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Should you create original SEO content? Or, should you optimize an existing page (in other words, add keyphrases without rewriting the copy?).

Freelance and in-house writers ask this question all the time. I receive emails saying, “My boss (or client) wants me to add keyphrases to this existing page. The problem is, the page isn’t very good. Will the keyphrases help? Or is better to rewrite it?”

That’s an excellent question that I address in the video  — or, you can read the modified transcript, below.

SEO copywriting and SEO editing — what’s the difference?

First, let’s go over the differences between SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing.

Keyphrase editing is also known as “on-page optimization,” “optimizing the text,” or “SEO copyediting.” The technique is to add keywords — either derived from the writer’s keyphrase research or received from an SEO — to existing text.

When a page is optimized (or edited,) the content is not rewritten. The writer may edit the page Title and meta description, but for the most part, she’s working with the existing content.

SEO copywriting usually refers to creating original content. The writer still conducts keyphrase research (or receives the keyphrases from an SEO.) However, rather than editing the existing content, she would write brand-new content and include the keyphrases (along with synonyms and related words.)

So you see, SEO copywriting and keyphrase editing are very different: one is working with existing text, and the other is throwing away the existing text and starting fresh.

Should you optimize your site? Or rewrite your pages?

So, when is a better strategy to edit existing pages rather than rewrite them?

It’s best to optimize a page (keyphase editing) when:

  • You (and your readers) already love the content
  • The page isn’t crucial to the sales process
  • The bounce rate isn’t too high

If you have content on your site you (and your readers) already love and it’s performing well, but it wasn’t written with keyphrases the first time around, the page may be a good candidate for keyphrase editing.

It’s also OK to edit the page when it isn’t crucial to the sales process. For example, I’ve worked with companies that have edited old blog posts and saw a great bump in search positions as a result. Editing FAQ pages and articles can offer the same benefit.

Finally, optimizing the page is OK when the time on page (or bounce rate) isn’t too high. You know that people are sticking around and reading the page once they’ve landed on it, so adding in some strategic keyphrases here and there is typically fine for that page.

An SEO content editor or an SEO copywriter usually handles the keyphrase editing. He may be someone you employ in-house, or a freelancer.

There are also certain times when it’s better to write original content, such as:

  • When the page is crucial to the sales process
  • When the page is a duplicate
  • When page conversions or time on page is low

If a page is crucial to the sales process, or is somehow intended to make money — like the home page, and subcategory pages such as products and services — it’s better to rewrite it.

You also want to rewrite the page if it’s a duplicate. This is common with  local landing pages, where two (or more) pages may be basically the same (outside of the city name.)

Also, when you know that the page isn’t working — you’re not getting conversions, the time on page is low, and people are bouncing out quickly —  rewrite it. Readers are telling you they don’t like the page by leaving as soon as they can.

Sure, you can edit the keyphrases into a poorly performing page and sure, hypothetically that page might position a little better, but it won’t help boost conversions.

Either a freelancer or an experienced in-house SEO copywriter can rewrite your pages. Also, an SEO content strategist could do the keyphrase research for you, as well as dovetail her research with the rest of your SEO plan.

Make sense? There’s clearly a difference between when you would write original content and when you can work with the existing content — and it’s smart to know those differences before you proceed.

(Editors note: I originally wrote this post in 2011. A lot has changed since then, so I updated the video and the transcript. I hope you enjoyed the post!)

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Do you think keyphrase usage destroys well-written content?

Well, you’re right. Up to a point.

Way back in 2011, Lee Odden wrote “Content Strategy and the Dirty Lie About SEO.” At the end of the post, he posed the question – the question that’s been debated ever since “writing for search engines” started:

Do you think SEO ruins content?

My first reaction was, “Of course not. Good SEO writing is good writing — period.”

I still feel the same way.

But…the haters have a point.

