Today, SEO is more than just a group of methods used to attract search engines.
Instead, it’s dynamic, personal, and (if you ask me) exciting.
While the “great” content of yesteryear involved stuffing web copy full of keyword and writing stiff, clunky material that only a search engine could love, today’s SEO is more relevant, more useful, and more exciting for writers and marketers alike.
Read on to learn more about how to make your SEO copy better for today—and beyond.
SEO: The Chameleon of Online Marketing
Even if you think you’re up to date on SEO, chances are there’s still a lot you can learn. SEO changes faster than virtually anything else in the online world, and if you’re not keeping up, your content will suffer.
While the basic facts of SEO may remain somewhat steady, the rules for great SEO execution change all the time. This is thanks in large part to things like smarter search engines, more discerning Google users, and a greater focus on delivering relevance and value in content rather than focusing merely on keywords.
10 Principle Elements of Great SEO Copy for Today (and Tomorrow)
Even though SEO changes all the time, being adaptable allows you to stay on top of it and continue creating quality content, even in today’s exciting new SEO landscape. Here are ten tips to help you stay on top of today’s current high-quality content standards.
1. Write (& Optimize) Great Meta Content
Meta titles and descriptions are like the “free PPC” of Google: missing out on this is huge. My writing company has helped many people boost their SEO simply by writing fresh metas.
A few rules of thumb I go by for nailing my meta content:
- Max out your character limit (this is how you get the most out of it). Just don’t go overboard—hit the max and stop. This is even more important because if you weren’t aware, Google recently changed the game on meta content. As of last month, Google increased both its meta title and meta description length allowances, boosting the title tag length to 70-71 characters and expanding the meta description limit to 100 characters per line. This means you now have some added space to include an extra keyword, more descriptors, or even your phone number or address if you serve local customers.
- Don’t “describe” the post or content piece: write to sell Ask yourself, “What would make someone stop and read this post?” …then write your meta. Don’t be bland here. What people read in the meta could make them click or skip. Example: I wrote a blog called 50 Weak Words and Phrases to Cut out of Your Blogging. My meta description was: Don’t be that literally almost blogger. Here’s a list of 50 words that you can shave out to instantly tighten up your blogging and make every word count. (That piece has been shared over 1,500 times on Stumbleupon alone!)
2. Write Relevant Content Sentences for Your Embedded Links
If you’re using anchor text like “read more” or “click here” to link pages, that’s a thing of the post you should stop doing now. You’re missing out on a powerful source of SEO goodness.
Instead of embedding your links in generic text, use relevant phrases to help visitors find what they’re looking for, and make the most of your potential link juice. For better results, focus on making your anchor text relevant (see how I did that?), descriptive, and interesting to get the maximum SEO boost it has to offer. Link back to your content this way (from blogs, link to other pages, other blogs, or content pieces on your domain).
3. Write for Readers (and RankBrain)
Write always, always, first and foremost for your readers.
Wait, isn’t this post titled “10 Elements of Good SEO Copy?”
Well, one of the most critical SEO tips out there is simply to write so that people want to read your content. Simply put, if you don’t follow this rule, you’ll never get full ROI out of your content—no matter how well it ranks, if it’s not readable, people aren’t going to want to check you or your services out and thus continue down the funnel. If you’ve been following the trend of SEO for the last few years, this might not be entirely surprising.
Now, how does RankBrain fit in? While the words “write for the reader” are a virtual refrain in today’s SEO landscape, writing for RankBrain is becoming an important consideration, as well. RankBrain, Google’s AI system, was built to handle Google’s millions of daily search inquiries and now enjoys a spot as the third most important ranking algorithm in Google’s extensive lineup. Because of this, marketers can do well to write RankBrain-focused content that flows naturally, helps visitors, features interactive images and videos, and earns a high number of clicks. All of these things will contribute to boosting SEO and secure a more prominent position in the SERPs.
4. Be Useful
This ties into my point above.
While “being useful” might not seem like much of an SEO tip, I can’t stress enough the importance of providing value to your clients.
To rank well in the SERPs, you need to write useful content that your users want to read. And what makes them want to read it? If it provides them something useful. Solves a problem, answers a question, and above all, is the most in-depth answer to their question or problem. Otherwise, they’re off to read your competitor’s post that went more in-depth.
This means informative, compelling content that’s both valuable and exciting – every time.
Tip: To give yourself an added edge, incorporate content aids like user reviews, images, and relevant, long-tail keywords into your content to boost user experience.
5. Become a Storyteller
Does storytelling have a place in SEO? You bet it does!
By including elements of storytelling in your SEO copy pursuits, you can capture reader attention and make it easier than ever for people to engage with your content. What’s more, it’s also a fantastic way to improve your search ratings and craft content that legitimately engages your audience.
I believe storytelling will be a form of content creation that dominates the more we progress into the future. What else captures us, as much as a story does? (And interestingly enough, we’re going far, far back in the time to hone in on this “trend.” Professional “storytellers,” who were “paid” for telling their tales, dates far back to the Middle Ages.)
6. Upgrade Your Visuals Beyond a Simple Screenshot
Remember how I mentioned that you should include videos and images in your content? You should – just not in the form of screenshots! While screenshots can be a helpful way to illustrate a point, they’re not very interactive, and they make it hard for your clients to navigate back to the content you’ve mentioned.
Tip: Think of more forms of interactive content that go a little further: for example, include embed codes for things like tweets instead of just taking a screenshot of them. This makes your content more interactive and increases the likelihood that it will rank well and serve your readers.
7. Pen Engaging Headlines
Google moves content with many clicks to the top of the SERPs. Unfortunately, many great articles don’t get clicks because they look dull when viewed on the results page. To combat this, improve your headlines – first and foremost. The headline is the first impression a reader gets of your content, and improving your headline has the potential to improve your click-through rate greatly.
Tip: I love the Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer—I’ve seen better results from the blogs with titles ranking 40-50% on their scale.
8. Go Mobile-Friendly
Tip: Use the Page Speed Insights Tool at Google and test your content on multiple devices to be sure it’s up to snuff.
9. Create a Sitemap
Don’t forget this one! A sitemap is an efficient and straightforward way to help Google help your content. To help Google rank your content more efficiently, create a sitemap and upload it to Google to give your site an SEO head start.
10. Avoid Keyword Stuffing
When most people think of keyword stuffing, they think of content that’s crammed full of keywords to the point of bursting. Not so much. Today, however, keyword stuffing is a little more insidious: it actually begins at 3% density, which doesn’t give you much wiggle room.
With this in mind, keep your content user-friendly and be careful not to rely on keywords as a crutch.
Today’s search engines are more focused on relevance than they are keywords, so it’s easy to rank well even if you don’t insert a keyword at every turn.
Improving Your SEO, One Step at a Time
SEO is an ever-changing industry, and being willing to adjust as needed is the best way to safeguard your company against the constant flux of SEO best practices. When you update your SEO approach regularly, it’s easy to provide quality, relevant content your readers can find and interact with easily.
While SEO is anything but predictable, these ten SEO tips can help you ensure your content succeeds today and beyond.
What would you add? Let me know in the comments!
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!