SEO. It's not rocket science.
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me if I write SEO friendly copy, I’d have spent even more money on chocolate. SEO is the holy grail for many businesses. And copy matters. But so do a lot of other things. Here’s what you need to get right with your copy and with everything else too.
Do you know your keywords? Google’s keyword tool or the word tracker website are a good place to see what people look for.
Keywords split into two categories:
Short tail: these are really generic keywords like ‘restaurant’. It’s unlikely you’ll rank highly on this even if you are a really great restaurant.
Long tail: these are more specific like ‘Italian restaurants in Wimbledon’. Fewer people will search for this but when they do, you’ll be exactly what they’re looking for.
SEO is all about how easily Google can work out what you do. This is handy because you also want your reader to be able to work out what you do. If you write your website accurately, relevantly and helpfully, chances are it will work for your reader and for Google.
To take this one step further make sure you signpost accurately throughout your website:
Use page titles, headings and bullet points to highlight what you do.
Be smart with your links. Google looks at links, even if they are internal to your website. Again, being generic works against you. For example: if you write "Click here for my copywriting course details" then when Google sees that link, it doesn’t learn anything about you. But if you write "You can find details of my copywriting course here" then Google learns what you do when it scans that link.
Make sure your alt text is accurate.
Make sure your body content is accurate, relevant and helpful.
Links for SEO
Google likes seeing that other websites are linking to yours because that implies you are an influencer, a source or a specialist.
If you want to use links to improve SEO, you have to get serious about being an influencer, a source or a specialist. One way to do this is to grab opportunities to write for other publications and editorials. Another is to create really valuable content on your website that people like, want and share. Aha! You say. This is why everyone bangs on about blogs? Yes, it is.
Just to add a bit of pressure, the more influential the linker is, the better. And the more prominent the link is on their site, the better. If The Guardian is linking to you from their home page that’s going to carry a lot of weight. It also means you’ve done something very right or very wrong. Good luck with that. But on a serious note, you can see here how good PR that gets you mentioned in relevant publications and that link to you website can have more value to you than just the mention itself. It'll boost your SEO.
Don’t’ even try to game the system – the no-nos
If you’re working hard to improve your SEO, you don’t want to undermine it by falling foul of the following no-nos.
Don’t duplicate copy on your site. If a message is relevant in two places, re-write it in a different way.
Don’t’ duplicate copy on other sites. If you’re posting blogs on social media, make sure you work out how to post it so that you get the credit as the original poster and you aren’t penalised for the duplication.
2. Overdoing the keywords
Don’t overdo the keywords. More isn’t better. Be relevant, be helpful, be accurate. Make sure your copy is readable to your audience and you’ll fare much better. A good copywriter will make sure they use your keywords naturally and they'll make sure they use all the likely synonyms a potential customer might use.
3. Paying for links.
You've seen the value of links from other companies in boosting your SEO. In the past it was possible to game the system by paying companies to link to you. Google worked out what was happening and changed their algorithm so that no longer works. This is great news. It means SEO is based on the genuine content of your website which is better for business and much better for the customer.
4. Slow loading time.
This seems mean to me as how can you possible help that? But then I’m not techy. It’s probably better to get your IT guy* onto that.
And finally... a quick extra point for local businesses and SMEs
There are a couple of good tips for small and local businesses.
Make sure you’ve listed Name, Address and Phone Number in local directories.
Put this information on your web pages as well.
Make it possible for people to leave reviews on your google listing.
I’m way out my comfort zone here but there are proper formats for supplying your address so it automatically links to google maps and so your phone number links to a customer’s smart phone. Ask your IT guy** about that whilst you’re on to him about your website’s loading time.
And that’s it. A whistle-stop tour of SEO. It’s not rocket science, but then very few things are.
*your brother-in-law. Probably.
** still your brother-in-law.