence, it needs to address why they’re there and what they need.
Listen to your audience by:
- Using Social Media. This is the closest you’ll get to reading people’s minds.
- Conducting Surveys. Obtain comments and feedback. Get insights into what they care about. Get to know them.
- Customer Service. Hear from the front lines.
- Focus Groups. Discover perceptions.
- Reach out to your existing customers.
Copywriting Tip #2: Research Your Keywords
SEO copywriting involves targeting the right keywords. Know the demographic behind the keywords. Don’t neglect the associated keywords (synonyms).
Weinstein’s keyword research tools:
- Bing Ads Intelligence
- Keyword Tool I/O
- KSP Tool
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Google Instant
Copywriting Tip #3: Create Your BluePrint
Each keyword is different. You need to understand the intent. You also need to know what the search engines are rewarding. Review the top ranked pages. Determine the normal behavior of your competitors.
Weinstein’s recommended analysis tools:
- SEOToolSet Single Page Analyzer
- Internet Marketing Ninjas On-Page Optimization Tool
- WooRank Website Review
- Microsoft Word and Excel (get organized)
- Google advanced Search (allows you to look at reading level. This functionality was added when Panda came out – that signals that reading level matters to Google. You need to make sure your content’s reading level is appropriate by looking at the reading level of the already ranking pages)
Copywriting Tip #4: Develop Magnetic Content
Stay focused on your audience and incorporate the “You” attitude – that means that when you’re communicating, keep your audience (the “you”) at the forefront of your mind. Don’t focus on yourself – be ready to answer questions, such as:
- Why should they listen?
- Why should they care?
- Why was this message even created in the first place?
Use the appropriate tone and messaging. Engage and connect. Create an editorial calendar – otherwise you’re going about things blindly.
Discover your headline’s emotional marketing value with one of Weinstein’s favorite tools: Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. Studies show that headlines with a higher EMV have more social shares.
Lindsay Mineo: Tools and Tricks for SEO Writers
Whether you’re writing for a brand or an agency you’re likely going to be reporting to someone who doesn’t understand SEO.
Relate to your audience as human beings – they’re the ones who are visiting your website and converting, not robots.
Find the topics you should be addressing with the AdWords Keyword Planner. It’s free, and helps you find new keywords. Get traffic estimates for keywords and search volume, as well.
Finding the Right Voice
Connect with your audience as people. Ask you client or brand what voice they prefer to use. They might want to be humorous. They might want to be uber professional. Find out at the start so you know what tone to wield.
- If you’re writing for a legal or medical site, still try to have personality in the writing – avoid sounding like an encyclopedia.
- If you are able to write in humorous tone, make sure not to be insensitive. Brands who use the wrong hashtag or photo or words can come under fire.
Scope Out the Competition
- Find out what you can do better. Try using Facebook Graph Search for competitor analysis.
- All of your content should have some visual aspect to it.
- Make sure to use white space.
- Fully understand the language you’re speaking in. Are you writing regional content? Make sure your terms and/or slang is appropriate for the region. This really is important if you are outsourcing your content.
- Write for the people, not the robots.
- Use Title tags and Meta Descriptions; use your keywords but don’t stuff them.
Measuring Your Results
Mineo’s list of recommended tools:
- Content Idea Generator
- Google+ Communities
- Your competitors’ social media accounts
- Majestic SEO
- Buffer’s Big List of 1879 Words that Convert
- Title Tag Planner
- Open Site Explorer
- Content Idea Generator
- Mail Chimp or Survey Monkey