SEO Copywriting: The Definitive Guide

SEO Copywriting:The Definitive Guide

This is the most comprehensive guide to SEO copywriting online.

In this new guide you’ll learn how to write content that users AND search engines love.

(Including lots of advanced strategies that I’ve never shared anywhere before.)

Let’s dive right in:

Chapter 1: Intro to SEO Copywriting

What Is SEO Copywriting?

SEO copywriting is the practice of producing keyword-optimized content that’s designed to appeal to human users and search engine algorithms.

In other words:

SEO copywriting is writing content that Google can understand. And, at the same time, that content needs to be the type of content that people want to read, link to and share.

So, if you write content ONLY for Google, your content can sound super robotic.

Content Written For Search Engines Robotic

But if you write content ONLY for readers, your page probably won’t contain important keywords that people use.

Content Written For Users And Not Optimized

It’s a tough balance.

But if you want to master SEO in 2020, you need to be good at both.

Content Optimized For Users And Search Engines

How Does Copywriting Help With SEO?

When most people hear the word “copywriting” they think of stuff like this.

Old Newspaper Copywriting

The truth is, copywriting isn’t just for ads from the 1950s. Or long-form sales letters.

In fact, great copywriting can directly lead to higher Google rankings.

How?

Well, take Blog Post A.

Post Optimized For SEO

It’s optimized with the traditional on-page SEO stuff that we all know and love.

But the writing itself is only so-so.

We also have Blog Post B.

Post Optimized For User And SEO

Like Blog Post A, Blog Post B is optimized around SEO keywords.

But it’s ALSO super well written.

And because Blog Post B combines SEO with compelling copy, Blog post B is going to rack up a ton of key search engine ranking signals, like:

  • More backlinks
  • Low bounce rate
  • High Dwell Time
  • Above average click through rate
  • Lots of social shares
  • Comments/community

Which means, at the end of the day, Blog Post B is going to CRUSH Blog Post A.

Posts Optimized For Users And SEO Ranking

How SEO Copywriting Helped Backlinko Grow

Knowing SEO is great.

Knowing copywriting is great.

But when you can do BOTH?

You’ve got a powerful one-two punch.

In fact, SEO copywriting is one of the main reasons that Backlinko grew so quickly in a highly competitive niche.

Backlinko – Growth In Competitive Niche

For example, when Backlinko first launched, most SEO posts were SUPER technical, like this:

SEO Blogs Used To Be Really Technical

Sure, these posts were optimized to rank for specific keywords. But they weren’t written for living, breathing people.

Which is why I made sure to publish content that hooked readers right off the bat:

Backlinko – Content That Hooks Readers Right Off The Bat

Explained things in plain English:

Backlinko – Explain Things In Plain English

And made SEO more accessible to people that weren’t pro developers:

Backlinko – Content That Speaks To Non Developers

In other words: my copy was optimized for users and Google.

And in the rest of this guide I’ll show you exactly how to do it.

Starting with Chapter 2…

Chapter 2: Use SEO Copywriting to Boost UX Signals

One of the big buzzwords in SEO right now is “UX Signals”.

In other words:

This is Google evaluating content quality using bounce rate, time on site and pogo sticking.

SEO experts agree that content with positive UX signals rank better.

(The opposite is also true: content with bad UX signals will struggle to rank).

And in this chapter, Chapter 2, you’ll learn how SEO copywriting can help you optimize for key UX signals.

Structure Your Content The Right Way

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?

Udemy – Content Structure

(In case you’re not familiar with Udemy, it’s a platform with thousands 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 type in a keyword.

For example, let’s say you were writing a blog post about photography. You’d search for “photography”:

Udemy – Photography Category

Udemy will show you all of their popular photography courses:

Next, pick a course with a lot of reviews.

Here’s one:

Udemy – Course With A Lot Of Reviews

Once you pick a course, take a look at how many people have enrolled.

As you can see, over 149,314 people have enrolled in this photography course:

Udemy – Number Of Students Enrolled

Do you see how huge this is?

You’re looking at content that 149,314 people have PAID to access.

That means you don’t need to rely on your Spidey sense to figure out what people want.

Thousands of people have already voted…with their wallets.

Now:

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 blog post:

Udemy – Course Content

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:

Udemy – Course Content Ideas

Add “Bucket Brigades” To Your Content

When someone lands on your site from a search engine, two things can happen:

1. They leave right away.

2. They stick around and keep reading.

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? Google will drop you like a stone.

