A guide to writing successful website copy
Written by Steve Hattrick
We all know that the lion’s share of web traffic comes through the search
engines. We also know that keywords and links to your site are the two
things that affect your ranking in the search engines. Your keywords tell
the search engines what you do, and the inbound links tell them how
important you are. This combination is what determines your relevance. And
relevance is what the search engines are after.
There’s a lot of information around about how to incorporate keyword
phrases into your HTML meta tags. But that’s only half the battle. You
need to think of these tags as street-signs. That’s how the search engines
view them. They look at your tags and then at your copy. If the keywords
you use in your tags aren’t used in your copy, your site won’t be indexed
for those keywords.
But the search engines don’t stop there. They also consider how often the
keyword phrase is used on the page.
To put it simply, if you don’t pepper your site with your primary
keywords, you won’t appear in the search results when a potential customer
searches for those keywords.
But how do you write keyword-rich copy without compromising readability?
Readability is all-important to visitors. And after all, it’s the visitors
that buy your product or service, not search engines.
By following these 8 simple guidelines, you’ll be able to overhaul the
copy on your website ensuring it’s agreeable to both search engines and
1) Categorize your pages
Before writing, think about the structure of your site. If you haven’t
built your site yet, try to create your pages around key offerings or
benefits. For example, divide your Second Hand Computers site into
separate pages for Macs, and PCs, and then segment again into Notebooks,
Desktops, etc. This way, you’ll be able to incorporate very specific
keyword phrases into your copy, thereby capturing a very targeted market.
If you’re working on an existing site, print out each page and label it
with its key point, offering, or benefit.
2) Find out what keywords your customers are searching for
Go to wordtracker.com and subscribe for a day (this will only cost you
about AUD$10). Type in the key points, offerings, and benefits you
identified for each page, and spend some time analysing what words
customers use when they’re searching for these things. These are the words
you’ll want to use to describe your product or service. (Make sure you read
WordTracker’s explanation of their results.)
3) Use phrases, not single words
Although this advice isn’t specific to the web copy, it’s so important
that it’s worth repeating here. Why? Well firstly, there’s too much
competition for single keywords. If you’re in computer sales, don’t choose
“computers” as your primary keyword. Go to Google and search for
“computers” and you’ll see why… Secondly, research shows that customers
are becoming more search-savvy – they’re searching for more and more
specific strings. They’re learning that by being more specific, they find
what they’re looking for much faster. Ask yourself what’s unique about
your business? Perhaps you sell cheap second hand computers? Then why not
use “cheap second hand computers” as your primary keyword phrase. This
way, you’ll not only stand a chance in the rankings, you’ll also display
in much more targeted searches. In other words, a higher percentage of
your site’s visitors will be people after cheap second hand computers.
(WordTracker’s results will help you choose the most appropriate phrases.)
4) Pick the important keyword phrases
Don’t include every keyword phrase on every page. Focus on one or two
keyword phrases on each page. For your Macs page, focus on “cheap second
hand macs”. For the PCs page, focus on “cheap second hand pcs”, etc.
5) Be specific
Don’t just say “our computers”. Wherever you would normally say “our
computers”, ask yourself if you can get away with saying “our cheap second
hand Macs” or “our cheap second hand PCs”. If this doesn’t affect your
readability too badly, it’s worth doing. It’s a fine balance though.
Remember, your site reflects the quality of your service. If your site is
hard to read, people will infer a lot about your service…
6) Use keyword phrases in links
Although you shouldn’t focus on every keyword phrase on every page, it’s a
good idea to link your pages together with text links. This way, when the
search engines look at your site, they’ll see that the pages are related.
Once again, the more text links the better, especially if the link text is
a keyword phrase. So on your “Cheap Second Hand Macs” page, include a text
link at the bottom to “Cheap Second Hand PCs”. If you can manage it
without affecting readability, also include one within the copy of the
page. For example, “As well as providing cheap second hand Macs, we sell
high quality cheap second hand PCs”.
7) Use keyword phrases in headings
Just as customers rely on headings to scan your site, so to do search
engines. This means headings play a big part in how the search engines
will categorise your site. Try to include your primary keyword phrases in
your headings. In fact, think about inserting extra headings just for this
purpose. Generally this will also help the readability of the site because
it will help customers scan read.
8) Test keyword phrase density
Once you’ve made a first pass at the copy, run it through a density
checker to get some metrics. Visit GoRank’s Keyword Density Analyzer and
type in the domain and keyword phrase you want to analyse. It’ll give you
a percentage for all the important parts of your page, including copy,
title, meta keywords, meta description, etc. The higher the density the
better. Generally speaking, a density measurement of at least 3-5% is what
you’re looking for. Any less, and you’ll probably need to take another
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to effective SEO
Just remember, don’t overdo it. It’s not easy to find the balance between
copy written for search engines and copy written for customers. In many
cases, this balance will be too difficult to achieve without professional
help. Don’t worry, though. If you’ve already performed your keyword
analysis, a professional website copywriter should be able to work your
primary keyword phrases into your copy at no extra charge.
Steve owns and runs konteaki furniture
one of the leading furniture stores in the UK
As well as developing and marketing their webstore.
View their website at: http://www.hattrick-furniture.co.uk
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