Six years later, there’s still a bunch of SEO writing B.S. floating around:

  • Focus on one keyphrase per page, and repeat it at least X times.
  • Focus on X keyword density (why won’t keyword density die?)
  • Include a keyword every X words.
  • Exact-match your keyphrase at least X times in your copy.

Maybe you believe some of this B.S., too (it’s OK. This is a judgement-free zone.)

This B.S. is why some SEO copy is horrible.  Is it any wonder why some folks think SEO ruins everything?

So, here’s the real deal:

Yes, SEO can completely decimate content — if you’re doing it wrong.

Here’s how:

When the content is written/optimized by someone who has no idea what they’re doing

Most keyphrase-stuffed content I read comes from folks operating on incorrect information.

They do what their clients tell them (for instance, focus on one keyphrase per page) without knowing it’s wrong. These writers don’t know there’s a better way, so they keep doing the same (incorrect) things. Over and over and over.

The result is stuffed, stilted-sounding content that has no conversion flow. The page doesn’t position. The page doesn’t convert. It’s sad.

via GIPHY

Sadly, many writers think ALL SEO writing is poorly-written content. So, here’s a news flash:

Folks, if you ever think, “This post sounds bad. I had to work hard to add all those keyphrases,” you’re doing it wrong.

When the content is written “for Google,” without readers in mind

Raise your hand if you’ve been asked to write “1,000 words for Google.”

Yeah, me too.

SEO writing isn't "writing for Google"

Sadly, some folks believe that following a strict writing formula will help them magically position. These folks don’t care about the content’s readability. They only care about the keyphrase usage.

They may even come right out and say, “I don’t care if anyone reads this. I just want the page to position.”

Ouch.

This magical SEO copywriting formula may include things like:

  • Specific word counts because “all posts should be X words for Google.”
  • Exact matching a nonsensical long-tail keyphrase multiple times (for instance, [portland relocation real estate oregon].
  • Bolding or italicizing words that shouldn’t be bolded or italicized.
  • Repeating all keyphrases X times in the first paragraph.

If you find yourself following a weird writing formula that makes the content read like gibberish, know it’s not true SEO writing. What’s more, following a writing formula won’t help you position. The best bet is to learn the right way to do things and throw those useless old rules out the window.

Don’t believe me? Check out Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines and see how Google defines low-quality content.

When the Titles are filled with keyphrases, with no conversion focus

This is a pet peeve of mine.

Get rid of Title pipes

I’ve discussed before how overly-optimized Titles are an inefficient branding method. The search results page is your first conversion opportunity. A Title that’s chock-full of keyphrases isn’t as persuasive as one that’s benefit-rich:

Which listing would get YOUR click?

GEICO’s “you could save $500+” is a fantastic benefit statement, and blow’s Progressive’s keyword-focused Title out of the water. Esurance is a runner-up since they include the benefit “fast” — but the Title could still be better.

Need more “good” and “bad” Title examples? Here’s a great post from Search Engine Watch.

SEO doesn’t ruin content. It’s “stupid” SEO that messes things up

Smart SEO doesn’t ruin good content. It enhances it – making it easier to be found in search engines and shared via social media. If you’ve mastered the art of online writing for both engines and people, you have a very valuable skill set.

On the flip side, yes, stupid SEO will ruin content. And your conversions, too. As my father used to say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” – and repeating a keyword incessantly will not suddenly transform the page into “quality content.”

It reminds me of what some folks say about sales copy being too “sales-y.” There’s a way to include a call-to-action that gently leads someone to the next action step. And there’s a (wrong) way to do it that beats them over the head with hyped language, bold and italics (Hmm. now that I think about it, what IS it about bolded and italicized text?).

What do you think? Is SEO the death of good writing?

Greetings!  Today’s SEO copywriting video tip addresses the three telling signs that your SEO copy may be over-optimized.  Yes, there is such a thing, and it happens when you’ve geared the copy so heavily towards the search engines that you’ve forgotten about the user experience.

