5 Easy-to-Give SEO Gifts that will Make You A Better Writer in 2014

You'll actually want to keep your SEO giftsYou’ve got a bunch of names on your gift list this year, but your name probably isn’t one of them. After all, we’ve been taught it’s better to give than receive. But what if you could do both? By giving yourself these 5 simple SEO gifts, you’ll also receive the boost you need to take your writing to a new level as we bid goodbye to 2013.

SEO Gift #1: Learn More About Your Industry

Some of us spend our careers writing for a single industry, while other SEO copywriters work across multiple industries on a daily basis. Either way, you need to know every detail you can about what your audience knows and what they expect. Learn the jargon, who the industry leaders are, unusual ways products or services are used and any other insider info you can get ahold of. This will make it easier to find low-competition keywords (especially long tail) that others may have neglected. It will also help you write more comfortably and honestly, and that’s something your human audience will appreciate.

SEO Gift #2: Tune up Your Basic Copywriting Skills

Just like practicing fundamentals is important in sports, focusing on copywriting basics can do wonders for your SEO writing. Search engine spiders aren’t very particular (yet) about well-written content. Your flesh-and-blood audience is. Write copy that is interesting and uses sentence structure (shorter is almost always better) and vocabulary that engages your readers. Keep paragraph structure and page layout in mind. Most people don’t really read online; they scan. Do them and yourself a favor by employing headlines, sub-heads, callouts, and paragraph breaks. And finally, always include a call to action. This is something we all learn in Copywriting 101, but many of us forget down the road. Help your site visitors by telling them exactly what you want them to do next. They’ll thank you with their dollars.

SEO Gift #3: Broaden Your View of Keywords

When it comes to keywords, many of us write with blinders on. We identify a few keywords we want to use and write without looking around. This gets the job done but causes us to miss semantic search cues, long-tail keyphrases, and partial matches that we should be picking up. The next time you identify primary keywords for a project, take a few extra minutes to look at related terms, synonyms and suggestions in your keyword tool. Make a secondary list of single words to be sprinkled into your copy as they fit. These words can help avoid keyword repetition, make your copy easier to read and help you pick up incremental onesie-twosie search traffic you aren’t specifically optimizing for.

SEO Gift #4: Trim the Fat

Raise your hand if you’ve ever written filler copy just to use a keyword a couple more times on a page. (Author sheepishly raises his hand.) It’s a crutch we’ve all used when writing for the spiders – and it can work well. Unfortunately, it’s a huge turn-off for your human readers. If you bring visitors to your site only to drive them away with long, boring or repetitive copy, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. The next time you face the decision to fill or not, don’t do it. Only write additional copy if it is engaging and helpful to your human readers.

SEO Gift #5: Do Something for Yourself

Question: What is an SEO Copywriter without an optimized Web presence? Answer: Hard to find. Make it easy for prospective employers or clients to find you by creating and optimizing a website that’s all about you and your writing. If your name is fairly unique, buy that as a domain and set up shop there. If you have a common name or suffer the great online misfortune of sharing your name with a celebrity, you’ll need to take a different approach. Add location-based keywords to start and build your individuality from there. For example, I might go with something New Hampshire related, like www.nhseocopywriter.com or just www.nhseo.com. Whatever you choose, be sure to optimize it just like you would a client’s site, and make yourself easier to find.

There you have it – 5 simple SEO gifts you can give yourself this holiday season. Best of all, you don’t have to wrap any of them.

What other SEO gifts do you recommend?

About the Author

Richard Hostler writes engaging copy that generates sales. He is currently the SEO Copy Manager at Brookstone, where he connects online customers with the best gadgets and gifts. When he’s not writing, Richard can be found training for and racing triathlons around New England. You can follow him through his websiteLinkedIn or twitter.


Photo thanks to waferboard (Tacky Gift Exchange-101219-03)


16 replies
  1. Richard Hostler says:

    I agree, Elizabeth. The more knowledgeable and comfortable you are as a writer, the more engaging your content is going to be for your readers.

  2. Nate says:

    Nice reminder of the power of keeping your copy simple, specific and targeted. It’s easy to get carried away but I find one of the best ways to write better copy is to put yourself in your target markets shoes. What do they want to hear? What do they care about? It’s not about you, it’s about them! Thanks Richard.

  3. craig wright says:

    Speaking with my tech writer hat on for a moment:

    There is a line that can be crossed when you are a niche writer – becoming too expert. If you become too knowledgeable in a subject you can easily lose sight of your target audience and leave them baffled. This is especially true with more technical products and services (unless they are aimed at a tech savvy audience that is).

    The home computer industry were incredibly slow on picking up on this. It is only in the last 8 years or so that they advertise the benefits rather than the specs.

    Oh, and Heather,you forgot one important gift – a well-earned rest! A Christmas break from writing will also do wonders for your writing in 2014.

  4. Richard Hostler says:

    I agree, Craig. Ideally, an expert knowledge level should make it easier to relate to all levels of audiences, especially those who need a simplified explanation of a complex system.

  5. Richard Hostler says:

    Good question, Andrew.

    A lot of what I do is product-based SEO. So I start by asking, “What do people call it?” The hummingbird update gives added importance to this question because of its increased focus on mobile and voice search. Now, more than ever, what some one “calls” a product matters and should be taken into consideration when researching and choosing keywords.

    The hummingbird update also validated something I’ve been saying for years. To put it very simply, the value of your copy is much more than the sum of your keywords. Google is increasing its reliance on semantic cues to generate search results. This means that the words around your keywords are doing more than they ever have to define what your page is about. Keep this in mind as you are writing and be sure to include location cues, synonyms, and other words google can use to more quickly and easily understand what your page is about.

    For example: the keyword “massage chair” is difficult for Google to define without some other semantic cues. This could mean a motorized massage chair, or it could mean the kind of chair a masseuse uses. Words, like “motors” or “lotion,” that we typically don’t think of as doing much for SEO can now help Google identify and serve your page in SERPS.


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