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Five SEO Copywriting Tips to Boost Rankings and Conversions

by | Nov 24, 2009 | B2B Copywriting, Online Mktg. and Copywriting, SEO Copywriting, Website Copywriting | 0 comments

Pay-per-Click is a terrific online marketing tool. But mounting a PPC campaign for a varied product line, across multiple keyword phrases, can be costly. And prospects often dismiss sponsored links as “just advertising.”

For those and other reasons, raising website rankings in organic search – through SEO copywriting techniques – can be highly beneficial and cost-effective for small and medium-size companies. Here are five important SEO copywriting tips for boosting your site’s rankings and conversions.

1. Write for two audiences

Successful search engine marketing depends on satisfying two very demanding masters: your prospects and the search engines. Write only with your prospects in mind, and the search engines bury you. Write for just the engines, and you may get high rankings, but your prospects quickly leave your site, never to return.

Luckily, there is a simple secret to writing web pages that rank high in search and also convert prospects into leads and buyers. It’s this: Create informative, benefit-laden content that appeals to the needs and desires of your targeted prospect, and include repeated instances of the actual search terms he uses to find your products and services online.

In other words, you want to sprinkle your web pages with targeted keyphrases.

Search engine algorithms have come a long way in the past 15 years. And the focus of that progress has been helping users find the exact information they’re seeking. “While there is a technical component to SEO,” says Heather Lloyd-Martin, author of Successful Search Engine Copywriting, “Search engines base their rankings on the page’s content & link analysis, not the back-end code.” SEO copywriting is largely a matter of writing engaging, informative user content in such a way that the search engines can easily index your page against your targeted keyphrases.

Search engines also pay attention to what users find relevant. “Another off the page factor is clickthrough measurement,” writes Danny Sullivan in his article How Search Engines Rank Web Pages, on “This means that a search engine may watch what results someone selects for a particular search, then eventually drop high-ranking pages that aren’t attracting clicks, while promoting lower-ranking pages that do pull in visitors. As with link analysis, systems are used to compensate for artificial links generated by eager webmasters.” The theory being that what has been relevant to users in the past will be relevant in the future.

In short, what’s good for prospects is also good for search engines. Give your target audience plenty of information to help them make an informed decision. And be sure to include the keyphrases they use to find that information online.

2. Don’t spam the search engines

Tricks don’t work. Techniques that worked in 1997 – like invisible text, doorway pages (pages dedicated to re-directing users to another page), repeating a word hundreds of times on a page, stuffing the keyword tag with every possible search term, etc. – simply won’t work today. The search engines consider these techniques “spamming” and will penalize you for it.

It’s important to remember that a search engine’s ability to generate advertising revenue depends on its popularity with users. And that popularity depends upon its ability to help users find the information they’re looking for. SE’s have spent years refining their algorithms with that goal in mind. They don’t take kindly to attempts to trick them.

Google gives specific warnings regarding techniques designed to deceive engines and users in their Webmaster Guidelines (See the section titled Quality Guidelines).

3. Don’t try to optimize for single keywords

For most businesses, trying to optimize pages for single keywords is a big waste of time.

Think about how you use search engines. Searches on single words are likely to return millions of results. And of those, the highest ranked will probably be lengthy documents where the word is used hundreds of times. To find what you’re looking for, you refine your search with additional search terms.

It’s these refined, multi-word keyphrases that you want to optimize for. Because that’s how your prospect is going to search for you.

Choosing single keywords over multi-word keyphrases is the first place where good SEO campaigns go bad. “I think that the idea that it’s really even possible to ‘optimize’ a page for a popular single word is a misconception that gets a lot of people new to search engine marketing into trouble,” says Greg Boser, President of WebGuerrilla, LLC. “In today’s world of link analysis-based algorithms, on-the-page criteria simply don’t play much of a role in ranking sites for popular, single words.”

According to Danny Sullivan, “Your target keywords should always be at least two or more words long. Usually, too many sites will be relevant for a single word. This ‘competition’ means your odds of success are lower. Don’t waste your time fighting the odds. Pick phrases of two or more words, and you’ll have a better shot at success.”

4. Start by developing a keyphrase strategy

Of course, to include your prospect’s search terms in your copy, you need to know what those search terms are. Many marketers think they know what keywords their customers are using to search for them – but once they’ve optimized for those keywords, they don’t get any traffic. To avoid this mistake, it pays to have a good strategy for researching and choosing keyphrases.

Lloyd-Martin recommends the following three-step approach:

  1. Brainstorm keyphrase ideas
  2. Keyphrase research
  3. Choose power keyphrases for each page you plan to optimize

Brainstorm keyphrase ideas

The first step is to come up with about 50 words or phrases that specifically describe your products, services or information.

