Knowing SEO is great.
Knowing copywriting is great.
But when you can do BOTH?
That’s when you can slap a giant “S” on your chest…
…because you’ll be unstoppable.
And today I have something that will make you feel like you have SEO superpowers:
16 insanely actionable SEO copywriting tips that you can use right now.
Free Bonus: Click here to get access to a free PDF checklist that shows you how to execute all 16 of the techniques from this post (the checklist also includes 2 bonus strategies).
Most people think SEO copywriting is all about putting words after words.
But in my experience, the STRUCTURE of your content is just as important as the writing itself.
And what better place to find proven content structures than Udemy?
(In case you’re not familiar with Udemy, it’s a MASSIVE directory of online courses)
Here’s how you can use Udemy to make your next piece of content 2-3x more compelling:
First, head over to Udemy and enter a keyword.
For example, let’s say you were writing a blog post about photography. You’d search for “photography”:
Udemy will show you all of their popular photography courses:
Next, pick a course with a lot of reviews.
Let’s go with the EasyDSLR Digital Photography Course for Beginners:
Once you pick a course, take a look at how many people have already enrolled in it.
As you can see, nearly 6,000 people have enrolled in the EasyDSLR course:
Do you see how huge this is?
You’re looking at content that 6,000 people have shelled out cold hard cash to get access to.
That means you don’t need to rely on your Spidey sense. You KNOW there’s going to be demand for your content.
Thousands of people have already voted…with their wallets.
Once you’ve found a popular course, scroll down to the “Curriculum” section.
That’s where you’ll find the proven structure you can use for your next post, video or infographic:
Obviously, you don’t want to rip off the instructor’s course.
But you can use bits and pieces of the curriculum for your outline:
Now that you have your outline, it’s almost time to put pen to paper.
Before you do, make sure to read the next technique on my list…
When someone lands on your site from a search engine, two things can happen:
They either leave right away…
…or they stick around.
And when people stick on your page like superglue, Google thinks:
“This is a great page. Let’s give it a rankings boost.”
But when people leave your site like a sinking ship…
That’s when Google drops you like a stone.
The bottom line?
If you want higher rankings, you NEED to keep people on your site.
How? Bucket Brigades.
Bucket Brigades are words and phrases that keep people on your page.
You may notice that I tend to use short sentences that end in a colon, like this:
That’s a Bucket Brigade.
But what are Bucket Brigades, exactly?
Bucket Brigades are an old school copywriting tactic that were originally designed to keep people reading sales letters.
I’ve adapted Bucket Brigades for SEO content and the results are, well, crazy.
In fact, here’s Backlinko’s average time on page:
Yes, that’s 4 minutes.
A good chunk of that above-average Time on Page is due to the fact that I sprinkle Bucket Brigades into every post.
Now it’s time for me to show you how to use Bucket Brigades to boost your Time on Page:
First, find a place in your content where someone’s likely to hit their browser’s “back” button…
…and add a Bucket Brigade.
Start with your intro.
Here’s an example where I used two Bucket Brigades in my intro:
(By the way, the Time On Page for that post is over 7-minutes):
You also want to use Bucket Brigades in the middle of your content.
Here’s an example from one of my recent case studies:
Bottom line: whenever you have a section where someone may get bored and leave, add a Bucket Brigade.
You can make up your own Bucket Brigades, like I did in the example above (“The secret to publishing content that people want to share is this:”).
Or you can use these tried-and-true Bucket Brigade classics:
- Here’s the deal:
- What’s the bottom line?
- You might be wondering:
- This is crazy:
- It gets better/worse:
- But here’s the kicker:
- Want to know the best part?
And — bada bing, bada boom — you’re set.
Once you’ve added a few Bucket Brigades, move onto technique #3…
Today’s super-smart Google doesn’t care how many times you cram a keyword into your article.
Instead, it pays close attention to Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
(LSI keywords are a fancy way of saying: “synonyms and closely related words”)
And these LSI keywords help Google understand what your page is all about.
For example, let’s say you do a Google search for “cars”.
How does Google know whether you’re searching for:
- Cars the vehicle
- Cars the movie
- The 1970s rock band (with awful hair)
- The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs)
The answer? LSI keywords.
For example, when Google sees a page with LSI keywords like this…
…they know the page is about the cars you drive.
But when Google sees a page like this…
…they know it’s about Cars the movie.
So how can you add more LSI keywords into your content?
I’ll explain with an example:
Let’s say your keyword was “laptop repair”.
First, search for that keyword in Google:
Then, scan the page for bold words and phrases that aren’t your primary keyword.
Here are some examples from the first page for “laptop repair”:
See how Google bolds words like “notebook”, “computer repair”, and “fix”?