Join Heather as she discusses the three telltale signs that your web content is over-optimized, and the three ways to fix the problem:

1) Too Many Keyphrases on the Page

  • Pages like the one shown are easy to spot: it is pretty obvious that the keyphrases are New York City and gift baskets.  But for the folks who are trying to read the page, and determine whether or not they want to work with this company, it’s flat-out bad copy:
  • User experience = bad. Too much emphasis on SEO: There’s nothing in the copy for the reader, and there’s nothing that speaks to benefits. Plus, the copy is so hard to wade through that anyone reading the page would be tempted to bounce out and find another site.

In trying to achieve ranking, the writer has created a user experience that is so bad that it’s actually hurting conversions.

  • The fix?  Reduce keyphrases: You have to pare down the keyphrases in the copy.  In some cases, this might mean that you have to re-write the page altogether.  But when you do that, and bring focus to what you’re doing, you’re going to see a huge jump in sales.

2) Too Many Hyperlinks on the Page

Sometimes copywriters pepper the page with hyperlinks for the perceived SEO benefits, thinking all those hyperlinked keyphrases will automatically get the page top ranking.  Others overdo it with the hyperlinks because they want to give their readers lots of choices, so they end up giving them all the choices and assume the reader will pick one.

  • Again, the user experience = bad.  Too many choices cause overwhelm.  Plus – what’s in it for the customer?

From the search engine perspective, hyperlinking users all over the place is not going to help you in your SEO ambitions – it’s not going to help you increase your rankings. From the users’ perspective, they are overwhelmed with too many choices and they find it difficult to make a decision.

  • The fix?  Focus on your conversion funnel

What you want to do in this case is to think about what’s in it for the prospect — the customer benefits – and then focus your copy around that.  On a landing page, narrow down the decisions facing the reader and hone it to a few educated choices.

In removing the “overwhelm” factor for readers, you’ll see a higher conversion rate as you help move the prospect along the conversion funnel:  you’ll achieve an increase in ROI.

3) “Fluffy” SEO Copy

  • The content is longer than it needs to be, so it loses conversion flow
  • Local pages and e-commerce product pages are typically the worst offenders

“Fluffy” SEO copy is often a result of the writer or site editor being instructed to conjure 500 words for a web page in order for it to be recognized by the search engines.  This 500-word rule has never been true – it’s a tenacious misconception.  So the writer ends up trying to say something in 500 words that may ideally need only 250 words.

The result is that the content is not only too long, but that it really isn’t written for the readers.  Instead, it’s stuffed with fluff to meet a mythical search engine word count.

  • The fix?  Write great sales copy and weave in the SEO elements.  Not the other way around.

This requires a change in thinking.  Approaching your web page copy this way, you’ll have really good, tight, benefits-oriented copy that will not only help folks to take action, but you’ll have what you need for the search engines too.

 

Want to know the secrets to writing a top-converting services page?

Unlike product pages, which are all about landing the sale, service pages are different.

It’s all about getting the lead.

With that in mind, here are seven smart strategies for capturing leads with savvy SEO copywriting.

Watch the video for all the juicy information, or check out a summary of the tips below:

1. Focus on benefits, not features

Don’t bury your benefit statements! It’s important to address how your service can specifically help your prospect. For instance, will your service save your customers money? Help them make more money? Streamline their operations? Tell them!

Features are important– but it’s your unique sales proposition (U.S.P.) and benefit statements that will grab your prospect’s interest and make them contact you. Merely listing features makes you sound the same as everyone else providing the same or a similar service. Who wants that?

2.  Consider persona-specific landing pages

Creating landing pages specifically addressing your main targeted audiences is a powerful strategy.

Constant Contact, an email platform, used to show vertical-specific landing pages targeted towards individual industry niches. I LOVE this approach. Why? Vertical-specific pages have very cool SEO and reader benefits.

