A quick guide to writing for the web to boost your SEO.

Writing for the web to grow a small businessAs your business grows up one area that often needs a makeover is your marketing. A large part of your marketing is the words you write, the copy.

If you don’t enjoy writing, or aren’t that good at it, outsource it – find an expert. But if you do enjoy writing the copy for your business, or have someone in-house that is great at it, this post will provide you some fast tips on getting more from your marketing time and effort.

This quick guide to writing copy for the web mainly focuses on boosting your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) by educating on some key web copywriting techniques. As the greatest SEO impact you can have ON your site (what’s called on-page optimisation) is the keywords you sprinkle throughout it, this is the main thing you need to get right first – what are your target key phrases?

Your target key phrases

This should be 10-20 phrases you are targeting to optimise your site for. You want the 5 most common phrases used to find your site, but you will find the greatest competition for these phrases, so it may be quite hard to get to page 1 of Google for any of them. You are best to extend your target list to 10 or even 20, and go for the ‘long tail’. This is where you get traffic from longer search phrases as people type in those specific terms and as there is less competition for those words in the engines, you are more likely to come up on page 1 of Google. And, your conversion rate should be higher as the phrase used is more specific. Wikipedia explains this best:

The long tail in keyword research is basically an expansion of a core, generic, high volume keyword phrase to include numerous combinations and permutations of the keywords and their associated or relevant phrases. These phrases individually are unlikely to account for a great deal of searches, but when taken as a whole, can provide significant targeted traffic that convert well. The long-tail is unlikely ever to exceed searches for a brand name if the brand name is reasonably well established, but the volume of converting traffic these terms can generate by nature of their specificity and relevance is worth investigating. These keywords are very effective because there is little competition for most of these keywords on major search engines.

They go on to say that “long-tail searches often exhibit a higher conversion rate by up to 200% compared to short-tail (generic) keywords.”

This is what we found first-hand with The London Pub Crawl Company. Our initial primary phrase was ‘London pub crawls’. But upon further keyword research we found much more traffic, and relevant traffic, for our London iPhone app by conducting some keyword research and using the long-tail method above. Jonno writes a weekly post about London pubs, ale and beer – if you skip through some of these posts (now armed with the knowledge above) you should be able to see the keywords and phrases he is targeting with each post. Neat, huh?

By knowing what your target key phrases are you change the way you write. Jonno has, and we not only got an amazing boost in traffic, but also more relevant visitors and the engines push our site further up their rankings (as they see we are popular, and for many phrases to do with London pubs.)

You will learn how and when to mention your phrases so it still reads well to a human, but also the engines eat it up.

Keyword research

This is how to find which keywords to have in your target list. Don’t just assume, know. One of the wonders of the internet and especially what Google has done to search since entering the market in the late 1990s is the measurability.

You can actually see how many people search for a phrase in Google each month.

This is immensely powerful. Knowing which of your key phrases get the most traffic influences what phrases make your top 5 and top 20, and in what order.

To find out how many people search for your target phrases login to your Google AdWords account (or create on if you don’t have one already). Then this is what you do:

  1. Go to Reporting and Tools> Keyword Tool
  2. Enter in your 20 phrases, one per line
  3. Click ‘search’
  4. Before getting excited and studying the results, on the left tick ‘[Exact]’ and untick ‘broad’, and click ‘search’ again
  5. Just below the box where you entered your phrases adjust the ‘Locations:’ drop-down so the ‘local searches’ are for your country

The main areas you need to adjust on the tool are highlighted in the screenshot below:

Google Adwords keyword tool to grow your small business

Now study the results, and get excited! This is hugely valuable information. It is telling you what phases you need to thread through your content to not only increase traffic to your site, but also conversion (as the people coming to your site will be more targeted.)

Be sure to look at the other words Google suggests below, in the ‘Keyword ideas’ area, and pick out a top 30 from that. Your top 30 should simply based on demand – the volume of searches for that phrase each month.

But the demand side is only one part of the equation. Now you need to cull the list of 30 down to 20 by looking at the supply side, the competition. You can see a little competition bar in one of the columns. The fuller the bar, the more competition there is for that phrase. For the larger volume phrases you probably have to pick 3-5 to have in your list, these are the main ones people use to find your site. But look for phrases that have no or low competition and reasonable search volume.

You can also see how many pages return in Google when you type that phrase in. You can do some simple math of demand / supply to get some ratios to help you whittle your list down to 20.

What should a small business owner / manager do to boost their site SEO from better website copy:

  1. Distil your top 10-20 target key phrases
  2. Adjust your writing style to use those phrases, but be sure to mix them up
  3. Link to your own pages on your site using your key phrases (again, be sure to mix
  4. When asking people to link to your site ask them to use one of those key phrases in the anchor text
  5. Follow the other SEO basics for growing a small business online
  6. Before you get into this take a snapshot of what position you are in Google for all your 10-20 phrases, so you can measure your progress. Just drop each into Google and click through the pages until you see your site. See what page you are on then at the position on the page it is (e.g. 3rd) to the page number and deduct 10 from the amount. That’s the position you are for that phrase. Mark it down and check your progress weekly or monthly. Be sure you are not logged in to Google at the time as they are now including social influences in your personal search results
  7. Monitor your position in Google often, learn and adapt your style

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