26 min read
Updated: August 29, 2022

SEO Copywriting: Writing For People, Thinking of Search Engines

The changing face of online journalism predicates the challenges faced by eCommerce businesses. How do marketers attract audiences without selling out to cheap clickbait tactics that compromise business integrity and brand intelligence?

Pioneering advertising executive Leo Burnett once said of copywriting:

“Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.”

Except, now it’s not as straightforward as filling advertising space in a magazine or buying advertising space during prime-time TV. It’s not just the content that matters, but the medium. Writing to appease search engines and appeal to your target audience, empowered with the autonomy to engage with content when and how they like, can be tough.

Current content marketing models are dynamic and sophisticated. Keyword research is the nexus to all search engine optimization and marketing efforts. Because target audiences are defined by the answers they seek on Google search, SEO copywriting has become paramount to content creation, receiving qualified traffic, and ranking in searches.

Still, the most effective way to attract traffic online is to write for people first. Here’s how to incorporate SEO strategy into human-centric online content.

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What is SEO Copywriting?

SEO copywriting incorporates SEO strategies to write copy that naturally boosts a website’s search engine rankings. Keyword density, search volume, tone, style, and readability are all considered to produce compelling content that attracts organic traffic.

In theory, keyword phrases artfully woven into online content are impossible to discern. An experienced SEO copywriter makes the writing sound natural, provided the keywords make sense.

Great copywriting comes down to three things:

  1. It should show, not tell (where possible)
  2. It should be simple to understand
  3. It should tell readers what they need to know and quickly.

The same principles apply to content SEO copywriting, except you’re pairing SEO best practices to product pages, Google Ads, meta tags, title tags, website content, social media platforms, and so on.

Is it Possible to Write a Good Article Considering Search Engine Optimization Requirements?

SEO experts used to be concerned with writing content that included as many relevant keywords as possible, which led to the frowned-upon practice of keyword stuffing. This refers to overloading a web page with target keywords to manipulate a site’s ranking. However, search engine algorithms are more advanced and no longer reward higher positions based on keyword ranking alone.

So, yes, it is entirely possible to write content that’s concise and actionable while still reaching SEO requirements. Let’s use the example of a gym and pretend the target keyword is get fit.

Poor copy would read something like this:

Do you need to get fit? Get fit at Curve’s gym. We have new membership discounts to help you get fit.

Alternatively, crisp copy might read like this:

Looking for the best place to train? Receive a free month’s membership when you sign up at Curves gym. We’re here to help you get fit.

If you want to build credibility and audience rapport, you can’t just focus on keyword intent.

Writing conversationally and offering valuable content that addresses customer pain points is the only way to improve organic ranking.

Optimization for Search Engine, Users, or Both?

We get this question a lot from clients and explain it like this: Online businesses primarily use the internet because everyone else does. The truth is out: 56% of consumers don’t trust a business without a website. Having an SEO-friendly website is a stock standard prerequisite or bare minimum, every organization must meet to thrive in the current marketplace.

Now, marketing online is competitive. So, to stand out, you have to use SEO copywriting tools and strategies to climb the rungs on Google search engine’s results (SERPs) ladder. Regardless of how great your copy is, it won’t get noticed by search engines without SEO, yet, at the same time, no one is interested in reading robotic keyword-optimized content.

It’s a pragmatic balance. When you understand your target audience, you find keywords that relate to their online searches and craft spectacular copy (intelligently sprinkled with these keywords) that’s interesting and nudges them further along the marketing funnel.

That’s the basics. Of course, there are tricks of the trade that ensure on-page SEO copywriting delivers high ROI.

How do you implement SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting is about much more than using a keyword naturally a handful of times on landing pages or your next blog post. It’s a vital part of driving conversions. Implementing the tips below can help optimize your SEO content writing.

#1. Keyword Research

Marketing platform Conductor defines keyword research as:

“Keyword research is the process by which you research popular search terms people type into search engines like Google, and include them strategically in your content so that it appears higher on a search engine results page (SERP).”

No online content or marketing campaign should exist without keyword research. It’s important because it reveals exactly what terms people are searching for online, what their intent is (keyword intent), and how competitive keywords are. This data is used to develop marketing plans to increase organic search visibility rankings and bring in more traffic.

As a starting point, marketers will brainstorm seed keywords. If we continue with the gym example, we might come up with the following:

  • Gym
  • Gym workout
  • Gym near me
  • 24-hour gym

Now, because it is impossible for a single person to index the entire web, marketers plugin seed keywords into keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Moz. These pull additional keyword ideas from their databases based on the seed words.

You’ll come across both short and long-tail keywords during research. The former is specific, consisting of one or two words, for example, gym workout, whereas the latter may consist of three to five words or more, for example, best time to do gym workout.

As a general rule, long-tail keywords are more specific and used when potential customers are closer to purchasing. Most have lower search volumes compared to primary keywords, which is advantageous. They’re not as popular and less competitive, so it’s easier to rank for them.