From the SEO side, vertical-specific landing pages allow you to target highly specific keyphrases, for example [email marketing for real estate agents].

From the reader side, you can tie your writing back to your customer persona and drive home the “what’s-in-it-for-them” benefits. For instance, in the case of Constant Contact, people won’t just read about how cool email marketing is — instead, they’ll read an entire page focused on the benefits of email marketing for their industry. That’s a pretty powerful message!

3.  Don’t write skimpy copy

67% of the B2B buyers’ journey is done digitally, according to Forrester Research. That means if your site offers skimpy information and little copy, you run the risk of prospects leaving your site and checking out another vendor. Remember, people won’t “just call” or send you an email. No solid services information = no sale.

4. Include solid, vertical-specific testimonials

Yes, testimonials are smart to have on your site as social proof — but they are only as credible as you make them. Whenever possible, use the full, real names of your testimonial clients rather than just initials.  The latter can look fake (however real they might be) and could prove counter-productive.

5.  Highlight your company’s overarching benefits, too

Besides individual, specific service benefits, you want to highlight the larger, big-picture benefits that your company has to offer on every single page of your website.

Do you offer free, fast shipping? Does your company offer “white-glove” services, while your competitors offer a DIY solution? Shout your overarching benefits from the rooftops!

Boring B2B and B2C companies list technical features and facts, assuming that’s all their prospect wants (or needs) to know. Don’t be like those companies! In the words of Theodore Levitt from Harvard University, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

6Pay close attention to your page Titles

Yes, Titles are very important to readers and for SEO purposes — and it’s crucial to write them right.  If you create vague, non-descript Titles with broad keywords, such as “marketing services” or “web design,” you won’t see the positions you want — nor will you see much organic search traffic.

If your Titles are so-so, consider revisiting your keyphrase research and making some strategic tweaks. You may see a boost in page positions (and search traffic) if you do!

7.  Consider conducting keyphrase research before you name your services 

A cool-sounding, unique service name may seem edgy — but it may not be intuitively searchable. Naming your service something like “Revenue $ucce$$” when you offer “accounts payable services” may make your service hard to find online.

Some companies will conduct keyphrase research before naming a service. That way, they know what words people are using to search for what they offer — and they can consider using those search terms as part of the service name.

Looking for more how-to information? Learn how to write a killer home page and a revenue-driving product page!

Guest Author, Bharati Ahuja

Recently we have been observing many changes affecting the SEO industry. These changes are all initiated by Google and have a direct impact on SEO campaigns in some way or another. The SEO industry has been exploding the web with blog posts, comments and opinions about these updations, most of which are like an accusation that Google is out to get at organic search with a vengeance and give preference, priority and partial treatment to paid search.

The major Google developments affecting the search scene have been:

  • Obviously, the Panda update
  • The integration of Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics, reflecting SEO data (queries, landing pages, geographical data)
  • Google Analytics social data (engagement, action and pages )
  • Google Analytics real-time data (Beta Version – this data shows you what is happening on your website as it happens, but only some accounts have access to these reports)
  • Google’s “Encrypted Search”

Of course there are many more, but these updates and developments have a direct impact on SEO campaigns. I believe that whatever the prime objective of Google may be currently –whether it is to promote paid search or to improve the quality of organic search results in general — in the long run, these changes will surely improve the quality standards of the SEO industry and improve the overall quality of the web. Why?

  • The Panda update focused on quality content and an eradication of content spam.
  • The reflection of the social data proves that the integration of social and search results is something that Google is working on and taking seriously.
  • The other developments related with Google Analytics and encrypted search shows that Google wants the website owners to get genuine and accurate data for their SEO campaigns .

The prime objective of an SEO campaign is to earn the clicks due to the quality aspects of the website as per the search engine standards and not account for every click as in the case of PPC, where every click has a cost implication.

