Content writing/copywriting and SEO are like peanut butter and jam. They are great taken separately but together they make a perfect symbiosis that helps your website’s visibility on search engines and achieve success.
Copywriting gives your brand an image just as much as the design does. Your content creates and builds up the context in which your business exists. Copywriting will catch your audience’s attention but the content will really show off your expertise. However, all of this, no matter the quality, will not be discoverable without the proper SEO. As the competition gets fiercer, your SEO efforts must get stronger, too. To put it simply, SEO is that little van that brings your fresh produce to the market. No van – no way to sell your fruits and vegetables, no matter how good they are.
Now, even though you will often see job ads searching for SEO Copywriters, your copywriter and content writer does not necessarily have to be search engine optimization pro. It would, however, be useful if they had some basic SEO knowledge. In that way, they could streamline your marketing process and make the job easier for your actual SEO expert, if you have one. Alternatively, will it make sure that at least some optimization is done in case you can’t afford an in-house SEO
Your copywriters and content writers don’t have to learn how to code, their writing skills are usually useful enough. But in case they do want to dip their toes in the search engine optimization, here are 10 SEO commandments for content writers and copywriters to follow:
1. NEVER DUPLICATE YOUR OWN CONTENT.
Duplicating your own content for the sake of quantity is a lazy solution that can only backfire when it comes to SEO. Of course, no good copywriter or content writer would ever allow themselves such lack of creativity but it is important to make that clear. Every article or sentence that you choose to duplicate will affect your SEO in a negative way.
Sure, sometimes content writers get the infamous “writer’s block”, they get stuck in the loop of identical topics and use up all of their ideas, but a quick brainstorming with a colleague or a fellow content writer can help. Freelancers working alone can get inspiration from other articles or look for gaps in their content by using tools like Answer The Public. Small companies may try hiring a junior content writer who will bring new ideas, while bigger companies could switch between topics inside their teams.
Something else that may cause you to unintentionally have duplicate content is site migration and various other technical bugs, malware, and hacks. So make sure you always check your content structure, old and new sitemap, learn to recognize alarming data from Google Analytics, etc.
2. NEVER BORROW OR STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S CONTENT.
‘Borrowing’ or stealing someone else’s content just so that you can have a website filled with articles is very unethical, first of all. No respectable content or copywriter would ever take someone else’s work and Google will certainly make sure that your deed is punished.
However, not all content ‘borrowing’ is intentional. Some marketers do it out of sheer lack of knowledge (especially in SEO). They may think that copying someone else’s writing is a good idea because they can’t afford to hire a content writer or they are sole entrepreneurs trying to do everything by themselves.
Rest assured that the worst possible article you can write is better than a stolen article. Each and every one of us has a unique work experience that they can share with the world and show their own expertise. If, however, you have zero talent when it comes to writing, look for professional copywriting freelancers who can write fantastic articles for you.
3. DON’T USE TOO MANY KEYWORDS.
Some content writers familiar with the concept of keywords may think that putting as many of them as possible into the article will be beneficial to the SEO. This is simply not the case.
Your goal is to write a high-quality post and choose one (maybe two) keywords that you want that page to rank for. Mention them in your title, subtitle and maybe a few more times throughout the articles. If you do the job right, the use of keywords will come naturally, no matter what you happen to write about.
You can make sure that your keywords are among the most mentioned phrases in the article by using some of the free tools like browser extension SEOQuake, that can help you count the most prominent phrases.
4. DON’T FORGET TO USE KEYWORDS.
It may sound silly to an SEO connoisseur, but don’t get lost in your creativity and storytelling and forget to use the keywords that are important for your business. Mentioning your keyword only once will not make it any more relevant than any other word in your article when it comes to SEO.
Keywords will not only steer you in a direction which way to go when it comes to appealing to your audience and your industry but they can also help you choose the exact topic, especially those long-tail ones.
Say, for example, you are in the cake business. A quick research Google AdWords will stop you from shooting in the dark and tell you what are the types of cakes people usually search for and what you should focus on. Using a long-tail keyword like “ideas for the first birthday cake” can be a great inspiration for a blog or a landing page which will attract your future customers.
Use one of the above-mentioned tools to check the prominence of your keywords and ensure that the content of your page answers the questions of your audience searching for your services and products. Do your best to include the keywords in your title and subtitle, as well as a few times throughout the article, as we mentioned before, and your job is done.
5. MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING THE RIGHT KEYWORDS.
Not every keyword related to your business is the right one. Do proper research in Google Keyword Planner or any other tool that you prefer (like Ahrefs, Moz, Ubersuggest) first. If you don’t have access to any of these tools, just following Google suggestions can sometimes be a good place to start.
The advantage of these tools is that they can help you see which keywords have high search volume, what is their competition when it comes to paid ads and are they too broad for your business.
The best you can do is avoid broad one-word keywords like ‘software’, ‘Mercedes’ or ‘food delivery’ and aim for the ones that are specific for your industry or your location like ‘e-commerce software for B2B companies’, ‘Mercedes car service’ or ‘Chinese food delivery in Manhattan’.
Sometimes going really niche with super long-tail keywords that perfectly guess users’ intent (like ‘no-bake cake ideas for a first birthday’) can be the best solution. However, you won’t know whether they work and which one is perfect for you until you test them.
6. MAKE SURE YOUR CONTENT IS UP-TO-DATE.
Having outdated content can have a negative effect on the user experience of your website because who needs an article explaining Facebook advertising in 2016? This is especially important if you are in the industry such as marketing that is evolving by the minute. You need to update your content regularly and make sure you are always a source of relevant information.
Sure, this may take too much of your time as you are eager to publish new articles but it is far better to update your old content and keep it useful than to publish a new one. Firstly, it will show that you are a constant source of relevant information. Secondly, the published page is already indexed by search engines and holds a certain value, no matter how small, which is better than a zero value of your new page.
The beauty of the updated page is that it is as good as new – it can be shared, promoted and read as a fresh post as long as there is something for your audience to learn (infographic, resources, etc).
7. AIM FOR HIGH-QUALITY CONTENT.
Don’t just write for the sake of having new content published. If you don’t think that having industry news is relevant to your audience or you simply don’t want that kind of articles on your website, dedicate the time to brainstorm and come up with an idea of really high-quality content. The more effort you put into creating your piece of writing – the more it will pay off.
Now more than ever people have plenty of resources to choose from and if your article doesn’t seem like something that brings value, they can easily find a new one that does. Follow your favourite industry blogs and try to fill the gaps and write about something that they didn’t mention yet. Even better, if you have more expertise in a certain field, write your own opinion and share it with the public. Use the abovementioned tools like Moz and Answer the Public to get new ideas and create an article that you will be proud of.
8. ALWAYS POST FRESH CONTENT ON YOUR WEBSITE.
Unfortunately, coming up with quality content does not mean you should post once in a blue moon. Don’t think that once you have explained all of your services and products your job is done. Frequent content updates give out the signal to the engines and your audience that your website is relevant, up to date and that someone is maintaining it regularly.
If you can’t constantly update your service and product pages, consider starting a blog on your website or a page displaying your Case Studies. Blogs are a great solution to have weekly updates and share your expertise, while Case Studies will portray the exact benefits of your services and products.
More often than not, these seemingly ‘irrelevant’ pages, can be the first stop for your future clients who will be drawn by your knowledge and results.
9. MAKE SURE YOU POST RELEVANT LINKS THROUGHOUT THE ARTICLE.
If you want the reader to learn something from your content, don’t forget to link to your sources and give tips for further reading. Sources give credibility to your statements and links save the time of the visitor who then won’t have to search for the tool you suggested, for example. Your relevant information will keep the visitor on your page much longer and show to search engines that your post and your website has value.
Also, interlinking to your own website can improve the overall visit and consequentially ranking of your own pages. For example, if you are writing about SEO and you have a high-quality article on that topic, a service page or a tag, you should provide a link. Be careful and make sure you link the right (key)words for that topic.
10. ALWAYS WRITE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE IN MIND
In the end, algorithms are made to satisfy the visitors’ search intent and they are improved often (much too often if SEO experts are concerned) in order to minimise the effort of the one who searches. As long as you write with your audience in mind and follow a few simple SEO rules you can’t go wrong.
We hope our 10 SEO commandments for content writers and copywriters helped you improve your website’s rankings, but if you have any more questions regarding digital marketing, you can always contact Mirror Solutions.
Ana Eraković has a long term experience in journalism, PR and content management. She currently works as a Content Manager and SEO Consultant at digital marketing agency Mirror Solutions which specializes in luxury services, real estate, and startup advertising.