Next, you’ll want to consider an ideal keyword density that is around 1-2% for blog posts and web page copy. This just means the target keyword should appear one or two times per 100 words. At this rate, the keyword is present enough times to show search engines exactly what the page is about without engaging in keyword stuffing.

Wondering where to use these keywords? The page titles, body copy, title tag, meta description, subheading, landing page, content, images, URLs, link anchor text, and social media are the perfect places!

#2. Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ pages are important website components, either as standalone sections or as part of navigation bars and footers. Having a strategic FAQ section allows you to respond to your customers’ search intent using particular keyword/s.

This improves your SEO rankings because Google places a higher value on websites that are focused on helping users get the information they need. For example, if you discover users’ search, how much are gym memberships? Then you can include this as part of your FAQs. Theoretically, this should drive highly targeted traffic to your website.

You can create SEO-friendly FAQ pages by doing the following:

  • Allowing keyword research to inform your FAQ copy
  • Structuring content in a manner that makes it easy for search engines to crawl. For example, grouping questions around topics.
  • Using subheadings, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs to improve readability

FAQ pages are part of the customer journey. Each answer is a step down the buyers’ funnel, which is why adding internal links to nudge them along is crucial. Internal links in FAQs must consider keywords and user intent.

For instance. Let’s say the primary keyword is gym membership. The question might be: How much are gym memberships? And the answer: Gym memberships are $30 a month. To lead prospects further down the funnel, marketers will internally link gym memberships in the answer to a sign-up landing page to complete.

The importance of FAQ section

#3. Optimize Your Headlines

80% of readers don’t make it past the headline. Advertising pioneer David Ogilvy said: “On average, five times more people read the title of an article than read the actual text.” Legend has it; he once rewrote a headline over 100 times. There are no two ways about it; headline writing is a craft that takes time to perfect.

Creating content is about providing value, so prospects convert. These SEO copywriting tips can make headline writing easier:

  • Keep it short: Google only displays 50 to 60 characters. Keeping a headline to this length avoids awkward cut-offs on search engine results.
  • Be straightforward: You should provide readers with a clear and concise idea about what the blog or article is about. Most recommend benchmarking language at an 8th grader level. Remember, there is a difference between advertising copy and content marketing. While you still want to appeal to emotions, the focus with blogs, for example, should be creating something simple and attention-grabbing.
  • Use Keywords: Where possible, lead your headline with a primary keyword. Always place keywords in your headline, so long as it appeals to your readership.
  • Insert strong adjectives: Compelling adjectives bring more engagement. Positive and powerful ones tend to work best.
  • Try formulas: These can work, depending on the nature of your content. For example, The Secret too…How to [specific task] that [rewarding benefit]…What You Need to Know About, etc.

SEO copywriting tips

#4. Your Site Should Be Fast

Even though it appears seemingly unconnected, technical SEO is just as important as SEO related to content. From an SEO perspective, it’s the process of ensuring a website meets the technical requirements for crawling and indexing (jargon used to describe search engines “reading” and ranking a website).

Website speed is one such critical aspect that not only impacts user experience but also ranking. Google has officially admitted that fast load speed is a positive ranking factor. In fact, two seconds is an acceptable load time threshold for eCommerce stores. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should compromise on quality just to load faster.

So, why is it so important, then? A one-second delay can reduce customer satisfaction by 16%. When you do the math, you can see how 3 seconds leads to almost 50% less satisfaction. Website speed impacts revenue and search engine performance. To send positive engagement signals to search engines, you can do the following:

  • Choose a high-performance web host. Cheaper options don’t necessarily provide the results you need.
  • Compress and optimize images
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly
  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML
  • Eliminate unnecessary plugins
  • Reduce the number of pop-ups, especially on mobile

#5. Be Informative

Informative graphs, infographics, and visual content help readers understand information better. The human brain processes visual information is 60,000 times faster than text-based content. For example, instead of writing a blog post, you might be able to present the same information as a video or infographic, which conveys it more effectively.

Image content on websites

A strategic visual approach will grab a user’s attention at every stage of the customer journey. Adapting popular written or audio content into visuals is also a smart way to draw fresh attention to evergreen content while making brand insights digestible and shareable.

The New York Times and The New Yorker’s Instagram stories repurpose in-depth textual content into visual stories that are easily consumed on Instagram. Both these publications use clickable action to build a bridge of engagement across digital channels, where an audience can explore a story in snippets and in-depth.

Perhaps what’s important to take away is how platforms inform content type. Social media marketing presents limitless opportunities to educate users about your products and services in an easy-to-understand format. In short, engaging visual content marketing boosts attention and retention.

#6. Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is a highlighted excerpt of text that appears at the top of a Google search results page in ‘Position 0’. It provides quick answers to search queries and is pulled from pages indexed by Google. The most common types of featured snippets are lists, steps, tables, and definitions.