Google bolds those terms because it considers them VERY similar to the keyword you just searched for.
(In other words, LSI keywords)
Finally, sprinkle these bold terms into your content:
Once you’re done, you’re ready for secret #4.
Bold promise? Definitely.
But stay with me.
What’s the big secret I’m talking about?
Creating your own keywords.
If you search for your brand in Google, you probably rank #1.
You may not have thought about it, but your brand is a keyword…
…a keyword that you automatically rank #1 for.
But why stop there?
You can generate boatloads of extra organic traffic when you also brand your techniques and strategies.
You’ve probably heard about The Skyscraper Technique, my 3-step strategy for getting more organic traffic to your site.
Because I branded my strategy “The Skyscraper Technique”, I now have a pipeline of extra visitors coming to my site everyday.
In fact, according to Google Search Console, the keyword “Skyscraper Technique” gets 1,103 searches per month:
Because I rank #1, #2 AND #3 for that keyword, I get the lion’s share of those 1,103 clicks:
Whenever you develop a unique strategy, tactic, or technique…
…make sure you slap a branded name on it.
When you do, you’ll get a bunch of extra organic search traffic.
A while back I published a post called, “Why Google Hates Your Site (Hint: It Has Something to Do With TrustRank)“:
With this post I decided to go after a keyword that my competitors wouldn’t bother targeting…
…even though it gets a decent amount of searches.
What was the keyword?
“Google hates my site”
Believe it or not, I didn’t pull this keyword out of thin air.
I chose this keyword because I saw A LOT of people in SEO forums saying things like this:
And if people post something in a forum, you can bet your butt that they also search for the same thing in Google.
So I decided to use a variation of that keyword in my post:
Today, besides ranking #2 for my target keyword (“TrustRank”)…
…when someone searches for “Google hates my site”, I show up in the top spot:
How can you use this technique to get more traffic?
First, optimize your page just like you normally would (If you need a hand, check out these 14 advanced on-page SEO strategies).
But before you hit “publish”, scan forums for words and phrases people tend to use around your topic.
For example, let’s say your primary keyword was “organic vegetable gardening”.
You’d search in Google with inurl:forum + “organic vegetable gardening”:
This will bring up a bunch forum threads around the topic of vegetable gardening:
Skim the first few threads that you find.
When you see a phrase that seems like a good fit…
…search for forum + “phrase” in Google:
If a lot of results pop up (like with this example), add those words and phrases to your post.
And you’re good to go.
Here’s the deal:
Sure, social sharing buttons help you get more shares…
…but in most cases, they’re not enough.
Instead, I recommend tapping into a copywriter’s best friend:
A call to action.
Let me explain.
A few months back I published a post called “17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today“:
To maximize the amount of shares this post got, I included a “click to tweet” button underneath each item on the list:
To date, my post has over 2600 tweets…
…and a good chunk of those 2600 tweets came from my “click to tweet” buttons:
Here’s how you can do the same thing:
First, find a super actionable tip or strategy from your post.
Next, head over to ClickToTweet.com. Click on “basic link”:
Turn your actionable tip into a tweet:
Then, click on “Generate new link”.
Grab the link…
…and pop the link into your post.
You can use buttons like I did. But plain-text links also work great:
Whether you use a button or a plain link, definitely add at least one “click to tweet” call to action in your next post.
Here’s something we can both agree on:
The higher you rank, the more clicks you get, right?
Right now Backlinko ranks #1 in Google for two different keywords: “how to do CPA marketing” and “how to find long tail keywords” :
(Obviously I rank #1 for more than just those two keywords. These are just 2 examples 🙂 )
Both keywords are “how-to” keywords.
Both keywords have ads above the organic results.
Yet the click through rate for “how to do CPA marketing” is 49% higher than “how to find long tail keywords”:
Here’s the simple explanation:
My Google listing for “how to do CPA marketing” looks WAY better than “how to find long tail keywords”.
Just look at how clean and enticing this looks:
It’s got a clear title and compelling description copy.
On the other hand, my long tail keyword listing is a big mess.
The title tag is cut off and the description tag is a random snippet from the page. Not good.
I’ll have another powerful technique to boost your organic click through rate later in this post…
…but for now, follow these 2 simple steps:
First, make sure you write your own description tag for every important page on your site.
If you don’t, Google will sometimes write funky descriptions for you.
So pop open your SEO plugin of choice. Then, write a unique description tag for each important page on your site.
Next, tweak your title and description so that it emphasizes the here and now.
When someone does a Google search they want answers…FAST.
And when you show them that you’ll give them a quick win, you get more clicks.
For example, here’s the Google result for my list building post:
See how my title and description emphasize fast results not once…but twice?