Moreover, if the site is optimized correctly the search presence of the website continues to improve and become richer with time, thereby ensuring an increasing trend for targeted traffic, whereas in the case of a paid search campaign the period for which the website is having the search presence is limited to the period for which you are paying for the campaign.

I think all these changes are drawing a clear, distinct line between organic search campaigns and paid campaigns. The choice is to be made by the website owner, whether he wants to build a search presence step by step via a SEO campaign or go for a Paid search presence campaign via paid search, or would like to have a combination of both , depending on  the approach, need and requirement for a search engine presence.

All of these developments will make SEOs and website owners think beyond rankings and keywords, because the true meaning of SEO is to ensure quality search engine presence on maximum search options by focusing on overall quality web presence — enhancing the quality aspects of the website and reaching out to netizens via various modes of social media.

About the Author:

Bharati Ahuja  is founder of WebPro Technologies, SEO Trainer and Speaker, Web Entrepreneur, Blog Writer, and Internet Marketing Consultant.

Greetings to you! Today, Heather addresses how to write for Google’s expanded site links. Yes, you may have noticed that Google has made yet another change to its SERP (search engine results page). This change presents a fantastic opportunity: besides displaying expanded site links, Google is also displaying a little snippet from each of those links from the page’s meta description.

So now, rather than having just one or two links and corresponding meta description snippets to leverage, you’ve up to six via Google’s expanded search results. Tune is as Heather explains more about this newest SEO opportunity and how to take full advantage of it:

1. More SERP real estate – more opportunities

With the expansion of site links in Google’s search engine results comes that much more SERP real estate for site owners to fill out with meta descriptions (think marketing statements) for those links.

As shown by the Brookstone SERP example, there is little bit of information about each site link (“snippet”) included beneath the main site link. These snippets are pulled from the corresponding pages’ meta descriptions.

  • Now, the meta description is even more important

2. Why? A comparison to illustrate: Starbuck’s vs. Seattle’s Best Coffee

Looking at the SERP for Starbuck’s, you can see that it has its sitelink optimization down, providing unique descriptions across their pages from its career center to its compelling product description.

On the other hand, looking at Seattle’s Best Coffee, you see that they have the same meta description across multiple pages: coffee, coffee locator, zip code, map it.

  • So you can see how Google’s new way of displaying its search results provides a great opportunity for writing multiple, powerful marketing statements.

Granted you don’t have  a lot of characters to work with – around 35’ish with spaces – but you can see what you can do to make those characters count, making your statement the best it can be for the user.

3. So what does this mean for you?

  • Check your sitelinks – what do you see?
  • Know that every page must have a unique meta description. If your pages don’t have a meta description, this is great opportunity.
  • Google is displaying about 35’ish characters of the opening meta description text, so you need to write well and write tight.
  • Adding keyphrases and calls to action is a great idea.

A great resource (which inspired this post) is by Adam Sherk: http://www.adamsherk.com/seo/google-expanded-sitelinks-optimization/.

 

Wrestling with the Panda?

If the challenge of working with Google’s Panda update is weighing heavily on your SEO copywriting mind, you’re not alone. Today’s video post addresses the ever more frequent reader question: How do I write online copy for Google’s Panda update?”

The Panda update has received a lot of attention in industry news and online forums for some time now, as many site owners have found pages that had positioned relatively well before the update have dropped – often dramatically – post-Panda.  And they’re scrambling to figure out what to do about it.

So for today’s video how-to, Heather has put together some tips for working with Google’s Panda update:

1.  Don’t Try to Trick the Panda

There are all kinds of articles and posts online about “special techniques” to get around the Panda update, or to somehow “fool” Google whereby it considers your site to have far more quality content than it actually does.

  • Don’t Do It!

The gist of Google’s Panda update is that Google wants to reward those sites that have good content with higher rankings in its search engine results. The Big G does not want icky, anemic content that fails to educate readers or otherwise convey value.

