Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Copywriting Tips

Writing high-quality, search engine friendly content/articles for your website is crucial to achieve quality rankings in the search engines. Here are some tips to help you understand what you can do to improve your sites content and achieve your goals.

1. Write well
Content is king: this is the mantra of every SEO-conscious web developer out there. Google and other search engines love useful, well-written content. If users find your content useful, they will link to it and they will tell their friends about it. When Google finds these inbound links, that page’s ranking will rise even higher, which in turn will bring in more visitors.

One of the implications of writing well is that you should use as many different words that are as relevant to the title as possible. If your copy uses the same keywords again and again, search engines can tell that the article is shallow and not very useful. Conversely, is you use a wide vocabulary that is pertinent to the topic, search engines will infer that the article is authoritative, deep and useful. Google’s ability to determine the true value of a piece of writing by examining words other than the keywords is known as latent semantic indexing. For this reason, it is important to use synonyms of your keywords in addition to the keywords you are targeting.

2. Use the h1 tag for your title
Using the h1 tag for your title will make Google take the title extremely seriously, providing the title’s words are also present somewhere in the text. The h1 tag allows you to achieve a high degree of focus on your chosen keywords. The h1 tag is one of those golden SEO tips that will improve your search engine results very quickly.

You should also use the h2 tag on sub-headings, and the h3 tag on sub-sub-headings. If you make your article hierarchical, Google will give you a lot of respect.

3. Keyword density
The keywords that you are targeting should appear at the beginning, in most paragraphs and somewhere near the end. Once you have that down, just focus on producing exceptionally useful and comprehensive content. Do not stuff your articles with keywords, as this is spammy and search engines can tell. You are also a lot less likely to receive inbound links if your copywriting is poor.

4. Bold, italics, underlined
When you emphasize a word with italics, underlining or bolding, search engines assume that it is a keyword. Use this to your advantage to tell Google what your keywords are. The flip side of the coin is that you should only use these tags on keywords, or you will confuse the search engines and weaken the effect.

5. META tags
Use your title’s keywords in the and DESCRIPTION tags. Google will love it if the TITLE and DESCRIPTION tags are similar or identical. Do not repeat keywords in these (or any other) tags, as this is considered spam.

6. Numbered lists
For some reason people love to link to lists, so try and present some of your articles as numbered lists, along the lines of “10 ways to improve your website’s Google ranking.” Lists are easy to digest and are popular with bloggers.

7. File names
Use up to 5 keywords in the name of your files. Using keywords in the file name has some SEO benefit. You should also use keywords to name the directory in which the file is. In this way, all your URLs will consist of your domain name followed by keywords that are relevant to the page’s content.

8. Interlink your articles
Cross-linking your pages will ensure that PageRank is shared among the articles on your website; you don’t want a page that massively outperforms the others. Interlink your pages with contextual links whose anchor text is relevant to the target page. In addition to spreading PageRank over your websites, this technique will also help you tell Google what your pages are about.

9. Have useful external links
Linking to useful websites is vital. It has been shown experimentally that, other things being equal, pages with outbound links have a higher Google ranking than pages with no outbound links (Does the number of links on a page affect its ranking?). You should only link to pages that are relevant to your page’s content. You should also make sure that they have not been penalized By Google, or your page will be penalized too.

10. Do not use Flash
Flash is a real pain. It is also the biggest enemy of SEO, along with frames. Flash takes ages to load and cannot be read by the search engines: any information embedded in a Flash file will not be indexed, and the whole point of SEO is to make your content visible and understandable to the search engines. Flash also irritates users and drives them away, myself included. Enough said.

12. Do not use frames
There is no question about it – frames suck. Frames blithely do away with the fundamantal unit of web navigation: single, unequivocally identifiable web pages. They therefore completely destroy a website’s chances with the search engines. If a website uses frames, the ONLY page that search engines will index is the home page – if that. You’ve been warned!

13. Synonyms and plurals
To make your articles relevant to as many search queries as possible, you should use synonyms in your copy. Google will love this (see latent semantic indexing) and you will qualify for more search terms. A similar argument applies to plurals – it will make sure you get Google referrals for both the plural and singular versions of a given keyword.

If you have additional questions, please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

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