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  • 21 On-Site SEO Tips You Can Give to Your Online Copywriter

    Following on from the common questions I get asked by clients theme, I thought it would be useful to look at listing some on-site optimisation and SEO copywriting tips.

    SEO Copywriting
    Image credit: Flickr

    Many companies will have their own copywriters, but writing online is clearly very different to writing offline material – so it’s always useful if you can provide copywriters with a list of guidelines which can help them to optimise copy for the search engines and an online audience.

    These tips are aimed at copywriters and beginners who are looking to get started when optimising their site and should be taken as a guideline only. Everyone has slightly different ideas about what works best and a lot of search engine optimisation is about trial and error. You also need to try and find the right balance between optimising a webpage for targeted keywords and ensuring this is maximised from a user and conversion optimisation perspective. There’s little point in attracting tons of search engine traffic if the page doesn’t convert, and vice versa.

    So here are my quick tips and checks to make sure your website is well setup to be found in the search engines:

    Title tags
    Although this isn’t visible on the page, it is the single most important on-site optimisation factor (see SEOmoz’s search engine ranking factors report) so it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.

    1) Aim for 65 characters, this is the cut-off point in Google when listed with search results and it also helps to keep your title tags concisely targeted towards the most important keywords.
    2) Include keywords towards the start of the title tag, again see the SEOmoz SEO factors.
    3) Include consistent branding in the title tag. This comes down to preference, but the branding value of having your company name seen several times when listed in search results can be very valuable. I normally opt for a consisitent style of “Keywords | Brand” but this really is down to personal preference, if you have a long brand name it may be worth abbreviating or cutting this down in some way.

    Meta description tag
    Again, this doesn’t appear directly on a webpage – but a meta description tag is often listed as the result snippet when a site is listed in the search engines.

    4) Try to include the keywords you are targeting in the meta description tags, these are highlighted in bold when searched for so they can help to increase a search listings clickthrough rate.
    5) Write to entice the user into clicking your listing when it appears in the search results. Think of this as a Google AdWords ad where you can try to influence the clickthrough and conversion rate of an ad by making this sound interesting, clearly describing the landing page and adding a call-to-action so that users know what they should be doing once landing on your site.

    Headings
    6) Use one H1 heading per page to emphasise the most important keywords on that page to the search engines.
    7) Synchronise headings with title tags, to ensure primary terms are targeted as effectively as possible.
    8 ) Use H2-H5 Headings to optimise for secondary terms – making sure these are used as sub-headings.
    9) All content should have unique title tags and headings, this is to target different variations of keywords – as opposed to competing with itself for the same search terms.

    Internal linking:
    10) Internal links should be used to cross-link related content – this builds the strength of webpages within the search engines.
    11) Internal links should be added to when talking about a topic where there is further information available on another webpage from the site.
    12) Don’t overuse internal links within copy, just link to a small selection of relevant pages. But when doing this, make sure your links contain keywords where possible. Using “Keyword phrase” instead of “click here”, for example.

    Keyword usage on-page/body content
    13) Copy should be written specifically for web users. Considering online call-to-action.
    14) Aim to use primary keywords in first paragraph of text. In addition to title and heading tags.
    15) Use keywords and variations of keywords/secondary terms within main body of text. Aiming for 3-5 instances as a general rule, when in-context.
    16) Use keywords within internal links to webpage, cross-linking to related pages using keyword-rich anchor text.
    17) Use bold and italics to highlight important keywords. This isn’t a major search engine ranking factor but can help to emphasise certain keywords within a page – but make sure this isn’t overused.
    18) Use keyword descriptive ALT tags, ideally optimised towards the same set of targeted on-page keywords.

    Keyword density
    Seeing that keyword density is often discussed I thought it would be a good idea to explain this. This is one of those overused terms which used to have significance in the search engines, but really isn’t worth losing any sleep over these days. It’s 2009, Google has recently celebrated its eleventh birthday and they are far cleverer than to be tricked by a webpage which has keywords stuffed onto a page a certain amount of times – so this really isn’t the best use of your time!