Look at your existing or proposed web pages and your competitors’ websites for ideas. Go through your site’s log files and site search results to see how user’s found you and how they phrased their queries. Type some of those words and phrases into Google, Yahoo or MetaCrawler, and see what alternative search phrases they suggest. You might also want to try Google’s Adwords Selection Tool or Overture’s Search Term Suggestion Tool.

Like any brainstorming exercise, the goal here is just to generate ideas, not to analyze or reject any of them. You just want a good list of possible keyphrases to use in the next step.

Keyphrase research

Once you have your list of keyword ideas you need to do some research to find which combinations of those keywords your prospect uses to search for your products or services.

To do this, you want to use either Wordtracker ( or Keyword Discovery (

Both of these tools compile massive databases of search terms collected from the major search engines. Users can type in words or phrases and get a long list of search phrases containing those words – including common misspellings – all ranked by popularity and showing just how frequently they are used. These are subscription services, but both offer a free trial.

Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery will tell you which of your keyphrases are popular with search engine users. But your research doesn’t stop there.

Be sure to double-check each of your high-performing keyphrases against actual search results. Plug them into the search engines and make sure they turn up products or services similar to your own. Like single keywords, some high-ranking keyphrases may be relevant for too many sites. Abandon these in favor of others that are better targeted, even if less popular. At the very least, you’ll want to re-think those keyphrases and experiment with some variations on them.

Choose power keyphrases for each page you plan to optimize

The third step in your keyphrase strategy is to map your targeted keyphrases to the pages where they’ll appear. You’ll need at least three, and ideally five or six keyphrases for each page. Some keyphrases may map to more than one page.

Lloyd-Martin breaks this last step into yet another three-step process:

  1. “Consider your page content carefully. Every page on your site has a different theme, a separate purpose, and its own specific bent. The key is to custom match your keyphrases to these page themes.
  2. “Look for groups. Certain high-ranking keyphrases naturally relate to your planned site content and ‘group’ together.
  3. “Play the word game. The trick is to find a three- or four-term combo that (a) almost (or does) makes sense if you use all the words in a sentence; (b) specifically describes the page content, and (c) is a variation of strong keywords and phrases with good “count” scores (and isn’t horribly competitive).”

Your goal is to come up with a list, for each web page to be optimized, of three to six keyphrases that flow naturally with the content of the page. Finding that ‘three- or four-term combo’ that makes sense in a sentence will help the writer include those keyphrases in the most crucial locations of the page, as I will explain in a moment.

Your writer will then aim to weave those keyphrases seamlessly into the fabric of the page, as many times as possible. In most cases, he or she will only be able to truly optimize the page for two or three of the targeted keyphrases – the others won’t fit in often enough without disturbing the flow of the page – but that’s okay. You’ll still have enough strategic content for the search engines to index your page, while giving your prospects the information that will convert them into leads and customers.

5. Make sure your keywords appear in the crucial locations on your web pages.

In evaluating on-page content, search engines look primarily for frequency of occurrence to determine a page’s relevancy for targeted search terms. But certain locations are critical as well.

Your page’s HTML title tag and Meta description tag are very important. The title tag appears as your page title in search engine results pages (SERP), ‘favorites’ lists, and in the reverse bar at the bottom of the browser window when your page is displayed. With the exception of Google and a few others, search engines use the Meta description tag as the page description in the SERP. These two tags are prime real estate, both for rankings and conversions. They are intended to tell users – at a glance – what your page contains. So search engines tend to give their contents added weight.

By the way, the title tag is where that three- or four-keyphrase combo I mentioned earlier comes in handy. You only have 75 characters to work with in the title tag. A short, keyphrase-packed headline is ideal here.

On-page titles, section headings and subheadings are also important. Search engines home in on text that is formatted to draw the reader’s attention. So when crafting attention-getting titles and subheads to pull in readers, you also want to include one or more of your keyphrases, when possible, to lure the search engine spiders.

Finally, include keyphrases in and around any links you create to point to your pages. Search algorithms not only count the number of inbound links, but scrutinize link context, as well. Having your page’s targeted keyphrases appear around inbound links is likely to give a relevancy boost.

I’ll have more SEO tips for you next month. Meanwhile, if you need web content to implement an SEO strategy, I’d be happy to help. Call me at (+39) 011 659 4951, drop me an email at, or use my Contact Form.

Take-Away Points

Good search engine optimization isn’t based on coding tricks.

Good SEO copywriting is primarily a matter of writing informative, benefit-laden web content that includes an abundance of the keyphrases prospects use to find that content.

SEO success depends primarily on adopting a sound SEO strategy and good SEO copywriting.

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