That’s exactly what you want to do.
Once you’ve finished that 2-step process, it’s time for SEO copywriting secret #8.
With giants like Amazon littering the first page, it’s not easy running an ecommerce site to practice effective SEO.
Despite that fact, I still see a lot of small ecommerce sites beat the odds.
They target long tail keywords that most of their competitors don’t know about.
Here’s how they do it (and how you can do the same thing):
First, search for a product that you sell on Amazon.
For example, let’s say you ran an ecommerce site that sold organic dog food.
You’d search for “organic dog food” in Amazon:
But don’t hit enter!
If you wait a second, Amazon will show you long tail keywords related to that keyword (just like Google Suggest):
Grab one of those keywords and pop it into Google.
Check to see if the first page for the long tail keyword is less competitive than the one you’re currently targeting.
Usually, it will be:
And because Amazon Suggest keywords are so laser-targeted, they tend to convert GREAT.
Finally, sprinkle those keywords into your product and category page copy (and in your title and description tags):
As soon as you’ve added long tail copy to your product and category pages, move onto the next SEO copywriting secret on the list.
You probably already know that subheadings make your content MUCH easier to read.
For example, here are two screenshots from two different posts:
Which would you rather read?
But what you may not know is that the copy that you use in your subheaders is a BIG deal.
You see, most people use random subheaders like this:
Sure, that breaks up the content alright.
But random subheaders won’t make a visitor say “wow, there’s a ton of value here”.
Fortunately, there’s a quick fix for that:
Include benefits in your subheaders.
For example, in my post on building an email list, I include benefit-rich copy in most of my subheadings.
Instead of a bland subheading like “Focus On Your Thank You Page”, I put the BENEFIT front and center:
See the difference?
Here’s the action step:
Include a benefit in AT LEAST 25% of the subheadings in your next post.
When you do — BAM! — you’ll instantly boost the perceived value of your content.
If you want more traffic from long tail keywords, the solution is simple:
Add “modifiers” to your title tag.
What are “modifiers”?
Modifiers are words that you add to your title tag…
…words that get your site in front of more long tail searchers.
Here’s little case study of this strategy in action:
A while back I published a guide called “Link Building: The Definitive Guide“.
And the title tag I used was simply the name of the guide:
At the time, I thought to myself:
“This title tag is short and sweet. It also includes my target keyword. This is a great title tag.”
But I was wrong.
I quickly realized that I could get MORE traffic to that page if I added a modifier.
So I added the keyword “SEO” to my title tag:
Thanks to that simple tweak, my page ranks for keywords that I wouldn’t have NEVER thought to optimize around…
…like “SEO link building” (480 searches/month):
And “link building SEO” (90 searches/month):
According to GWT, those two keywords bring in 139 targeted visitors per month.
All from (literally) 28 seconds of work.
How can you do the same thing?
First, find a page on your site that has a short title tag (between 25-40 characters):
Add a word or two to your title tag that you think your audience might use when they search for your target keyword:
If you’re not sure what modifier to include, pick one from this list:
- “How to…”
You won’t be able to predict exactly what keywords these modifiers bring in…
…but you’ll get more search engine traffic than you would without them.
And that’s what really matters 🙂
As you saw earlier, Backlinko rocks an above-average Avg. Time on Page:
I already told you that Bucket Brigades were a big part of the story.
And now I want to show you another technique that makes Google searchers stick to my site like superglue:
One of my battle-tested blog post introduction templates.
And today I’m going to share one of my favorites:
The APP Method.
Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see in the graphic, “APP” stands for: Agree, Promise, and Preview.
Let’s break each element down:
First, we have Agree.
Start your introduction off with an idea or concept that a Google searcher will agree with.
This shows them that you understand their problem.
Here’s an example from my post on creating a Social Squeeze page.
That’s something people searching for my target keyword (“squeeze page”) know to be true.
Now that you’ve got them nodding their head in agreement, it’s time for the Promise.
The Promise is where you give them a peek into a better world.
Here’s an example from my Social Squeeze Page Post:
Finally, hit them with The Preview.
Don’t beat around the bush. Just tell them exactly what you have in store for them.
Once you put the finishing touches on The Preview, you’re set.
You now have an intro that keeps Google readers on your site…
…and a page that Google will want to show to more people.
Like I mentioned in item #3 from this list — the more LSI keywords you embed into your content — the better Google understands what your page is about.
Now I’ve got a mini case study that will show you how to reveal even more LSI keywords that you can use.
A while back I wanted to add a few LSI keywords to my post, “On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page“.
First, I searched for my target keyword (“on page SEO”) in Google:
Next, I scrolled to the bottom of the first page. This is where Google shows you “searches related to…” keywords:
These are PERFECT LSI keywords to include in your content.
