Four ways to level up your copywriting with SEO

When you hear the word SEO, do you think: Keywords? Google rankings? The coveted first page of search engine results?

While all those things matter, there’s more to it than simply mastering the art of talking to Google.

Things have changed since the 90s. Jelly sandals have slipped off the face of the earth (unless you’re four). AOL’s screechy dial-up connection is a thing of the past. And good SEO looks a lot more like a well-thought-out blog post than a page stuffed with endless keywords.

So, what can you do to level up your SEO game?

1. Be clever with keywords

Keywords are important in SEO. They’re the driving force behind rankings and help determine where your page lands on Google.

No matter what kind of copy you’re writing, you must have a solid keyword strategy to underpin it. This means keyword research, infusing your content with a good mix of search terms, and avoiding any ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques.

Do your keyword research

Keyword research is all about gathering insights into what your audience types into Google – which can then inform your wider content strategy. So, how do you actually carry out keyword research?

Let’s say a patisserie wants to drive traffic to its website, via a blog page and a handful of SEO-focused pillar pages. As part of their keyword research, they come up with overarching keywords such as cupcakes, baking, and cookies.

Using an SEO tool like UberSuggest or SEMRush, they enter these into the search bar and get something that looks like this:

Here, they can see the search volume and difficulty of each of the keywords they’ve selected. The higher the search volume, the more important these keywords are to your target audience. In this case, ‘cupcakes’ is pretty popular. The only problem is – it’s over-saturated and has a high SEO difficulty (i.e. lots of businesses are trying to rank for it).

In this case, it’s better to come up with related search terms that are similar to ‘cupcakes’, so they aren’t competing against established bakery brands.

These related search terms can be a mix of short-tail, long-tail, and serendipitous keywords.

  • Short-tail keywords: Non-specific keywords between one to three words long and act as the ‘main’ keyword (i.e., pink cupcakes, blue icing sugar, chocolate cookies).
  • Long-tail keywords: Longer and more specific keywords that tend to get less traffic (good for niche businesses or those with a lot of competition since specific targeting = higher conversion rates)
  • Serendipitous keywords: Keywords that fall out of your audience’s typical search but relate to your core business offering, e.g. ‘best patisserie chefs’ or ‘learning to bake.’)

Sprinkle keywords into your content

Once you’ve done your keyword research, it’s time to sprinkle search terms into your content. But there are a few things to avoid. Known as ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques, the following might seem like a fast track to a high ranking, but Google will likely penalise your content.


  • Succumb to keyword stuffing: Littering your content with so many keywords that it seems unnatural and forced.
  • Use keyword blocks: Squeezing all your keywords into lists and bullet points (this is lazy and all that blue hyperlinking isn’t easy on the eyes).
  • Stoop to hidden keyword stuffing: Hiding keywords in your content by making the text the same colour as the background (Google will find you!)


  • Use keywords appropriately (i.e. where it fits the context of the copy)
  • For blogs and long-form copy, use your target keyword at least once within the headline and sprinkle it sparingly throughout your body copy (once every 200 words)
  • For key web pages (Home and About Page) stick to short-tail keywords
  • For specific pages (Product/Service Pages) use long-tail and serendipitous keywords

2. Write for humans

Since Google’s Panda update in 2011, good SEO doesn’t just mean talking to ‘robots’ and squeezing in as many keywords as possible. It means creating relevant and purposeful content that delivers value to readers.

In simple terms, it means writing better copy. Copy that delivers a purpose to readers – whether that’s to entertain, persuade, or inform. Copy that’s written well and actually speaks to readers – copy that’s human.

Here are a few ways you can pander (excuse the pun) to Google’s 2011 SEO update:

  • Invest in copywriting services: Copywriters know what it takes to create great content – it’s their specialty. Work with an agency, hire an in-house writer or freelancer who can do the heavy lifting. Bonus points if they can provide SEO services as part of their offering
  • Get rid of low-quality pages or update them with some juicy, relevant content
  • Get rid of duplicate content (content that appears on your site multiple times across multiple pages)
  • Avoid filling your pages with ads

3. Create a linking strategy

Backlinking and internal linking are another two core components that make up a solid SEO copywriting strategy.

Backlinks are links from one page or website to another – and the more you wrack up, the higher Google will rank you. The only thing is, backlinks can’t just be from any old page. They need to be from verified sources. Better still, try to get backlinks from highly reputable sites with lots of traffic.

Sites to avoid:

  • Spammy sites
  • Sites with low security
  • Sites with low authority

If you do happen to find a backlink on a spammy site that points to your website, you’ll want to separate (disavow) yourself from it. To do this, all you need to do is submit your query via Google Console within a .txt file.

Internal linking, on the other hand, is linking pages from your own site together (i.e., linking your site’s pillar page to your blog). Regular internal linking can also earn you a few extra brownie points with Google and help guide readers from one part of your site to another.