  • Instead, Take the Opportunity to Revisit Thin Web Pages & Rewrite Content

Rather than trying to “trick” the Panda or find a way around Google’s algorithm, focus instead on doing what everyone was supposed to be doing in the first place:  follow best practices and create truly valuable content that resonates with your readers and offers them a worthwhile user experience.

2.  Focus on Quality – Not Quantity

One of the issues pre-Panda was that site owners were trying to crank out as much copy as they possibly could.  So rather than focusing on the quality of content, many site owners were of the mindset:  “We need to create 20 articles around one keyword…the articles don’t need to be good, we just need them written fast and uploaded even faster.”

  • So if you feel like you’ve been writing at a break-neck pace and your content reflects that (i.e., it hasn’t been all that good), then this gives you the opportunity to step back and evaluate your writing to figure out how you can make it better.

Rather than concerning yourself with kicking out X number of articles per day/week/month, focus on content quality.  By quality, consider these parameters:

  • Content that likely will be shared
  • Content that is genuinely useful and informative

If you create content around what your readers want rather than what you think Google wants, then that will improve your copy immediately.

3.  Feed the Panda Healthy – Not Junk – Content

What Panda did was to weed out sites that churned out what Google considers “thin content.”  We’ve all seen these pages, where they positioned well in search results but when you clicked through to the site, you were greeted with horrible writing and a bunch of ads – and you could readily tell that the content was written strictly for search engines.

  • As with quality content vs. quantity “pulp,” you want to focus on what would make a good reader experience: substantive content that would be “passed” by Panda and considered good “Google juice,” rather than poor copy that the Panda will munch away and kick out of the index.
  • So again, this presents a great opportunity to winnow out any junk content that you might have on your site, and start rewriting these pages gradually so that they’re centered on your readers, targeted towards your reader persona, and offer what your readers want.

Creating high-quality, “nutritious” content that your readers will love will also do well in feeding the Google Panda what it loves. It’s a win-win solution for everyone — including that bear.

 

Greetings!  Today’s web writing video post answers a question from the SEO Copywriting LinkedIn group:  “How can I tell if an SEO copywriting tip is legit?”

An excellent question, as the online world is thick with misinformed SEO “advice.”  Join Heather as she discusses how to judge if that “expert SEO tip” is legit or flat-out b.s.

Beware the B.S.:  In this particular instance, the writer was told most adamantly that according to some online source, bullet points would hurt search engine rankings, to which Heather replies:

  • No, bullet points
  • Will not hurt
  • Your search engine rankings
  • I promise. :)

This kind of “expert” stuff is everywhere online, and much of it is simply not true.  Bullet points will not hurt search engine rankings. And p.s., there is no magic keyphrase formula, keyword density or ideal word count for search engines. Heather has addressed these and other prevailing misconceptions about SEO before, including her posts on SEO copywriting myths and SEO Keyword Density.  (The corresponding video on SEO Copywriting Myths is on the SEO Copywriting YouTube Channel).

So how do you distinguish the sound information from the b.s.?  Here are three tips for evaluating those online tips…

Tip #1:  Who said it and where?  Consider the source.

  • When you come across that SEO tip or news that makes you say “hmmmmm…” stop and consider the source.

For instance, if the person who broke the news or made the claim is from a credible site such as Search Engine Land and is a recognized authority, then yes, the information is definitely worth considering and investigating further.

On the other hand, if the source is “Bob’s Copywriting Blog,” and you know nothing about this Bob person, or if you’re finding that Bob hasn’t been in the industry that long and you haven’t heard anything about him, then the credibility of Bob’s information is questionable.

Tip #2:  Do other experts back up the claim? 

  • Regardless of who makes the claim, do a bit of research: are other experts backing it up?
  • Are you going to other authority sites and finding the same information repeated over and over?

If you’re finding that yes, this is a claim or technique that is working and has a record of success, then you may want to pay attention to that information.

