Winning Web Copy, Part 2: Keywords are Key

Great SEO Copy begins with keywordsSEO copywriting for the web is an art. It’s not about slapping any old words on a web page and waiting for the traffic to magically appear. As an SEO copywriter, I work with a team of other professionals to help make a client’s website successful: SEO firms, sponsored search specialists, web designers. The most challenging conversation I ever have with a new client is “words do not traffic make.” But they’re a damn good place to start.

While search engines are pretty doggone smart, they’re also pretty dang dumb. You have to tell them what’s important. You might have the most awesome doggie supply business on the planet Earth but if the search engines (and hence, all your prospective customers) don’t know that, you’re screwed. So what’s the key to breaking it down Barney-style and spoon feeding the search engines?

Keywords, keywords, keywords.

Today’s blog is a few simple steps you can take and tools you can use to start thinking like your customers and spoon feed the search engines exactly what they should know about your website, your business and who they should be sending your way.

  • Pretend you’re a customer. Stop being the business owner for a minute and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. When they go to the web, what are they typing into that Google Search box when searching for what you’ve got in spades? Here are some simple steps you can take to find out!
    • The Google Test. Play around in Google and act like a customer. If you sell doggie supplies, key in search terms like dog bowls, online pet supplies, online dog supplies, etc. See what comes up.
    • Snoop Around Your Competitors’ Yards. You know who they are, so why not pay their websites a visit? When you land on their home page, use a right click of your mouse to get a pop-up box that says view page source (Chrome/Firefox) or view source (IE). Click that. It will open up a new window that will show you all of that web site’s meta data (information that the site is giving to search engines). This includes keywords, page description and page title. Sneaky – make notes!
  • Dig Deeper: Keyword Research Tools. Using free online resources like Google’s Keyword Tool, you can type in multiple keywords and keyword phrases (a single keyword would be dog, a keyword phrase would be online dog supplies). You can then let Google (master of all that is Search), tell you how popular those keyword combinations are! Why is this useful?
    • Because Google is smart and you are dumb. Google knows data and spends more time that you and I have combined compiling data. It knows who is searching for what and how often. But their hard work can help you choose the best search terms to focus on for your web content.
    • Same but Different. Google will show you synonyms and other related phrases (proof that Google is smarter than you and me). You might type in dog supplies online, but it will also give you the following:Keywords
  • Be specific. I don’t know about you, but when I look for things online, I’m rarely looking for “dog supplies.” I’m looking for a medium Furminator brush. Being generic in Search Engineville is the kiss of death. The more specific you can be, the better for your web copy and behind-the scenes meta data. Here’s a hierarchy as to what your keyword selection should look like from your home page on down:
    • Home Page: general keywords (online pet supplies).
    • Internal Pages: more specific keywords (online cat supplies/online dog supplies)
    • Sub Pages: even more specific keywords (cat litter boxes/online cat food/cat scratching posts)
    • Category-Specific Pages: very specific (Furminator brushes)
    • Product Specific Pages: freakin’ specific (Furminator dog brush/Furminator cat brush/Furminator Medium)
    • The goal is to drive traffic with your web copy and meta data to the point where a site visitor doesn’t have to dig through your site to get what they want. If you’ve ever left Target because you couldn’t find what you were looking for, Target failed in its marketing. More websites than not do this very (bad) thing.

So, you’re doing keyword research. Awesome. Start a spreadsheet with what you’ve found or just make a list in a document that you can keep handy. This information helps a copywriter (an SEO-savvy copywriter, not one that’s used to working with print medium or is a wiz at editorial work) understand your products and business. Your SEO copywriter (if any good) will then take that list and do a little digging of their own and then be better able to craft web copy that works for both the search engines and your business instead of just giving you what anyone is capable of: word on a web page.

SEO copywriting takeways for today regarding keyword research and selection:

  • Think like your customers and figure out what they’re typing into Google.
  • Check out your competitors – there’s nothing wrong with finding out what already works (and doesn’t)
  • Test your results with free online resources like Google’s Keyword Tool (because it’s smarter than we are)
  • Understand where to use general keywords and where to get more specific
  • Make a list of your research to help the other key professionals in your web campaign understand your business, your products and you target audience.

Next Monday, tune in for the reason your web copy needs a pool boy and a plumber. It’s called specialization of labor, and SEO copywriting will get your web content tuned-in like a well-staffed corporation!

Did you miss installment one in this series? Read Why Your Web Content Isn’t Working.

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3 comments
Paul, copySnips.com
Paul, copySnips.com

Great stuff. If you won't slap me with a wet fish for adding one other tip. I just recently installed analytics on my blog (I'm using Piwik, which is a bit similar to Google Analytics but open source), and it's interesting to keep an eye on how visitors find my blog. Sometimes you'll realize you're doing quite well for a keyword phrase you didn't optimize for. In which case, maybe it's worth optimizing it a bit more for that phrase, or writing a whole new post specifically for that keyphrase. Paul Hancox / copySnips

Paul, copySnips.com
Paul, copySnips.com

Great stuff. If you won't slap me with a wet fish for adding one other tip. I just recently installed analytics on my blog (I'm using Piwik, which is a bit similar to Google Analytics but open source), and it's interesting to keep an eye on how visitors find my blog. Sometimes you'll realize you're doing quite well for a keyword phrase you didn't optimize for. In which case, maybe it's worth optimizing it a bit more for that phrase, or writing a whole new post specifically for that keyphrase. Paul Hancox / copySnips

Soness Stevens
Soness Stevens

Thank you for these great and timely tips as I'm re-branding now! And Paul above, I'll try that, too!

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