According to marketing software SEMrush, featured snippets place websites at the top of SERPs, making them much more clickable. Their prominence in Google is an indicator of brand authority, which bodes well from a search engine and user perspective.

In particular, featured snippets take up 50% more of the screen on mobile screens, significantly increasing click-through rates that may even supersede higher organic links listed below. When writing copy for your website, think about how you can format your information in a way that’s most useful to users.

Interestingly, SEMrush found featured snippets appeared more often for long-tail keywords that indicate a specific intent at particular points in the sales funnel. A gym, for example, might optimize web content for the search term. When is the best time to work out? With a proper SEO writing strategy, it might well appear as a featured snipped, and improve click-through-rates.

#7. Show Don’t Tell

Online content with enticing images receives 94% more views than those without. If you’ve spent time crafting the perfect blog post, you’ll want to get as many eyes on it as possible. Using images adds meaning to the text, either by conveying emotion, evoking atmosphere, or further highlighting the topic.

Always consider what you want to accomplish with an image. What effect do you want it to have? Images use tends to fall into four common categories:

  • Entertain: These provoke smiles and spread goodwill. For example, memes.
  • Educate: These images share information and build authority. For example, infographics/graphs.
  • Provoke: These images surprise and prompt action or serious thought. For example, political cartoons.
  • Inspire: These images evoke emotions, encourage or uplift viewers. For example, images with quotes.

Choosing one effect helps hone on in the type of message or tone you wish to convey, although it is possible for these image categories to overlap from time to time.

Then, when it comes to social media, you should think visually when ideating content for these platforms. This is a necessary consideration for content as a whole. Do you need to write a blog post, or can you convey the same information via video, image, or infographic? As it is, video search results have 41% higher click-through rate than plain text.

Of course, the type of content you create, and competitive keywords inserted, will depend on which channels your target audiences use and respond to, as well as what business you have.

For instance, in the marketing world of eCommerce, product-related businesses should always have an image for every product you offer that’s high-quality and consistent with other product images.

#8. Calls to Action

Calls to action (CTA) are tactics used as part of conversion marketing to increase successful conversions. SEO copywriting that prompts an immediate response or encourages a sale is a CTA. Common examples of CTA conversions include:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Filling out and submitting a form
  • Attending a webinar
  • Clicking on an ad
  • Signing up for a free trial

Each conversion is designed to nudge prospects further down the sales funnel until a purchase is made—the ultimate conversion! Without a CTA, a visitor may not know the next steps to purchase a product or sign up for a newsletter; hence, they are important signposts to motivate action.

When executed well, CTAs emphasize the power of SEO copywriting. Without them, copy falls flat. Adding a strong call to action, especially in paid ads, convey the intent of your campaign to your audience.

A CTA can be subtle or blunt, creating a sense of urgency or gently steering audiences to take the next step. For example, Contact us for a quote! or Sign-up for weekly updates. These are simplistic, but you get the idea.

More than 90% of readers who read your headlines will also read your SEO copy. Either way, ignoring the potency of this SEO copywriting technique may cost thousands of dollars and many loyal customers.

Examples of CTA conversions

#9. Interlinking

Interlinking improves web page discoverability and helps establish site architecture. It refers to any links from one page of a domain, which are linked to another page within the same domain. For the sake of SEO copywriting, we’ll focus on editorial links as they improve content marketing strategy and time spent on a site.

And as a side note: If a page isn’t linked, it becomes harder to find and likely won’t be crawled by search engines. Proper user-friendly links ease user navigation with anchor texts that point to relevant and related content. For example, if your web page or about blog is about best workouts to gain muscle, you could link the phrase to your weekly gym classes itinerary.

Internal linking also boosts PageRank, which is a metric Google uses to measure the importance of pages based on how many backlinks it receives. Pages with more interlinking gain authority due to increased link juice. Link juice is slang used to describe how interlinking transmits positive properties onto a page and strengthens it.

Search engines perceive link juice as a recommendation, so the more interlinking you have, the stronger the recommendation you’re sending to Google. While PageRank is also dependent on the linking page’s authority, topical relevance, and more, every SEO tactic employed helps (bear in mind, there are over 200 ranking factors on Google).

Craft your SEO strategy to climb the rungs on Google search engines results ladder
Craft your SEO strategy to climb the rungs on Google search engines results ladder

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SEO copywriting has best practices, but they by no means limit the ability to create unique and actionable high-quality content. Some might even argue these search engine “constraints” inspire greater originality, which is exactly the kind of content that receives more traffic. Following our modern SEO copywriting tips will certainly improve your ranking, provided it forms part of a larger, strategic content marketing strategy.

We know not everyone is an SEO content writer who can easily write content after reading a brief, so we help businesses with their content marketing strategy development, including crafting perfect copy. Whether it’s a meta title, blog post, landing page, or figuring out keyword intent, Comrade Web Digital Marketing Agency has the expertise and experience to help your site rank higher. Find out how we can elevate your SEO copywriting.


I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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