How to Optimize Copy for Search Engines (and for Humans)

SEO-friendly copy doesn’t have to be stiff and robotic. It can sing to your readers like great copy does—and cozy up to Google Gods, too. Here’s how.

A computer screen with website traffic analytics open
Source: Luis Llerena, via Unsplash

What’s SEO Copywriting?

If you’re new to the world of content production, SEO copywriting can seem like a whole different breed, like normal copywriting’s denser, more search-engine-attractive twin. SEO, of course, stands for Search Engine Optimization, and the content world is rife with companies that promise to generate content that will rise to the top of the Google-search heap.

The problem, though, is that the “SEO Copywriting” these firms put out is often jargon-dense slush that does anything but optimize. In fact, search algorithms have caught up and learned to push these kinds of sites further down the rankings – instead prioritizing solid, quality content that’s optimized for readers like you, not for computers.

Then, What’s the Secret to Good SEO Copywriting?

If you want to optimize your content for a living, breathing, human with purchase power, here are 7 golden rules:

✔ Find a home run headline.

☐ Your headline is the first contact a reader will have with your content. If you fail there, the rest won’t matter. To encourage clicks (and to be prioritized by search engine algorithms), choose a title that is compelling and clear.

✔ Break it down

☐ No matter how diligent your readers are, they are lazy at heart. The more readable your article (think: lists, small paragraphs, and maybe some visuals), the better impact it will have.

✔ Make it shareable

☐ Search algorithms, as they improve, are giving greater and greater precedent to webpages that demonstrate authority. When your content is shared, your site’s authority rankings get boosted. Plus, content shared on social media gets extra eyeballs. That’s a win-win!

✔ Be careful with keywords

☐ Remember what we said about content that looks like it came out of the keyword trash compactor? It’s gross, and it doesn’t help you. HOWEVER, staying on topic and including a few searchable phrases here and there (especially in headlines, your URL, photo anchor text, and other easily crawled page locations) will help Google to prioritize your content.

☐ If your product has a smaller niche, you could also benefit from using long-tail keywords, or more-specific phrases that users are likely to search when they know what they’re looking for. So, if you’re a copywriting service, you’re better off using “high-quality business copy and promotional materials” than just, say, “writing.”

☐ While there’s no “magic number” for keyword density, you’re best off keeping it somewhere between 0.5 and 2.5% to escape penalty by Google Panda and it’s new updates.

✔ Link in. Link out. Link in again

☐ This goes back to both page authority and readability. Linking to outside pages allows your content to flow more smoothly, as well as making your site more credible (provided that you link to respectable sources). Linking to your own content does the same, while also resurfacing older material from your archives.

✔ Update frequently

☐ More recent pages get priority in the search algorithm, so keep on top of your blog as much as possible. If you don’t have the time or resources to give it proper attention, consider contracting it out.

✔ Don’t be afraid of longer content

☐ While readability is key and you don’t want to ramble, longer pieces can move your brand past run-of-the-mill blogging and into the realm of thought leadership. As a bonus, pieces longer than 1,500 words are given priority by some search engines.

Ultimately, content marketing relies on trust, and like it or not, there’s really no way to cut that corner. Focusing on quality, rather than on tips and tricks or gaming the system, will help you (and your content) reach greater heights.

What’s the secret to good SEO copywriting? It’s good copy.


Stacy Livingston

Stacy Livingston

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