Top tips for internal linking:

  • Link from your homepage through to sub-pages (will spread out your linking and help other pages get noticed)
  • Don’t go overboard with internal linking – stick to 150 or less per page to avoid encroaching on the user experience
  • Use anchor text that’s relevant and relates to the content it’s being linked to

4. Create a keyword universe

A keyword universe – similar to ‘keyword research’ but this will be done for your entire site. It’s all the keywords and phrases your site currently ranks for, as well as the keywords you hope to rank for in the future. The size of a keyword universe can vary from as many as 50,000 keywords or as little as 100.

When creating your keyword universe, identify all the phrases and terms you already rank for – and those that you aim to rank for.

Compile these together in a spreadsheet to get an overview of all your search terms and keep adding to it whenever a new keyword is added to your site (or whenever you identify a phrase you want to rank for).

While a keyword universe a good indicator of your overall SEO prowess, it can also be used to inform future content creation ideas. Struggling with blog ideas or pillar page content? Simply open up your keyword universe and use one of the search terms as a starting point for your content.

SEO is a great investment

It’s true – SEO is an investment. Aside from investing in keyword research tools, you’re also going to have to put in the time to carry out keyword research, collate all the keywords, and make sure your content is fully SEO-optimised. It’s a continuous process and results are rarely immediate, but keep at it and you’ll start to see a steady uptick in your ranking over time.

SEO traffic light

How to make your SEO plug-in happy (and work harder for you)

SEO traffic light

There’s a lot to think about when writing your business blog. An SEO plug-in – Yoast, Wix SEO Wiz, Rank Math etc – can help maximise your blog’s reach, but no software can do it alone. But there are a number of steps you can take to improve the quality and readability of your content – and engage your audience – without breaking the bank. 


Two billion websites are competing for attention


The Google search engine is the go-to platform for 92.71% of all online searches, and captures information from an estimated 2 billion websites. That’s a whole load of competition. But this is where clever use of your SEO plug-in, and a targeted approach to writing copy, will help focus your online efforts – rather than wasting time trying to turn those red crosses – the problems your plug-in flags up – into green checkmarks. 

Some of the common issues an SEO plug-in might flag up include:


· Using the passive voice

· Long sentences

· Long paragraphs

· Lack of subheadings

· Readability

· Strength of your focus keywords or phrases

· Broken links

· Website load times


Writing more effective copy and avoiding some of those red flags really is fairly simple. Here are just a few tips to keep your plug-in happy and make sure your blog works harder for you.


The key to better copy


One of the first things to eliminate is the passive voice where possible. If you’re not sure if a sentence uses the passive voice and you want to avoid your plug-in telling you off, add the phrase ‘by zombies’ to the end of your sentence. If it still makes grammatical sense, you’ve used the passive voice. Example: ‘A question was asked’…’by zombies’. That’s the time to turn your sentence into the active voice, for instance: ‘He asked a question’. (Or, if you’re writing a zombie apocalypse novel, ‘The zombie asked a question’.)


Something else to think about is ‘the rule of three’ that novelists, graphic designers and professional communicators often use. The premise is that the human brain most easily grasps ideas in threes: ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’; ‘Ready, Steady, Go’; Three Little Pigs. Short, effective, memorable. Structuring your blog post this way will focus your writing. Keep it simple, sharp and to the point.


Consider the following from George Orwell: “Never use a long word where a short one will do”. Clean, clear sentences help your reader find the information they need and pinpoint how you can offer a solution to their problem.


Holding your audience’s attention


Sentence length is another red flag for a plug-in. The best writing uses a varied sentence length: too many long sentences in a row can be tiring for the reader. Too many short sentences can make your text feel disjointed. The same is true for paragraph length – you’re more likely to lose your audience if they can’t find the main idea quickly. You only have a short time to capture their attention – around eight seconds – before they move on. A little variety enhances your post and keeps your reader on the page.


Don’t forget subheadings…


Subheadings allow your audience to zero in on the ideas and solutions they’re looking for and will help you clarify the message you want to convey. Strategic subheadings capture attention and also make it more likely your reader will stick around to read your post for longer than those precious eight seconds.


…Or keywords


A plug-in will allow you to test out the keyword you want to use for your post, help you find related keywords and see how many searches a particular word or phrase garners on Google. Once established, it’s important to use these keywords throughout the post. Having the freedom to quickly play around with this saves you valuable time while boosting your chances of increasing your post’s ranking.


It’s the little things


These are just a few simple tips to optimise your content and boost your online presence. Maximising how you use those helpful plug-ins makes a big difference in your search rankings. If you’re still feeling unsure about how you can enhance your blog’s reach, get an expert to to check your draft before you upload, and before your plug-in bears its red flag.


Image courtesy of Alexas_Photos from Pixabay