Question is:

How do you keep people from bouncing?

Bucket Brigades.

You may notice that I tend to use short sentences that end in a colon, like this:

That’s a Bucket Brigade.

So: what are Bucket Brigades, exactly?

Bucket Brigades are an old school copywriting tactic that were originally designed for sales letters.

I’ve adapted Bucket Brigades for SEO content. And they work REALLY well.

For example here’s the time on page for a post with lots of Bucket Brigades:

Bucket Brigade Average Time On Page

All you need to do is find a spot in your content where someone might hit their browser’s “back” button.

Then, add a Bucket Brigade.

Here’s an example:

Where To Place Bucket Brigade

Rinse and repeat until you have around 5 Bucket Brigades per post.

You can make up your own Bucket Brigades… or you can use these tried-and-true classics:

  • Here’s the deal:
  • Now:
  • 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?

The APP Method

You just learned that Bucket Brigades can help improve your average time on page.

Now it’s to show you another technique that keeps Google users from clicking away:

The APP Method.

App Blog Post Introduction

As you can see in the graphic, “APP” stands for: Agree, Promise, and Preview.

Let’s break each element down:

First, we have Agree.

This is an idea or concept that a Google searcher will agree with.

This shows them that you understand their problem.

Here’s an example:

App Agree Example

Most people searching for my target keyword (“SEO tips”) are frustrated with SEO techniques that don’t work.

So by emphasizing that mine “actually” work, it shows that I feel their pain there.

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.

App Promise Example

Finally, hit them with The Preview.

Here’s where you tell your reader exactly what you have in store for them.

App Preview Example

Chapter 3: Optimize Your Content With SEO Copywriting

It’s no secret that “adding keywords to your content” is still an important SEO best practice.

That said:

SEO copywriting today is MUCH more than just using your target keyphrase a handful of times on each page.

To rank for competitive keywords in 2020, you need to use advanced SEO copywriting strategies.

Lucky for you, that’s exactly what I’m going to cover in this chapter.

Let’s dive in.

Use Title Tag Modifiers

If you want more traffic from long tail keywords, the solution is simple:

Title Tag Modifiers.

What are they?

Title Tag Modifiers are words that you add to your title tag that are designed to rank for long tail keywords.

Here’s a mini case study of this strategy in action:

A while back I published a guide called “Link Building: The Definitive Guide“.

Link Building The Definitive Guide

And the title tag I used was simply the name of the guide:

Title Tag Is 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:

SEO Added To Title Tag

Thanks to that simple tweak, my page ranks for a handful of “bonus” keywords, like “link building SEO” (150 searches/month):

Link Building SEO SERP

And “SEO link building” (400 searches/month):

SEO Link Building SERP

How can you do the same thing?

First, find a page on your site that has a short title tag (between 25-40 characters).

Then add one or two of these modifiers from this list:

  • “How to…”
  • The current year
  • Review
  • Best
  • Fast
  • Checklist
  • Guide
  • Tips
  • Easy
  • Simple

You won’t be able to predict exactly what keywords these modifiers will rank for.

But you’ll get more search engine traffic than you would without them.

And that’s what really matters 🙂

Add LSI Keywords To Your Blog Content

Today’s AI-powered Google doesn’t care how many times you stuff a keyword into your post.

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.

Google Now Aims To Find The Overall Topic

To find LSI keywords, just search for the keyword that you want to rank for. And scroll to the bottom of the first page. This is where Google shows you “searches related to…” keywords:

Searches Related To Keto Diet

Because these terms come straight from Google, they’re PERFECT LSI keywords to add to your content.

Use SEO Copywriting to Get More Traffic to Ecommerce Product and Category Pages

With Amazon dominating Google’s first page, it’s not easy for smaller ecommerce sites to rank.

Despite that fact, I still see tiny ecommerce sites beat the odds.

Their secret?

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 run an ecommerce site that sells dog food.

You’d search for “dog food” in Amazon:

Dog Food Search 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):

Amazon Long Tail Keywords List

Grab one of those suggestions and pop it into Google.

Dog Food For Small Dogs Google Search

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:

Long Tail Keywords Are Less Competitive

(As you can see above, the Ahrefs Keyword Difficulty of the top 10 results for “dog food” is 400% higher than the similar, long tail keyword)

And because Amazon Suggest keywords are laser-targeted, they tend to convert well too.