    19) If your keyword density is 0% then yes – you’ve got a keyword density problem, similarly if your webpage isn’t readable because it contains too many keywords and doesn’t make sense, this is likely to be picked up by Google as a page which has clearly been over-optimised. I heard someone recommend recently that the ideal keyword density should be the same as the alcohol strength of your favourite beer, I quite like that idea – providing you’re not Belgian (that stuff must be stronger than Vodka!) – but modern SEO really is more about how keywords are formatted/presented on the page. If you have the perfect keyword density, say 5.5% (Carlsberg), but all of these terms are listed within the footer and navigation – with no mention in the page copy, title tags headings etc – then the page is unlikely to be performing at an optimum level.

    Images
    20) If you upload images to a webpage try and name these using keywords. For example “/images/keyword-phrase.jpg” – using a hyphen to separate keywords so that these are read by the search engines as spaces.
    21) Make use of the alt attribute, optimising relevant images for targeted keywords. As well as helping to optimise your page for the search engines this may help to attract searches via Google Images too.

    So these are my tips, I’d also recommend reading some great SEO copywriting tips from Copyblogger and please feel free to leave your own top tips in the comments.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    62 Responses to “21 On-Site SEO Tips You Can Give to Your Online Copywriter”

    1. desguaces says:

      Thanks, great topic. The real trick is writing stuff that interests people. More than one at least to get some links and keep growing.

    2. Steve Morris says:

      Just a note on the use of headings, use your headings not only for keyword value but to break up content into chunks of information so a reader can skim to the part of the information that is relevant to them. Studys have been done on how people read on the internet and its a different way then off-line. Readers tend to skim and read parts of pages. Long copy will turn readers off unless it’s broken up into manageable chunks.

    3. Mark says:

      Great article, a very good demonstration of how it should be done.

      One question though: Why do you have no follow tags on this page?

      Mark

    4. [...] 21 On-Site SEO Tips You Can Give to Your Online Copywriter, SEOptimise [...]

    5. desguaces – agree, quality content = natural links!

      Steve – yes, people read copy much differently on the web and do skim over headings, look at images etc, rather than reading in full (see my lazy bloggers guide) – plus no one’s noticed that I accidently repeated a couple of points towards the end which kind of proves my point! :)

      Thanks Mark, nofollow’s are built into WordPress for comments.

    6. Alex says:

      Great article as usual Kevin, especially when you are dealing with external parties or staff you never meet in the actual project meetings and during development / publishing to the site this comes in very handy.

      Keep up the good work!
      ALEX

    7. Michelle says:

      Nice summary, especially like the beer bit :)

    8. Jim says:

      Nice article, some useful ideas about the image names. Need to rename some of mine I think.

      By the way, there are some plugins that can disable the WordPress nofollow default. If you feel so inclined.

    9. Pat says:

      Excellent article – the only question is how do we know? I’m thinking of the keyword density in particular. If Google finds another keyword with a higher density on the page is it likely to tag the page with that keyword? If so will it reduce the chances of getting a high listing with the original target keyword?

    10. Vinay says:

      Nice post Kevin, this should be essential check list for any SEO begineers for on-site SEO! I liked your concept of keyword density which you related with alchol conent in beer – very true!

      You can also explain bit more about heading tag usages, like instance I have seen many sites using multiple H1 tags and in SEO prespective is this ok to do?

      Cheers

    11. David Lakins says:

      Great post Kevin! It’s all in the content. Creating the copy in the first place can be the hardest bit – making it relevant and also a great read. SEO-ing it is the icing on the cake and your list is a very useful guide.

      Cheers

    12. Thanks Vinay, good point about multiple h1 tags. A lot of time I think it depends on the situation, if you’re already #1 in Google there’s less reason to change things and potentially risk lowering your ranking. But if there’s still room for improvement you might want to test out a few different things, perhaps applying a trial and error method such as looking at how headings are labeled etc.