One of the typical issues with an SEO tip is that while the person sharing it may have found success with the technique on their own site, it doesn’t necessarily transfer well to sites across the board.  You’ll want to make sure others have realized success with the technique on their sites.

Tip #3:  If in doubt, ask a consultant before implementing the strategy.

  • This is especially important if you’re looking at a technique or strategy that might dramatically change your page or site structure.
  • The last thing you want to do is implement a strategy you found online, and then find that it’s not the best thing to do for your site.

A recent post-Panda technique that got a lot of press and received much online attention was HubPages’ use of sub-domains.  For HubPages, breaking out key pages into sub-domains proved a successful way — for them — to work around Google Panda.

Understandably, your first instinct might be “oh wow – I have to do that too!”  But again, this is an example of one of those techniques that you find online that might have worked well for one company, but is not necessarily going to work for your site.  Or, equally important, the hot new strategy may take so much time and effort to implement that it doesn’t make sense for your business model.

A consultant can help you evaluate whether or not a new strategy or technique is advisable for you and your unique set of circumstances.

 

Greetings! Ready to get your learn on? Great, because today’s SEO copywriting video post delves into the question:  How many words should be on my homepage?

Heather’s SEO copywriting tip actually piggybacks on a recent (Google) Matt Cutts’ (“that’s a good question”) video addressing whether you should have more or less content on your homepage.  In his 57-second response, Matt doesn’t really cut it with his abbreviated answer. So here, Heather follows up on the question with the specifics on optimal homepage word count, discussing why you should move beyond counting words to how you can achieve reader engagement, conversions and page rank with a killer home page.

 

What Matt Cutts from Google Says:

  • The original question posed to Matt Cutts was: “Should I have more or less content on my home page? There’s certainly a difference of opinion here.”  His answer?
  • “If you have more content on your home page, there’s more text for Googlebot to find.” You can view the very brief video at http://youtu.be/4rsOpkDFDtc

So What is the “Correct” Word Count for Your Home Page?

Yes, there are a lot of different opinions on this subject, and that’s precisely why so many people are confused about what to do with their home page.  On one side of the coin, they want to have an exceptional home page that makes it easy for prospects to take action.  On the other, they want to have a home page that positions well in the search engines.

As usual, there is no definitive “right” answer.  The “correct word count” for your home page depends on a number of factors.  Yes, you do want a respectable word count, but you don’t want to bloat your home page with fluff just to make it with the search engines. So let’s look at this more closely…

Looking Beyond the Home Page Word Count: Factors that Matter Most

You want to think about your home page from your prospects’ perspective.  What benefits and message do THEY need to read?

  • Landing on your home page, your prospects may or may not know your company.  Focus on what you need to say on your home page that will engage your readers and keep them on your site.

What are you doing on your home page to make it easy for your readers to take action?

  • You certainly don’t want to see your visitors land on your home page and immediately bounce off of it.  Your goal is to get your readers to go deeper into your site to learn more about how you can help them with the products/services you provide.
  • If you have a blog, you want your visitors to be able to read more of it, not just stop where you blog ends off on your home page.

How is your home page positioning?  How is it faring with conversions?

  • Analytics!!  Check them.  If your analytics show a high bounce rate from your home page, and that your visitors are not going to your site’s inner pages, then this presents a huge opportunity for your to revise your home page and make it easier for your prospects to do what you want them to do.
  • If your analytics are indicating that things just aren’t “clicking” in terms of conversions, time spent on you home page, or positions, you need to make some changes.

Is your existing home page content written for readers – or is it just serving the search engines? There’s a big difference.

  • We’ve all seen many sites where the top part is all pretty pictures and slick graphics, with maybe a few words.  Then beneath the fold, there are about 500 words comprised mostly of hyperlinks to serve the search engines. It’s not like anyone’s actually going to read that hyperlinked content, and often those 500 words are not even well written.
  • If that’s the way you’re writing your home page, the good news is that you can have the best of both worlds:  a good amount of quality content on your site that is targeted to your readers and still serves to get those search engine positions.