Finally, sprinkle those keywords into your product and category page copy (and in your title and description tags):

Chapter 4: Boost Your Organic Click Through Rate

Is organic CTR a legit Google ranking factor?

Yup!

Even if it wasn’t, improving your CTR is one of the few ways that you can get more organic traffic (without needing higher rankings).

And in this chapter I’m going to show you how to make your site a click magnet.

Use Emotion In Your Titles (But Not Too Much)

Industry studies have found that emotional headlines=higher CTR.

Emotional Headlines Drive Facebook Interactions

The thing is, most of these studies look at click through rate on social media. This data may not apply to user behavior on Google.

In fact, our recent analysis of 5M Google search results found that emotionally-charged title tags can help CTR.

Emotional Titles Have A Higher Organic Click Through Rate

But only to a point. Once the title veers into clickbait territory, CTR plummets.

Power words in title tags were correlated with lower CTR

The bottom line here is that you want your title tags and descriptions to have some emotional sentiment (positive or negative both work).

But if you go overboard, Google searchers are going to skip right over your site in the SERPs.

Sell Your Content In Your Meta Description

Google’s own data has found that well-written descriptions can lead to more clicks.

Google Suggests Well Written Descriptions Can Improve Clicks From SERPs

Even though Google doesn’t always display your description in the search results, it’s worth writing a strong meta description for every page.

That way, when they DO use your description, it really sells your content.

Here’s an example:

Link Building Guide SERP Description

Test Out Questions in Your Title Tags

That same study I just mentioned found that question-based title tags have a 14% higher CTR vs. titles without a question.

Question titles have a 14.1% higher organic CTR .vs. Non-question titles

Now: it obviously doesn’t make sense to use a question in every single title tag.

But it’s worth testing out.

For example, if you search for “social media marketing”, the #1 result uses a question in their title.

Social Media Marketing SERP

Chapter 5: Create Your Own Keywords

In this chapter I’m going to reveal one of my all-time favorite SEO copywriting strategies:

Creating your own keywords.

This single strategy has directly led to hundreds of backlinks and tens of thousands of visitors to my site.

And today I’m going to show you how it’s done.

Why Creating Your Own Keywords Helps With SEO

If you search for your brand in Google, you probably rank #1.

Backlinko – Search Ranking

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.

For example:

You’ve probably heard about The Skyscraper Technique, my 3-step formula for getting more organic traffic to your site.

The Skyscraper Technique

Because I branded my strategy “The Skyscraper Technique”, I now have a pipeline of extra visitors coming to my site every day.

In fact, according to Google Search Console, the keyword “Skyscraper Technique” (and close variations of that term) get 2,030 searches per month:

The Skyscraper Technique – Searches Per Month

And because I rank #1 for that keyword (and appear in the answer box), I get the lion’s share of those 2,030 clicks.

Now:

The Skyscraper Technique is my most successful created keyword.

But it’s not the only one.

For example, take “The Content Upgrade”.

Backlinko – The Content Upgrade

The Content Upgrade quickly went from a little-known technique that I used to get more email subscribers to something that blogs starting writing about left and right.

Content Upgrade Post Examples

But traffic isn’t the only way that creating your own keywords can improve your SEO.

Creating keywords can also lead to more backlinks.

That’s because people will link to you whenever they mention your concept.

For example, whenever a blogger writes about The Skyscraper Technique, they usually link back to me:

The Skyscraper – Technique Backlinks

Develop a Strategy, Approach or Concept

So the first thing you need to do is come up with a strategy, approach, or concept that’s unique to you. And give it a name.

The Skyscraper Technique is a good example of this.

I took an approach that already existed (improving on existing content) and added a third step that made it more effective for link building.

The Skyscraper Technique Additional Third Step

But it’s far from the only one.

For example, in the marketing world, lots of things we take for granted started off as concepts that someone made up:

  • Blogs
  • Inbound Marketing (HubSpot created this one)
  • Chatbots
  • Influencer marketing
  • Conversion Rate Optimization
  • Digital marketing

In many cases, these things existed for years. But it didn’t become a thing until someone gave it a name.

In other words: when you name something, it becomes real.

Now, there’s no perfect formula for giving something a catchy, memorable name. But it is important that you name your idea.

Spread The Word

You can’t just name your strategy and call it a day.

