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Google doesn’t disclose specifics about how it ranks web content. It tells us it uses over 200 criterion, but the ranking algorithm itself is a well-kept secret.
For that reason and others, SEO copywriting best practices can’t and don’t guarantee a top ranking in Google’s search results. Nor can they promise a high click-thru or conversion rate.
That said, SEO best practices do demonstrate a pattern of repeated success over time. They’re the next best thing to getting specific direction from Google and it makes sense to embrace them.
Best Practice Sources
The SEO copywriting best practices in this post are derived from:
- published SEO industry expert research and opinion;
- Google’s published search engine guidelines.
They’re intended primarily for small business owners, website developers and SEO copywriters although anyone that writes content for the Web should find them useful.
SEO Copywriting Best Practices
- Write content for your human audience, not search engines. Make sure it is well-organized, clearly written, complete, accurate, unique, and valuable. Google says to give “visitors the information they’re looking for”, “provide high-quality content on your pages”, and it is “the single most important thing to do.”
- Write content consistent with the overall theme of your site. If your site is about pizza, write about pizza and complementary products and services. Don’t write about pet waste removal.
- Focus on one topic per page or post. If you need to expand on a related topic, write a separate page or post and link to it or a reputable external source. Linking to outside relevant and respected sources also helps your rankings.
- Create only one page or post per specific topic so you don’t confuse search engines about which page to rank higher. Don’t, for example, create multiple pages that all contain the same or very similar content and just swap out the name of the geographic location you’re targeting. Make sure each page or post is uniquely valuable.
- Aim for a minimum of 300 words per page excluding menu items, sidebars, comments, and footer text. While substance and clarity should be your primary concern, longer is usually better. Content with 1,500+ words tends to earn the most exposure.
- Make the page easy to scan by using lots of white space, headings, subheadings, and bullet points. Draw attention to key points by using a bold and/or italic font, just don’t overdo it.
- Include visuals – high-quality charts, images, photos and/or videos. It improves reader enjoyment, understanding, retention, and clickthru rates.
- Feature your most important keywords high on the page (in the first sentence or paragraph if possible), in the middle and towards the end.
- Use your primary keyword phrase (the one you most want to rank for):- 2-3 times on short pages;
– 4-6 times on longer ones;
– once in the main (H1) heading;
– in subheadings (H2-6) however many times it makes sense without overdoing it.
- Use synonyms and related words and phrases also where it makes sense. It strengthens the relevance of your content and helps boost your rankings.
- Link to your content from other internal and external pages and posts using your keywords in the link text.
Other Helpful Resources
Don’t know about keyword phrases or how to identify them? Check out SEO Industry Leader Moz’s Guide to Keyword Research. I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to keyword research for small business. There are a variety of helpful posts referenced there.
Using WordPress? This article provides a 12-step process and checklist for on-page SEO (optimizing a page or blog post) using WordPress and the popular and well-respected WordPress For SEO Yoast plugin. SEO copywriting isn’t the same as on-page SEO. On-page SEO is broader in scope and includes things like URL, meta tag, and image alt tag best practices. Using the two together improves your chances for success.
Get a shorter, PDF version of this SEO Copywriting Best Practices post.
Have questions? Use the comment section below and I will respond.