You decided to hire an SEO copywriter to write content for your website, and now you’re looking at pages of web copy which look different from the marketing or advertising copy you’ve been tasked with proofing before. What is this SEO? Relax! SEO copy is quite different from regular copy, so don’t panic. Here are some pointers to help make translating the goobledygook that is SEO copy easier…

What is SEO Copy?

SEO copy is web copy which has been search engine optimised. SEO copy is written by specialist copywriters called SEO copywriters, who have both a creative knack for writing great copy and the technical understanding and skills relating to SEO. Unlike regular copy, which has one target audience, SEO copy has two target audiences – your target market and the search engines. So, when writing SEO copy, an SEO copywriter needs to take both target audiences into account. There is a fine balance to be struck here – crafting engaging and persuasive copy that will appeal to human readers, whilst still including the more technical aspects which appeal to the search engines themselves.

There are four common actions which clients take with newly presented SEO copy which exasperate the poor old SEO copywriter who has taken the time to craft good SEO copy. These are:

1.       Removing all the carefully researched keywords, replacing them with meaningless or irrelevant words or phrases

2.       Not assigning header tags, as written by the copywriter

3.       Deleting carefully written anchor text

4.       Ignoring the provided meta-data.

Ruthlessly butchering your SEO copy quickly makes it non-SEO copy! Usually, this is done out of ignorance, so let’s have a look at why each of these four actions is important:

·       - Targeted keywords – for each page of your site, your SEO copywriter will identify, through extensive research, industry keywords to target. These golden keywords are the words which people are typing in when they enter a search query into a search engine. You will notice that these keywords and keyphrases are repeated several times (not too many to be annoying to the reader, though, or to be considered black hat SEO) and are bolded the first time they appear in the copy. When proofing your copy, you should try to refrain from deleting or changing these keywords to phrases which are not searched-for. And when you upload your copy to your website, ensure that the bolding remains. Search engines are sensitive to words and phrases presented in bold and assign them more importance.

·       - Header tags – You will notice that, in the copy you’ve been given, your SEO copywriter has added tags which look like this: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> or <h6>. These are called header tags and represent the headings in your copy, from the lead header <h1> to the least important sub-header <h6>. SEO headings are somewhat akin to newsletter headlines – they need to grab the reader’s attention quickly and encourage them to read further. But that’s not all; they also need to catch the eye of the search engines. An SEO copywriter writes catchy headers which contain carefully researched keywords or keyphrases, so refrain from changing or deleting them. Your web developer or web master should know how to correctly assign these header tags in your website code. If they don’t, it’s time to hire someone who does! Remember that the actual tag (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) won’t appear in the copy people see, only in the back end (the code) of your website.

·       - Anchor text – Your SEO copywriter will have included some text-based internal links (links to other pages in your website) and external links (links to pages on other websites), for example when referencing sources. Internal and external text links are a good way to boost SEO. You will notice that, instead of writing, ‘click here’, your copywriter has written the hyperlink text (called the anchor text) so that it contains targeted keywords and keyphrases. Often, when copy gets uploaded, the anchor text gets removed and the meaningless ‘click here’ phrase inserted in its place. There’s no faster why to bring your copywriter to tears. Please preserve your anchor text!

·       - Meta-data – at the very end of your SEO copy, the SEO copywriter will have provided you with meta-data for the page. These include the <title> tag; meta-description and meta-keywords. While not nearly as important as it once was, it’s still helpful to ensure that your web developer or web master assigns these meta-tags.