I grabbed any LSI keywords that made sense and popped them into my content.
And I was good to go.
This technique has a bonus benefit:
“Searches related to…” keywords help you rank for long tail keywords that may not show up in the Google Keyword Planner:
That means more traffic for you.
Me? I think they’re geniuses.
Their meteoric growth speaks for itself…
Besides, it’s hard NOT to love headlines like these:
And they’ve proven that their headline formulas grab people by the eyeballs.
For example, item #9 from this post may have caught your eye:
The idea for that subheader came from a post on BuzzFeed:
And you can do the same thing.
Just check out some recent posts on BuzzFeed and ViralNova…
…and adapt them for your blog post titles and subheadings.
Obviously, some of their headlines are over the top.
So I’ve put together a few Buzzfeed-style headline templates that grab attention…without going overboard:
- 25 ___ That Will Change The Way You ___
- I Tried ___. And Even I Was Surprised About What Happened Next
- This ___ Makes ___ 10x Better
- Here Are 11 ___ That ____. And They’re Backed By Science
- Use These 20 Simple Hacks For More ____. #5 Is Awesome
- When You Learn About ___ You’ll Never ____ Again
Everyone and their mom knows that subheadings make online content easier to read.
To illustrate how much subheadings help, here’s the example I showed earlier in this post:
If you’re human, you prefer the post on the left.
Subheadings are just ONE way to break up your content.
Magazines use dozens of different techniques to break up walls of text.
Here’s an example from an Inc. magazine I have lying around my apartment:
And when you use the 3 magazine-inspired techniques I’m about to show you, you’ll stop “serial skimmers” in their tracks.
Technique #1: Quote Boxes
Whenever you quote someone, put that quote in a box. Here’s an example from Backlinko:
Technique #2: Sidebar Callouts
This is another magazine staple.
Whenever you have content that complements your post, put it in a callout box.
I use these quite a bit at Backlinko.
Technique #3: Section Banners
This technique a bit more involved…
…but it’ll make your content look über professional.
Just add a custom banner underneath each subheading, like this:
See how nice that looks?
You can get these custom banners made at a freelance site like Upwork.
Or, if you’re in the mood for DIY, Canva works well too.
Now it’s time to show you another proven strategy for attracting more clicks to your site.
Let me show you how it works with a real life example.
Here’s what the listing for one of my posts USED to look like:
Because I was in a rush to get this post out in time, I forgot to write my own title and description tag…
…so Google wrote it for me.
And as you can see, it ain’t pretty.
The title tag was cut off…
…and the description tag made no sense:
Here’s what I did to turn things around:
I included words and phrases from Adwords ads into my title and description tag.
Think about it:
Adwords ads have one goal…to generate clicks.
And through thousands of split tests, the ads you see are (usually) proven click magnets.
I noticed that most of the Adwords ads for the keyword “list building” had the words “email list” or “email lists”.
So I made sure to pop the phrase “email list” into my description tag:
A lot of the Adwords ads I saw also used words like “build” and “grow”:
So I added the word “build” to my description tag too:
And just like that I had a search result that’s MUCH more likely to attract clicks.
You’ve probably heard of HARO, a service that connects journalists and sources.
When a journalist needs a source for a story, he or she sends out a query:
If you reply to a query with top-notch info, you can land mentions from some pretty baller sites.
But that’s not what we’re going to use HARO for today.
Instead, we’re going to use HARO queries to make your SEO more effective.
…and attract more long tail traffic.
First, sign up as a source (it’s free):
Next, choose the HARO lists that fit your business:
You’ll start to get HARO emails from reporters and bloggers looking for sources:
Give each email a once over. Keep an eye out for any topics that you tend to cover on your blog.
When you find one, pay attention to how the journalist phrases the topic.
For example, let’s say that you run a career blog.
And one day you come across this HARO query:
9 times out of 10, the journalist chooses an angle like this because there’s growing interest in that topic.
In other words: people are searching for that topic in Google more and more.
So right off the bat you’ve got a great topic (“Cover Letter Best Practices”) handed to you on silver platter.
But don’t stop there.
Pay close attention to the words and phrases the journalist uses in the query:
Make sure to include similar words and phrases in your content:
And just like that you have a post built to gobble up more long tail traffic.
Now It’s Your Turn
You’ve just seen 16 of my favorite SEO copywriting best practices…
Now it’s time to put these techniques into practice.
The first step?
Click the image below and enter your email to get access to my FREE SEO copywriting checklist PDF.
The checklist has all 16 of the copywriting strategies here…and 2 others that I didn’t have room to include in this post.
Click the image below to download the PDF now.