Writing Web Copy for Users and Search Engines
by Claudia Bruemmer
So you want to write your own Web site copy? If so, there are some simple and not so simple rules you can follow to get good results. Creating a search-engine-friendly Web page is both an art and a delicate balancing act between pleasing the visitors to your site so they read and act on your content, and pleasing the search engine spiders that will index your pages for visibility in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
You've probably heard that it's important to have a unique title and description tag for every page on your site in order to rank well on search engines, and that's true. However, nothing is more important than the quality of your content, so you should start there and then work on titles and descriptions after creating your content.
Write for Visitors and Search Spiders
Writing content that attracts and motivates your site visitors, fulfilling their informational needs and leading them to conversion is your goal. At the same time, you want to write content that is optimized for search engines by using the keywords relevant to your business that search users enter into the query box. Use these keywords judiciously and in a natural, conversational way throughout your text, and you can't go wrong. It is important to satisfy your visitors -- that's your mantra. At the same time, you want them to be able to find you via search, and that's why you need to serve two masters: site visitors and search spiders.
Select Keywords With Care
So how do you go about writing good content for visitors and search engines? Let's assume you have an outline describing the basic pages of your site, beginning with the homepage, the about page, products and services pages, contact us, and any pages specific to your business. The first order of the day is keyword selection.
Selecting your keywords is a time-consuming exercise. The best resource for keyword research is posted on Search Engine Land, written by Danny Sullivan, July 9, 2007.
Doing Keyword Research? Here Are Some Resources to Help (http://searchengineland.com/070709-082957.php)
Two or Three Keywords per Page
Once you have your well-researched list, you want to write copy focusing on two or three keywords per page. Pick the keywords most relevant to your page topic. Discuss one topic per page. Use links to take users to related topics.
It is mandatory to include your targeted keywords in the page title tag and to use these keywords in your copy early on. While it's not mandatory, you also want to include these keywords in your description tag. The search engines use the words in your description tag to create your search listing. Most engines use a snippet from this tag, so mention your keywords up front lest they be truncated.
Use 3-9 words (60-80 characters) maximum in your title tag.
Use 9-12 words of marketing copy (160 characters) in your description tag.
Write With Passion
Write your copy with enthusiasm and sincerity. This is the best way to get the attention of your visitors. Let them know you are a subject-matter expert in your field and tell them everything you want them to know about your company and your products and/or services.
Write a minimum of 250 words for each page, preferably more.
Use illustrations or photos to make your pages attractive and interesting.
Use header tags (h1, h2).
It is important to have both inbound and outbound links on your pages. The links to inner pages from the homepage are useful for visitors and search engines alike. The best way to get your inner pages indexed is to link to them from the homepage and other important pages.
The subject of inbound links is critically important and can be complex. You must conduct a link-building campaign to gain authoritative links to your site. This is a two-fold process. First, your content must be compelling and attractive enough for important sites to link to you. Second, you must actively seek links from relevant sites.
Building links is an important and time-consuming endeavor. The best resource for building links is on Search Engine Land, written by Danny Sullivan, December 18, 2006.
Stop the Freak Out Over Linking
Resources for Writing Web Copy
Marketing & Copywriting Articles by Karon Thackston (http://www.marketingwords.com/articles.html)
Writing Effectively for Search Engines, Plattsburgh State University New York (http://web.plattsburgh.edu/intranet/webresources/seo.php)