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June 13, 2008
Avoiding SEO Brain Freeze Part Five: Writing Keyword Rich Copy

Now that you’ve got your keyword phrases figured out, and you know what pages of your site they belong with, plus have created terrific Title tags and marvelous Meta description tags, you’re ready for the fun phase--writing keyword rich copy.


The most important thing to know about this phase is that copy can’t be written by just anyone. It absolutely must be written by a professional copywriter who knows how to write compelling marketing copy. First and foremost your website is there to sell your products and/or services, so while just about anyone can string words together on a page, very few can do it in such a way that appeals to people’s emotions. Since the decision to purchase or even to just “learn more”  is driven in a large part by emotions, this is a critical part of your overall website success.


I always like to say that SEO doesn’t live in a vacuum. This means that everything you do to your website affects it in some way. This is why you can’t simply stuff keyword phrases all over your page and expect it to help your business. While it may temporarily provide you with some high rankings in the search engines, it won’t do you any good if those prospects leave without taking the action you want them to take.


With that in mind, make sure that everything you write, and every keyword phrase you use on any page of your website keeps the site visitor in mind. If you find that adding keyword phrases to your copy makes it sound worse, rather than better, then you’re not doing it correctly.


If your copywriter has no clue about search engines and refuses to learn, you could have them write each page’s copy without keyword phrases in mind, and then you could go back and edit it for keyword phrases. However, I’ve found that it’s very easy to train a good copywriter to also write SEO copy, and honestly, if they’re going to be writing website copy, they really need to learn this skill.


That said, your website may already have great copy contained within it, but it was never optimized for your keyword phrases. If that’s the case, the following steps should help you to transform your prose into something both your visitors and the search engines will eat up!


Step #1: Gather up the keyword lists that you created for each page of your website.

Step #2: Start with one page (usually the home page) and scan the current copy for words that are very general, as opposed to being descriptive. These can be words such as “product” or “service.”

Step #3: In reviewing those general words, decide if it is possible to substitute any of your keyword phrases for them without ruining the flow of the copy or changing the meaning of the sentence.  If so, make the substitution. Be careful of substituting the same keyword phrase for every instance of your general words. Doing so will usually end up making the copy sound “spammy” and keyword stuffed.

Step #4: Look for individual words on the page that that are part of any of your longer keyword phrases, and see if the longer phrase can be substituted instead.

Step #5: Check to see if the page copy already has headlines and subheadlines and whether they could be re-written to naturally include keyword phrases. If so, edit them accordingly.

Step #6: If the copy isn’t already using headlines or subheadlines, see if there are places in between paragraphs where some may fit in naturally.  Most web copy can benefit from breaking up the paragraphs with subheadlines. If yours needs this, add some in, using keyword phrases where appropriate. (Generally one phrase per headline.)

Step #7: Re-read the entire page (out loud is good) and see if you notice any other places where the chosen keyword phrases could fit in naturally.

Step #8: Re-read the page yet again and make sure that the copy reads as well for humans as it does for search engines.  This is the most important step, and the one that many people get wrong. If you have even an inkling that your copy sounds keyword-stuffed, go back and try it again.


The goal with SEO copywriting is to ensure that a typical visitor to the page should have no idea that it was optimized, but a trained SEO should be able to pick out the keyword phrases. Once you have that balance, you’ve done your job perfectly and your website will be golden with the search engines and your site visitors alike!


If you’d like more information and examples of how to write for the search engines, you may want to grab a copy of my Nitty-gritty of Writing for Search Engines.


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As an SEO Consultant, Jill Whalen has been providing her no-nonsense, practical SEO advice since 1995. If you learned from this article be sure to sign up for Jill's popular High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter to keep up with the latest information in the ever-changing world of SEO. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen, "Like" her at Facebook, and "Circle" her on Google+.

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