Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for any business wanting to build an online presence and sell online.
When we write engaging SEO content, Google rewards us by placing web pages higher in search results, giving you higher visibility. This can increase the number of visitors to your site, who may just turn out to be customers.
But creating optimized copy is more than just typing in keywords and hoping for the best. Incorporating SEO into your content is an art, and like any art, it takes practice and a bit of creativity.
So, here’s our guide to help you sprinkle SEO into your copy so that you can rank higher on search.
Related: The 4 Pillars of SEO You Need to Know
1. Don’t overdo it with the keywords
You may have seen articles that repeat the same words over and over. This blunder is known as “keyword stuffing,” and it gets penalized by Google.
Your writing needs to make sense. If you’re constantly repeating the same keywords, it’ll be unreadable and confusing, making for a terrible user experience. When considering your keyword usage, keep both Google and your audience in mind.
Google wants to see that you’re:
- Using keywords that serve your readers what they want
- Producing high-quality copy.
Your audience wants to read content that corresponds with their search intent, and they want the copy to make sense. If you’re producing content that your audience doesn’t want to read, then you won’t rank well in search.
So, when it comes to keyword usage, make sure you’re only using keywords where they make sense. Google is smarter than you think, and to rank highly, you need to serve content that uses keywords in logical ways.
Related: Why Keywords Still Matter in SEO (But They Aren’t Everything)
2. Figure out what your audience wants to see
Before you write any copy, it’s important to determine the search intent of your audience.
Broadly, there are three main types of search intent:
- Informational: Around 80% of searches are informational. This is when the audience is searching for answers or information. For example, they may be searching: “What are the best tables for young kids?”
- Navigational: This is when the user knows what type of website or webpage they want to visit (eg “Ikea website”)
- Transactional: This is when the user wants to buy something (eg “buy a wooden Ikea table”)
So, before you write your copy, figure out what your audience wants. Do they want to learn more about something? Are they trying to buy something? This will guide your copy, and ensure that everything your writing is relevant to your audience.
To find out your audience’s search intent, use tools such as:
- Semrush, this will tell you your audience’s exact search intent
- Google Autocomplete
- Google’s “People also ask” section
Google prides itself on helping people find what they want, exactly when they want it. So, focusing on search intent is pivotal to your success when it comes to SEO.
To use search intent in your copy, you can:
- Use search queries as titles and subheadings in your text
- Write entire articles about queries
- Optimise product and service descriptions to match up with what people are searching
Related: 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use SEO to Boost Customer Service and Growth
3. Make sure your content is relevant
Search engines prioritize content that’s highly relevant and informative. But sometimes, creating relevant content is easier said than done.
When it comes to creating content, it’s important to:
- Stay on topic
- Keep it concise
- Be informative
- Make sure your content matches up with your audience’s search intent
Google also factors in how long users spend on a webpage. If people are leaving your page straight away, it indicates that your content isn’t relevant to them. So, create content that meets the needs of your audience, whatever these may be, as this will ensure that your content is highly ranked on search.
Here are some additional tips to show Google that your content is relevant:
- Use the keywords your audience are searching for
- Use your primary keywords early on in your copy
- Answer questions asked by your audience
Related: Simple Ways to Dramatically Improve Your SEO
4. Speak like your audience
Your audience will search for things in a very particular way, and it’s important to mimic this in your copy.
If your audience is searching for “best chairs for kids,” use this phrase as a keyword. Mimicking popular search terms will optimize your copy by making it relevant to your audience’s search intent.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of headlines
We’ve already mentioned headlines, but since they’re so important, they deserve their own section.
Let’s be real, when you’re searching for something on Google, you’re unlikely to click on a webpage with a dull headline.
Headlines have the ability to grab your audience’s attention, so it’s important to make them count. They’re also an easy way to tell Google and your audience what your page is about.
Here are some easy ways to optimize your headlines:
- Make sure your headlines are relevant to your body copy
- Use primary keywords in your headlines
- Use your audience’s popular search phrases in your headlines
When it comes to headlines, be wary of their length. Headings over 60 characters get truncated by Google. So, to avoid cutting off your headline, keep it concise.
Related: Learning Google SEO Can Help You Grow Your Business on a Budget
6. Optimize your metadata
Metadata tells Google what your webpage is about, and although it may not always be seen by users, it can be very valuable.
It’s important to put your main keywords in your meta tags, meta descriptions and meta titles as this will help Google read your content and define its relevance.
When it comes to metadata, put effort into your headings and descriptions, because not only may these form the snippets of writing that appear in your search listing, but they’ll also tell Google what your content is about. Ensure that your headings and descriptions are just as meticulously thought out as your body copy, as this will help Google index your web pages higher in its search results.
7. Write for humans
Above all else, keep the user at the front of your mind. When writing SEO copy it can be easy to get carried away by formulas, hacks and top tips when in reality writing for humans is the best way forward.
Writing that is engaging, unique and informative will always win out over content that is constructed purely for search engines. The goal should not be to rank, but rather to provide the information a user is looking for.
Ultimately, Google just wants to provide users with the best possible content for their search queries. If you can deliver this in a way that is more in-depth, unique and engaging than your competitors, you’re sure to rank well.