Thursday, April 27, 2017

The SEO Writer: Five Key Skills

What is the difference between a good copywriter and a good SEO writer?

A good copywriter possesses writing talent and marketing expertise. A good copywriter creates succinct, error-free content that broadcasts a specific message to a general audience.

A good SEO writer also possesses writing talent and marketing expertise. Yet the SEO writer's marketing expertise includes a knowledge of search engine algorithms. A good SEO writer creates succinct, error-free content that broadcasts a specific message to a specific online audience. Specificity is key--as we discus below.

The distinction is akin to the distinction between traditional marketing and digital marketing. Both aim to attract a specific audience. Traditional marketing, however, is at least one step removed from the audience. To attract a specific audience, traditional marketing broadcasts to a general audience.

Think billboards, radio ads, or newspaper circulars. Traditional marketing casts a wide net to amplify a message. Success is defined in several ways: by increasing brand awareness; improving brand image; or attracting a percentage of viewers to a certain product, service, or promotion.

Apple's famous "Think Different" campaign, which some credit with saving the company from financial ruin, is a perfect example of how traditional marketing, when performed correctly, can make a brand "deeply recognizably."

Apple's "Think Different" campaign [Photo Source]
Traditional marketing, then, focuses on macro-audiences (although the goal may be to engage only a percentage of that audience). Digital marketing, on the other hand, focuses on micro-audiences. The success of any digital marketing campaign is contingent on defining the best keywords for the given micro-audience, and creating relevant, engaging content for that audience.

More on keywords: How to Perform Keyword Research

More on good content: How to Write Good Content: What is Your Point?

Of course, when speaking about the quality of content, the distinctions between traditional marketing and digital marketing is unimportant.  The term "digital content," is a misnomer: The best content--in traditional and digital marketing--is defined by the quality of the writing itself.

However, successful online writing requires a distinctive set of knowledge and skills. A copywriter may or may not understand how to effectively attract an online audience. To attract a specific audience online, you need the talents of an SEO writer.

The SEO Writer: Five Key Skills 

A Good SEO Writer Will Research & Effectively Use Keywords

A good SEO writer can help you research and choose the best keywords for your product or service. If you are not certain how to define your product or service, keyword research can help you clarify your offering: Imagine you are Googling your product or service. What keywords would you type?

A good SEO writer will then use these keywords resourcefully to attract targeted attention to your site--attention that will lead to conversions. A copywriter may overlook the details that make a piece of content work for a search engine. A SEO writer, however, writes with a keen eye on attracting on online audience. By nature, this sort of work is succinct and precise--to the point.

More on conversions: How SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization Work Together to Inspire Sales

A Good SEO Writer Crafts Search Engine Friendly URLs and Title Tags and Meta Descriptions 

A page's URL (uniform resource locator) is it's web address. A fully-optimized web page will include a coherent, simple URL that can easily be identified by humans and search engines alike. Crafting a good URL is a deceptively simple practice perfected by the best SEO writers.

A title tag is displayed in search results as the title of a web page. Once you click on the page, the title tag may or may not be displayed at the top of the browser (Firefox does; Chrome does not). Title tags should be hyper-specific and relevant, yet not spammy--keywords must be used judiciously.

Meta tags are inserted into the “head” area of your web pages, and are used by search engines to accurately list your site in their indexes. Every page of your website must have unique meta tags. A good SEO writer optimizes your meta tags to accurately describe the content of your page.

A Good SEO Writer Uses Structure to His/Her Advantage 

Many writers are enamored with their own work--to the detriment of the writing. A good SEO writer is a great writer, first, but he or she also understands that SEO requires structure.

Good SEO writers get finicky about details that other writers overlook--details that might supersede the writer's natural inclinations. A good SEO writer, for example, understands the importance of the appropriate number of words, keywords, and links as well as paragraph and article length.

For a view into the finicky side of SEO writing, read Neil Patel's article How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data Driven Answer.

For more on content length and "content density": SEO Content Density: How to Write Like a Pro

A Good SEO Writer Composes Effective Links

The link above (for Neil Patel's article) precisely describes the nature of the link. Many copywriters create articles with arbitrary links ("click here") that have little to do with the actual content of the link.

To optimize a link, a good SEO writer creates a precise description of the link's contents. Just like URLs, title tags, and meta tags, this precise description allows the search engine to understand and "index" the link.

Again, an effective link description is a deceptively simple task, yet the best SEO writers have learned the value of outbound links, and how to effectively maximize this value.

A Good SEO Writer Chooses Relevant Images and Composes Effective Image Tags 

By now, you might have noticed several themes. First, every aspect of a page needs to be optimized, from the text to the tags. Second, SEO writers are not simply adept at writing--the best SEO writers perfect writing as well as the technical and design aspects of SEO, including keyword research, URL and tag composition, and structure.

Choosing the perfect image for your content requires an eye for design; writing the perfect description requires SEO knowledge and writing chops. In a way, image optimization synthesizes the skills of a good SEO writer.

For more on image optimization: How to Optimize Images for Search Engines

This photograph of a person wearing a Cookie Monster costume, by Klaus Pichler, is an all-time favorite. To optimize this image, offer the most salient details: Klaus Pichler, Cookie Monster 
SEO Writing with Stepman's SEO 

Stepman's SEO understands how to effectively promote websites with good content. To learn more about how Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns, call: 215-900-9398.