SEO Copywriting in 2017 – Tips and Tricks to Stay on Top of SERPS
Put down that keyword and listen up! SEO Copywriting is changing rapidly, despite what Yoast and other on page keyword planners tell you. In 2017, the SERPs are no longer all about the most links and the most keyword mentions. It’s not 1999. It’s time to change up your SEO copywriting best practices to keep up with Google.
What “User Intent” means and why it’s an SEO issue
If you’ve read anything about SEO in the last few years, you’ll be all over the idea of user intent. Your content must serve the search intention. If someone is Googling “Best SEO in Brisbane” they don’t want a whole lot of information about the history of SEO companies in Brisbane. They want a concise comparison of their SEO options that demonstrates why one SEO company is better than all the others in South East Queensland. User intention is measured in engagement – does the reader stick around for a long time? Does the reader bounce away after looking for just a few seconds? Does the reader click around the rest of the site?
When you write for this user, your copy must include info that keeps that user engaged. This is where old school SEOs fall down. User Intent has long been a “Conversion Rate Optimisation” problem rather than a “Search Engine Optimisation” one. Google is getting far smarter at seeing the two as intrinsically linked. SEOs and CROs have long been at war over elements like word count and content formatting. A pro SEO copywriter will deliver both Google love and sales conversions by understanding the user and serving his/her intentions perfectly.
User Intent does not equal one keyword per page of content
If you’re trying to attract clicks from a very specific persona with a very specific question, you may be tempted to focus on one very specific keyword. This is NOT the 2017 SEO copywriting best practice. An SEO company that specialises in the health industry may be trying to attract medium sized medical centres as SEO clients. The first instinct is to build a big chunk of copy around “Medical Centre SEO” or “Doctor SEO” or similar. That keyword demonstrates YOUR intent; not theirs. As the office manager at the Brisbane Medical Centre starts Googling, they will have a range of questions that need answering – even if they don’t know WHAT those questions are yet. They might be dealing with nervous doctors who must operate within specific industry laws and codes of ethics. They may be competing with another local doctor’s surgery and are worried about accidentally engaging the same SEO company. They might not know what SEO is and how it can help the practice.
So many questions that can only be answered by understanding the person Googling and their needs – aka user intent. So, what do you serve them, if not content over optimised for “Medical Centre SEO Brisbane”? By providing them with all the relevant information in one page of copy, and directly answering their questions, you’re going to be using a range of relevant keywords. These could include “Medical industry marketing”, “Advertising guidelines for doctors”, “Regulated Health Service marketing”, or just “web marketing for doctor”. By building solid content, you’re optimising for all the keywords relevant to them and their needs – user intent.
Some keywords you entered and their close variants have been grouped into one row
For a while now, Google has been trying to stop SEO Copywriters from taking this “one page, one keyword” approach and instead encourage us to focus on the “Ad Group” of keywords. It’s not just about making it a no-brainer for buying AdWords (apparently) it’s also about decluttering the Internet and individual websites. Why have six pages of laser targeted content when one could cover six different search intentions? By checking out all keywords in a single Ad Group or using the “Searches Related to” function at the bottom of search results, you can start to build a better picture of the content you should be writing and the keywords you can be serving.
Structured Data and Featured Snippets
Gone are the days of the “ten blue links” in search results. As Google expands its ever increasing list of ad types you can purchase, the “ten blue links” get fewer and fewer clicks.
Featured Snippets in search highlight your content at the very top of search results. You can’t buy this. You can’t even add mark up to try to get it featured. This is a reward for directly answering a search query, when your content is determined by Google to be the best answer.
Structured Data is a good way to get your site to “pop” in search results and is pretty much mandatory for any webmaster in 2017. For an SEO copywriter, that means being aware of the kinds of structured data tags will be added to your work and providing those in a “uniformed way”. For DIY SEO heroes, you’ll need to use the Structured Data Markup Helper in the Search Console Other Resources tab. As a web writer, it’s your job to ensure all the right sections are included in your work.
How search itself is changing in 2017
“Hey Siri…” “OK Google…” Voice search is on the rise and those searchers are asking real life questions, not repeating keywords. They’ll be asking “Where is the nearest pizza shop” not “Pizza North Brisbane”. Answering these long, specific questions with concise and highly relevant answers is the best way to take advantage of featured snippets going forward. With Google Home spreading like wildfire in the US, it’s only a matter of time before people are shouting questions into the air at home and Google is responding with verbalised results, read directly from your website.
So what about the old fashioned on page SEO plan?
Do you still need to optimise those H tags? Whip up a keyword rich meta title? Slap together a click magnet meta description? In short, yep. While Google is learning at an almost scary rate (AI is controlling more and more search results), making your site easy for search engines to understand is never a bad thing. Do you still need to slap keywords in everywhere? No. Latent Semantic Indexing is nothing new, it’s been a key factor in SEO for years. LSI keywording is where Google looks for adjectives, synonyms and related words to determine the quality of the writing and the depth of the content. By using rich language to talk in depth about your topic, you will find that you rank nicely for your keywords – you don’t need to keep playing them on repeat! While SEO copywriting is changing, it’s still the same as always – write informative and original content about your product or service and you’ll be ¾ of the way there.
For more information on SEO copywriting and all your digital marketing needs, get in touch with Media Heroes today on 1800 464 376.