The 7 sins of SEO copywriting

Posted by Heather Lloyd-Martin on 4 Oct, 2012
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The 7 Sins of SEO Copywriting from Wordtracker, the leading keyword research tool

Are you an SEO copywriting "sinner"?

You may think that your writing is so SEO-perfect that the Google angels sing when they spider it. But are you sure that your angelic writing doesn't contain some devilish SEO content mistakes? If you're writing content using outdated or incorrect strategies, you may be committing sins without even realizing it.

Don't put your content (and conversions) at risk. Check out the seven most common SEO copywriting sins.

Little red devil

Thou shalt not write to a certain word count because "it's how you have to do it for Google."

A very common misconception is that your web pages should be a certain word count "for Google." I've even had people call and say, "I heard that Google rewards pages that are at least 500 words - so I need ten blog posts that are exactly 500 words per page." Here's a news flash: Google really doesn't care about your word count. If you find yourself trying to meet some mythical word count, relax. How long should your content be? As long as it needs to be to fully explain the topic and encourage the desired conversion.

Thou shalt not focus on a keyword density percentage.

Please, can we let this one die? If you're new to SEO and don't know what keyphrase density is, it's the number of times you mention the keyword divided by the page's total word count. A higher percentage was supposedly "better for Google" (although all those keyphrases typically made the page sound choppy and weird.) Matt Cutts produced a video about this very topic last year. However, I still see some folks convinced that shoving keyphrases into the copy will help. It won't. Trust me. Get over it.

Thou shalt not upload crap writing just because you can.

Sure, the Panda update did downgrade of a lot of "thin," poorly-written page that were stuffed with keyphrases. At the same time, I still see companies upload blog posts that look like they were written in five minutes by a third grader. Does this help conversions? Nope. If anything, bad content reflects poorly on your brand. Yes, you want to constantly upload new content. But that content needs to be good.

Thou shalt not write sales content that focuses on features rather than benefits.

Everything you write should focus on "what's in it for the reader." If you focus your content solely on features (for instance, product dimensions) and ignore the benefits (how your product helps your customers) you can say goodbye to sales. People buy on emotion, so your copy needs to paint a picture - not get bogged down in benefit-free details. Good sales copy is good from an SEO perspective, too. The more reader-centered your content, the more folks who will share it, like it and link to it.

Thou shalt not provide a small amount of information on your site figuring that "customers will call if they want more information."

Your website is your 24/7 sales team. If your prospects don't find the information they need to see, they won't necessarily call or email. In fact, they'll probably just hit the back button and check out your competitors instead. You don't want to put every single detail on a long scrolling page, but you do want to showcase your stuff.

Thou shalt not ignore your page titles

What's your first opportunity for conversion? The search engine results page. That means that your Titles (the blue clickable link) need to be written like headlines for maximum impact. Yes, include keyphrases. But carefully consider what would "get the click" and differentiate you from the other results.

Thou shalt not write boring copy

Writing should be fun - whether you're writing a blog post, creating a sales landing page, or penning an article. When you’re writing is so boring that even you zone out while writing it - don't you think that whoever’s reading it feels the same way? Put some personality pizzaz into your writing. Think about what would make your reader lock on to your content and hungrily devour every word. The more you talk about what's important to your readers the more you'll connect with your audience - and the better results you'll get from your content.

What other SEO copywriting sins would you add to this list?

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