Hello! It’s Chauncey Haworth again, expert on all things SEO. Today I want to talk about content, blogging, and copywriting. What is the point of writing good blog posts? Which is more important – writing good blog posts or writing good site copy? What are the characteristics of good SEO writing?
Many SEO writers are producing content today, and making good money from businesses on content marketing, without actually understanding the answer to those questions.
Let’s see what we can do about that.
Blog posts should attract backlinks and drive traffic to a page
You’ve probably been told by plenty of content marketing firms, “your website needs a blog.” But why? What exactly does the blog do for you that, down the road, results in more money for your business?
There are a couple of answers to that – the first is that blogs should bring in backlinks. That is, you know you have a great piece of content when reputable sites all around the internet are linking to your blog, Google will decide that it is valuable and rank your blog higher.
How valuable a backlink is depends on a number of constantly shifting factors. The two main ones are:
- The domain authority of the site that is linking to you: Google ranks every site between 1 and 10 in terms of overall reputability. This domain authority is based on a huge number of factors, and increasing the domain authority of your own site can be like trying to turn back the tides (but that’s a different article). The point is backlinks gain weight primarily based on domain authority.
- How do you determine the domain authority of a site? One excellent tool for this is the Moz open site explorer. Type in a URL, and Moz will give you a domain authority score between 1 and 100 that very closely matches Google’s own rankings.
- The relevance of a site: If Google knows that your site is about technology it will weight backlinks from other technology sites higher. Harley Davidson USA may have a lot of domain authority, but their links won’t help you much if you’re writing about software.
Of course, a blog article isn’t just written to increase traffic. Your blogs should also link to a landing page that drives conversion, so that potential customers will be funnelled where to where they ought to go. Every blog post you write should lead a customer to a specific landing page for a keyword that you want to rank for.
This brings us to our next point:
Each keyword you want to rank for should have a page associated with it
This is often counterintuitive for newcomers to SEO because good strategic keywords tend to be awkwardly phrased. But, even if the keyword you want to rank for is something unwieldy like “best pie shops Eugene, OR” you still need a page for it if you want to rank. If you don’t have a page, or you have a page but you don’t link to it from your home page, Google will believe that that keyword is not very important to you.
Furthermore, this page needs to lead to conversion. If all Google sees is that people show up on the page, stay for a little while, and then leave, Google will suppose that it wasn’t very useful. Your users need to perform some action on your page, whether it’s downloading a file, sending them a message on a contact form. Any copy on this page should entice customers to perform whatever action you want from them.
This is the first step of any SEO campaign, and is the bedrock of everything that comes after. If you produce blog posts, they must lead their readers back to these pages.
Effective site copy targeted after specific keywords is the core of SEO. If you do nothing else to improve your Google rankings, build pages.
Keywords go in title tags (among other places)
How do you associate a keyword with a landing page? This is something that’s actually fairly simple to do, and there are numerous programs and plugins, notably Yoast for WordPress, that can assist you with it.
Essentially, each page you write should have one H1 (the largest HTML heading type) and at least two H2s. The keyword you want the page to rank for should be in the H1, at least one of the H2s, and in the image alt text for any images on the page.
The keyword should also be represented in the text on the page is well, but be careful. Today, Google can not only determine what keywords are in your text, but if it is written using “natural language.” that is, if the language on a page resembles the way people generally talk. If a page doesn’t seem natural to Google, it may incur a slight penalty.
Furthermore, Google uses advanced “latent semantic indexing” to associate keywords with all of their possible synonyms. So a synonym of a keyword can be just as good as a keyword as far as the body of the text is concerned.
What this means: Make sure your keywords are in your title tags, but don’t stress too much about how many times they show up in the body of your text.
Good SEO writing techniques for pages and posts
As human beings who read, we all have an idea of what constitutes “good writing.” This is a good thing – I generally try not to hamper the creativity of my SEO writers. Generally, the more creative they are, the better work they produce. However, there are few facts that you should be aware of pertaining to the objectives of posts and pages.
- Blog posts should be written with an eye towards what the reader is interested in. They shouldn’t try to “sell” at all necessarily. Their purpose is to offer useful information and to be edifying to the reader. A certain subset of readers will continue on to your pages, and it is there that sales will take place.
- Pages should make a pitch to a prospective buyer. They will explain why your services are better than the services of your competitor. They should contain information that a customer would want to know before they buy. And they should include a call to action, as discussed.
Even though pages make a pitch, they should be written for humans. Sales doesn’t mean empty slogans, it means providing relevant information and making a cogent argument for your product or service.
Anything you write should be highly readable and digestible. This means writing at about an 8th grade reading level. This requirement is often depressing to writers, who are great lovers of language, but think of it this way: Writing SEO is like writing a sonnet. It’s a very strict form, and there are rules you can’t deviate from, but within that form you have total freedom.
Content writing is the same way. There are best practices, but ultimately it’s all about human-to-human communication. Connect to your readers and they (and Google) will reward you.