      Pat – when reviewing why a competitor is outranking you, I would pay more attention to how the webpage has been optimised – looking at the use of keywords (headings, titles, text etc) as opposed to the keyword density. Also paying attention to the inbound links the competitor has (at domain level and direct to individual page), these are more likely to be the reasons why your site is being outranked.

      David – yes, exactly! :D

    13. surfvoucher says:

      Thank you so much for this amazing and well detailed tips, I’m forwarding the article to our copy writers and we’ll make sure to implement them every time it’s possible!

    14. Carl says:

      Recently i launched my own website. Naively i just assumed you put your site on the web and away you go.I knew nothing about SEO but i soon learned,it was a case of having to. The first month i had no idea really what i was supposed to be doing in getting my site noticed by the search engines. When the penny finally dropped and i came to realize about keywords and especially anchor text key words in blogs and replying to blogs, also i found one of the most important tools is original content on your site, it came quite easily in boosting my page position. When i started out my site appeared on page 27 of Google and this was out of 60 million results that Google pulled up. Within 10 weeks i am now on page 1. My other key words pulled up over 240 million results and i am currently on page 2 for this. I have had no training in SEO and i have not paid for a single thing in terms of links or help from any SEO companies. It is boring and tedious but you just have to stick at it, day in and day out. At first the rewards come slow and there are times when you actually think you arn’t making any ground but after 3-4 weeks i did start to notice my position gradually improving and this then gives you the boost to stick at it. It’s not rocket science and does not requires any great skill to accomplish, just very long winded at best. You only get out what you put in and this is just the way of the world. I havent mentioned what my site is called incase it comes across as spamming something that i am certainly against.

    15. idris says:

      Nice post. I too have my own list of seo tips for copywriters, but this seems little more clear in explaining.

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    17. Chad Butler says:

      Thanks for the great list of tips! I thought there were some really useful tidbits in there. I especially like the idea about image file names. That is one of those things that is so obvious and doesn’t require a lot of effort, yet most people miss out on the benefit.

      Thanks for the great article!

    18. Chandan says:

      Thank you very much Kevin for the complete SEO tips. Some new tips I learned.

    19. Thanks for the great tips. Yes, the first hurdle is getting traffic from the search engines… and your tips are going to help. I also use Google’s Adwords tool to see what kind of searches are being done with specific keywords.

    20. Oscar Del Santo says:

      Thank you so much for these very useful tips.

    21. Jenny Andreson says:

      Nice work. It is impressive and very usefull for all. Site design is attractive and simple. Thanks for your effort.

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      Not sure I agree with quite ALL of it (;-)) but always interestiung to see discussion and comments on this subject.

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    45. I have found that a keyword density of 4-5% works best on Google and Yahoo!

    46. cbwd says:

      Yes overdoing your keywords in Google will just look like spam and wont do you any good. Google looks for natural content and not spam my content, this can do you more harm than good

    47. Matt@Google SEO Tips says:

      Thanks dude, i love your seo ideas. Keyword analysis is the most important and hard work in search engine optimization. Google top and expensive keywords are very important to find out. Worth reading SEO article mate. I am going to bookmark your site, Cheers.

    48. web developments says:

      thanks for your tips. it help me to improve my website seo.

    49. Josh says:

      Great read, these simple steps can lead to a website becoming powerful…will share.

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    51. Dr. Dan says:

      This is one of the better general on-site optimization pages I have seen. Pretty general tips but very well written.

    52. Marty Rogers says:

      First of all, great tips.

      Second, I believe that the title tag and headings are the most important factors of on-page SEO but I believe you need the right balance of everything to blow the competition out of the water.

    53. Copy writing says:

      It was such a great tips and useful to all online copywriters.

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      is external linking useful for SEO?

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    56. Himanshu says:

      thanks for the tips ,i really applied on my website and got some positive resutls

    57. JD says:

      some good seo advice, can anyone confirm for sure it underscore or hyphen is best?

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