I make a living (part time) from copy-writing. I have recently only been able to say those words aloud, due to a lack of confidence in my abilities. This was largely due to my absence of any professional copy-writing training or formal digital marketing studies. Having said that, I have managed to build up a small client base through very hard work, and an underpinning passion for content creation. It is only now, after positive feedback and client recommendations, that I can confidently categorize myself as a copywriter. I have decided to write a three-part series about the fundamental components of creating good copy; straight from a self-made writer’s mouth! Everything I have learned has been through research and practice; with the aid of the trusty internet! First part up is my take on a simple yet effective approach to SEO and more specifically the keyword.
SEO – A simple model
When I first began to write professionally, I really struggled with SEO. Mainly because I just loved to write engaging copy, and SEO felt so technical and left field for me. I learned quickly however, that to be successful in the copy-writing industry, I needed to learn about SEO. This blog isn’t going to explain what SEO is all about; if that’s what you are after click here. This piece is more concerned with providing you with a nice SEO framework that you can implement before you write your content.
The first step in a good SEO model is to do some keyword research and compile a list of keywords that you think may be relevant to your content. An excel spreadsheet makes a very good visual tool for this exercise. You can sort into categories depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each keyword and eliminate from there. Once you have your broad keyword terms, you will now need to get a bit more specific. For instance, you might have a cookie making company. If you focus all your energies on the keyword cookie, you are very likely to be fighting a losing battle. The term is simply too expansive to gain much user traction, so you really need to nut out more targeted keywords. Perhaps your cookie company produces a “vegan cookie”; this might have a more increased result in page hits, as it is very niche. Of course, working out these medium keywords, (keywords that are less generalised than say a singular keyword like “cookie”,” yet not too specific like a long tail “award winning chocolate chip cookie”) really comes down to knowing what your visitor wants. This takes me to the next part of your SEO model.
User intent refers to those reasons that your user has stopped by for a visit. Keeping with the cookie business model, it is safe to assume that your visitor is seeking cookies, right? Wrong. Well sort of. Yes, in a broad sense they are after the sweet stuff, but what is it that they are after? Maybe its corporate offerings, personalised cookies, delivery options, or a location address. They might have heard that you do an awesome cookie cake and are seeking the specifics on this godly dessert. Once you have worked out the content that the user is after (and again, there is no easy way to do this, save for research, research and more research), you are better able to craft your sub categories of keywords.
So, we have examined our web user’s needs, and now we need to look at our own. A cookie business will have a very strong objective to sell, so building your content to drive sales will be an obvious one. But it’s not all going to be about sales; you are likely to have other objectives, such as building your newsletter email list, increasing brand awareness or even recruiting new staff. So, on a broad spectrum, yes, your starting point for SEO will be your simple word “cookie”, but you will start to umbrella different terms and phrases from this word. And cookie leads me on nicely to the next point of discussion in our simple SEO methodology, which is breadcrumbs!
I’l start with an example – cookie -> chocolate chip cookies ->best chocolate chip cookies in Sydney
Here is a simple overview of our broad word, medium keywords and then a long tail phrase. The idea is that this breadcrumb approach starts with the generalised phrase keyword, but then feeds off into these little subsections. You might for example have a very broad company overview, which tells the story of your cookies, but perhaps you link to another page which talks about your chocolate chip variety, and other page that recognises your award for the best choc chip cookie in Sydney. Importantly, this model is successful in driving traffic, as you are targeting those who search generally and those who are very specific in what they are seeking. Each page will have internal link to another, thus increasing page hits. Most notable though, is Google loves this breadcrumb model as it is very easy for the little creepy crawlers to sort and rank the pages.
So now that the technical part is out of the way, you can start to do what you love which is to promote your business, and drive sales or awareness through great content creation. The SEO model helps to better structure your content, and keeps you on topic. As I always advise, do not stuff your content with keywords to the point that it makes no sense. But if you can use multiple key words or phrases in a single block of content, and it feels organic and adds value to your user, then go for it! At the end of the day, content is king, and SEO compliments it, but shouldn’t dominate.
Is this SEO model workable for you? I would love to hear your opinions! Next week I am going to discuss how I have built a (semi) successful copy-writing portfolio and client base, while working full time. Budding writers, you won’t want to miss this one.