In fact, I’ve seen lots of people create their own strategies. And they rarely get off the ground.

Sometimes it’s because their strategy wasn’t that original in the first place. But more times than not, they didn’t hustle to get the word out.

And if you’re serious about turning your idea into a keyword that people search for, you need to promote the heck out of it.

For example, when I first developed The Skyscraper Technique, I went all out to spread the word.

I published a case study that outlined the steps:

The Skyscraper Technique – Outline Steps

I mentioned The Skyscraper Technique in guest posts:

The Skyscraper Technique – Guest Post Mention

I went on podcasts to talk about how it worked:

The Skyscraper Technique – Podcast Mention

I even made an entire YouTube video about that strategy.

Then, as people started to use The Skyscraper Technique to get more traffic, I featured their stories on the Backlinko blog.

White Hat SEO Featured Story

Which eventually helped The Skyscraper Technique become a thing.

Chapter 6: Advanced SEO Copywriting Strategies

Let’s close out this guide with a list of my favorite SEO copywriting tips, strategies and techniques.

In this chapter you’ll learn:

  • How to create compelling URLs
  • An easy way to get more social shares
  • How to find lots of untapped long tail keywords
  • Rank in the Featured Snippet “#0” position
  • And more

Use Short URLs That Contain a Keyword That You Want to Rank For

Can short URLs really help your site rank higher in Google?

Our search engine ranking factors study found a significant correlation between short URLs and higher Google rankings.

URL Length_line

And URLs that contain a keyword get more clicks.

Keyword-rich URLs correlate with a higher organic CTR

The bottom line here is that you want to write your URLs to be short and keyword-rich.

For example, the URL for this list of SEO tools is just: /seo-tools.

SEO Tools URL

And the URL for this guide to email marketing is my keyword with “guide” added to the end:

Email Marketing Guide URL

Note: Are your URLs already long? I don’t recommend going back and changing them. It can cause serious technical SEO issues. Just apply this rule to future pages that you publish.

Find Untapped Topic Ideas With BuzzSumo’s “Discover Topics”

This is a little-known feature inside of BuzzSumo that I really like.

To use it, type in a topic idea just like you normally would.

BuzzSumo – Paleo Diet Topic Results

What’s cool about this feature is that it doesn’t just hand you variations of the keyword you typed in. It’s much more advanced than that.

Instead of variations, BuzzSumo’s Discover Topics gives you laterally-related topic ideas. For example, if you search for “paleo diet”, it suggests topics like “healthy eating” “MCT oil” and “gluten free diet”.

BuzzSumo – Paleo Diet Laterally Related Topic Ideas

Very cool.

Try Click to Tweet Buttons

Sure, social sharing buttons can help you get more shares.

But they’re usually not enough.

And if you want to get more shares from every post that you publish, I recommend trying Click To Tweet Buttons.

For example, a while back I published a post called: “List Building Strategies to Help Build Your Email List”.

Backlinko – List Building Post

To maximize the number of shares this post got, I included a “click to tweet” button underneath each item on the list:

To date, my post has over 6600 social shares.

Link Building Strategies – Social Shares

And a good chunk of those 6681 shares came from my “click to tweet” buttons:

Twitter Share

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”:

Click To Tweet – Basic Link Tool

Turn your actionable tip into a tweet:

Click To Tweet Add Actionable Tip

Then, click on “Generate new link”.

Click To Tweet New Link Generated

And pop the link into your post.

Pop The Link Into Your Post

That’s all there is to it.

Add “Snippet Bait” Sections To Your Content

This is where you add sections to your content that’s specifically designed to rank as a Featured Snippet.

Here’s an example:

Backlinko – Rich Snippets

You can technically put Snippet Bait sections anywhere on your page. But I prefer to place them towards the top of the page.

Why?

I think that Google probably puts a little bit more weight on them if they’re that high up.

Add Snippet Bait Sections To Your Content

Plus, it gives users a quick answer to their question as soon as they land on your site.

Either way, my experiments have found that using Snippet Bait dramatically boosts the odds that your site will rank in the Featured Snippet “#0” spot in Google:

Backlinko – SE0 Content Featured Snippet

Conclusion

Conclusion

So that’s it for my guide to SEO copywriting.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

What tip from today’s post are you going to try first?

Do you want to try Click To Tweet buttons?

Or maybe you want to use Bucket Brigades.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below.

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