SEO Secrets: 3 Ways to Improve Your Website Copy

  •    Tim is a freelance business writer. He writes about the business of innovation, comics and genre entertainment on The Full Bleed.

Copywriting has been a refined art ever since the late David Ogilvy used a talent for pairing the right phrase with the right image at the right time to build the global marketing, PR, and advertising empire we know today as Ogilvy & Mather.

As Ogilvy put it in a 1982 memo to his staff entitled, "How to Write," people who think well also write well and are more likely to be bound for greater heights in the ad business.

The same rule applies on the web. Learn to write good website copy and your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)—think of it as digital catnip for Google—will improve, as will your site ranking.

If good copy is good business, it's a good idea to learn what makes for good website copy. Here are three SEO secrets for improving your copywriting and attracting a wider audience online:

1. Search yourself first

How do those who visit your site find you? What terms do they search for? Connecting your site with a tool such as Google Analytics can help you find out. If they're finding you accidentally or via the wrong keywords, that's a clue your copywriting needs improvement.

Say you sell shoes online. If your copy is about the "comfortable soles" you manufacture into your flats, pumps, boots and sneakers, you may end up snaring surfers looking for churches or religious-based therapy. Take an hour to write out every phrase you wish prospects and customers would associate with your business and then enter those terms into Google. Do any of your competitors come up? Related businesses who offer an inferior product or service? Write to the keywords that will put you in relevant company.

2. Look for the long tail

Every keyword has a set of related keywords. Some are loosely related. For example, "loan" may be loosely related to "bad credit" or "credit report." Once you have the list of keywords and phrases you'd like your business to be known for, search for related ideas to include in your main site copy, blog posts and email marketing.

Returning to the shoe business, let's say you want to write a blog post on shoe repair because you have a cobbling side gig. LSIGraph allows you to put in a search term and get a whole list of related topics. In this case, entering "shoe repair" yields "shoe repair near me" and "best online shoe repair" as well as "boot resole." Incorporating any of these terms naturally into your post could bring in highly qualified traffic.

3. Have a voice and a heart

How you write is as important as what you write. Make your voice distinctive. Are you playful? Serious? How about your brand? Whatever is unique about you and what you sell should be reflected in your website copy. Never, ever let keywords distract from writing with a distinctive voice.

For your shoe business, that could mean using words that reflect the colorful styles you sell. Think about describing the sole of a pink pump. Would it be designed for "extra comfort" or just be "cushy" or "plush." Use adjectives that reflect brand-relevant adjectives that easily attach to keywords. Your blog post about shoe repair may include references to "cushy Uggs" and "stiff-legged" cowboy boots. You're still talking about the same product and a defined service, but in a way that reflects how you think about and care for these types of products.

SEO can be a fuzzy concept that feels like more art than science. Don't let yourself be intimidated; it's easier than you think. Figure out how you want to be known, and how you'd like to be found online. Include related keywords but make sure the writing isn't just about keywords. Then, write with a voice that's recognizable and consistent. And finally, write content that serves your audience. Offer to provide help and people will come to you for answers—and products. Online, that's as good as business gets.

Looking for more? Find useful SEO tips here.