You can have it all with great home page content and search engine appeal.

  • A great example of serving both your readers and the search engines with your home page content is the site 37 Signals (now Basecamp.) These folks do it right. You’ll find that on the top part of the screen, 37 Signals funnels users into the different types of products they offer.  (They follow up with a lot of copy on their site geared towards these distinct users).  Then below that, they’ve fantastic content written for all users, with social proof, etc.
  • You can have the best of both worlds on your home page: quality content targeted to your readers and still achieving good search engine positions, if you make sure that the ranking-oriented copy is good, solid value-added content.  It won’t work for anyone if it’s simply “fluff” for the search engines.

 

Welcome back!  Today Heather answers a question from her SEO Copywriting Facebook groupHow do I become an SEO copywriter and get clients?” In a two-part answer to this loaded question, Heather first addresses how to go about learning SEO and direct response copywriting before you start working with clients, and then what to do once you feel ready to work with clients.

Ready? Then get set: Here’s the word on how to become an SEO copywriter and land those clients!

A lot of folks decide to enter into an SEO copywriting career because they not only love to write — blogs, short stories, poetry, etc. – but also want to make it pay.  Does this sound like you?  If so, then here’s how to do it!

Before You Start Working With Clients…

  • Learn everything you can about SEO and online writing: If you come from print, you’ll be taking the same set of writing skills and applying them just a little bit differently when you write online.

There are a few critical differences between print and online writing that you’ll want to master. And while it may sound really technical at first, and there may seem entirely too much to read on the subject, it will serve you well to wade through a few lessons.  The more you know about SEO copywriting, the better you’ll be able to help your clients.

  • Want to write to sell? Learn the direct response writing basics: Writing to sell involves a whole different set of skills.  You will want to learn as much as you possibly can about direct response copywriting basics. This will help you write online content that is engaging and converts.
  • Consider taking a copywriting course: Many freelance writers report that they’ve successfully used copywriting courses as a “jumping off spot.” This is a great way to get all the information you need at once from a trusted source before moving on to the next level.  Recommended resources are AWAI Online and of course, the SEO Copywriting Certification course.
  • Start your own website. Put what you’ve learned into practice: This is a fantastic opportunity to play, by taking what you’ve learned and testing it on your own website. Are those techniques and best practices you’ve studied working for your own site?

Ready to Work With Clients?

Once you’re confident you’re ready to work with clients, you’ll want to:

  • Make sure that your own site is perfect: If you don’t have a website for your own business, then now would be the time to create one! Why? Because your prospective clients are going to ask you if you’ve a site to check out. If you don’t have one, well…it’s gonna look pretty weird if you call yourself a website/online/SEO writer, and yet not have a website of your own!
  • Optimize your website for your name, as well as for your main keyphrases: This piece of advice comes straight from Richard Hostler, the senior SEO copywriter from Brookstone (via an SEO Copywriter’s Certification call):  he routinely evaluates new copywriters he’s considering to hire by doing a google search for the applicant’s name. So be sure you’re there in search results when you are being considered for that copywriting gig!
  • Consider offering your services for free or low-cost to get your foot in the door: Sure, we’d all like to make money right out of the gate, but it does take a while to ramp up your copywriting career. Providing your services at zero to little cost for a non-profit or small business is a great way to prove your value. In return, they can provide you with testimonials, clips, and everything else you might need to cultivate even more clients… that you can charge for your services!
  • Consider working as an SEO copywriting assistant to gain experience: Folks who have pursued this route have reported great results from being able to work one on one with an established pro. Granted, while you may not be making that much money when you’re working within this kind of relationship, the long-term benefits do make it worthwhile. You’ve an expert in your pocket to help you with questions and otherwise guide you on your way.