As a copywriter, or anyone who is writing content for a brand or business, it is important to have a strong understanding of SEO ranking factors. A few minor tweaks or edits to the way you write, format and load content to your website could have a significant effect on your content’s performance in Google’s search engine results pages.
There are over 200 different factors or ‘signals’ that Google tracks that determine where your site gets indexed. If you’ve been reading BeKonstructive’s blogs for a while, you’ll have seen our previous article ‘A Simplified Approach to Understanding SEO’, where we break down the 200 factors into three broad categories: technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.
In this article, we’re going to start breaking down some of those 200 factors, starting with 10 that are of particular interest to copywriters. As a team of Brisbane copywriters ourselves, every piece of copy that we write for our clients is written in line with the below algorithm signals, ensuring that our work always performs well in Google.
10 Copywriting SEO Factors:
Metadata includes a page title and page description tell Google what your page and content are about. We’ve written a really detailed article about metadata which you can find here – we recommend checking that out if you’re not familiar with the concept.
Using your keyword or phrase in the metadata’s title tag contributes to higher rankings, especially if the keyword is at the start of the title tag.
Two: Keyword Usage in Page Title (H1)
Using the keyword or phrase in the page title of your article is another way that copywriters can make sure their articles get indexed for the right terms. Using the keyword in the page title and formatting that page title using the H1 tag (of which there should only ever be one per page) signals to Google that the content below is going to be highly relevant to the keyword.
Three: Keyword Density
Keyword density is a tightrope that every copywriter needs to get comfortable walking. If you don’t use the keyword in your copy frequently enough, then you risk not getting indexed for your target keyword. BUT – use it too many times (referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’), and you risk getting picked up as spam.
The industry benchmark for keyword density is 1-2%, so about once per 100 words. This includes keyword variations as well – so if your keyword is ‘Brisbane SEO’, then you might aim to have variations like SEO Brisbane, SEO services Brisbane, Brisbane SEO agency etc once every 100 words of your article.
Four: Content Length
A recent study concluded that the average first page Google results sits at around 1,400 words in length. The longer your content is, the more opportunities you have to use your keyword and variations, and the more in-depth you can cover a particular topic.
We know that Google prefers detailed and informative content over short, superficial content – so make sure your copy offers the reader valuable insight into your topic, and provides information or insights that are unique.
Five: Related Keywords and Phrases
Building off of my example below regarding related keywords, Google uses a system called ‘LSI Keywords’ to help it identify the semantic and contextual meaning behind keywords. For example, if you are writing about ‘Apples’ – are you writing about fruit, or computers? Google searches your content for related terms like ‘fruit’, or ‘technology’ to help it determine what your content is about and ensure that your page is indexed for the correct search terms and phrases. So being mindful of using terminology and being descriptive in your writing can help signal to Google what your content is about.
Six: The Hummingbird Update
Google rolled out one of the biggest updates to their algorithm in 2013 called ‘Google Hummingbird’. You can read about the update in detail here, but a summary of the key points includes:
- Changes to the way Google assesses language, conversation, and context on a page. This is when ‘keyword stuffing’ became outlawed, and writers were encouraged to write more ‘naturally’ or conversationally. This update means we are no longer required to come up with creative ways to try and work ‘copywriting Brisbane’ into sentences – if it doesn’t sound natural, Google can pick up on it.
- The other major change worth mentioning from Hummingbird, is that this is when Google started ranking individual pages of a website rather than just the homepage. For example, BeKonstructive is a website about marketing. Before hummingbird, if you typed in ‘copywriting’ and our website ranked, it would be our homepage that Google took you to. You’d then be required to navigate to the copywriting page yourself. Now, when you type in ‘copywriting’ and we rank, it will take you directly to our copywriting landing page.
Seven: Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can negatively affect your website’s visibility in Google. There aren’t any ‘grey’ areas with this. A lot of digital marketers think that if you change it slightly (I see ‘30% different’ thrown around a lot) that you can get away with it. But ultimately, if Google catches you trying to reuse the same content repeatedly on your website to rank for more terms or have a larger website, it will reduce the visibility of the effected pages.
Eight: Image Optimisation
Yes, when we talk about ‘optimising your on-page content’, we mean ALL your content, not just the text. There are several relevancy signals that Google picks up from your images. These include keyword usage in the file name, alt text, title, description, and caption.
So, if you’re loading images with file names like GFAUS526_FinalV6.jpg then an easy SEO win for you is to start using keywords in your file names. Also, as a bonus tip – image file size can also affect your SEO. Lots of large images on a page can slow the load speed of your site down, which has a negative effect on your SEO. Reducing the file size of your images and saving them as .jpg files instead of .png files can improve the load time of your pages.
Nine: Content Recency
How new or ‘fresh’ your content is can play a role in your Google performance, especially for time-sensitive search phrases. A lot of Google listings now include the date that articles and content was published or last updated. Giving key website pages a content refresh every couple of months can help you maintain your organic rankings.
The final SEO ranking factor we’re going to leave you with today is ‘readability score’. Readability is another tricky one like keyword density, where you need to find the ‘sweet spot’ between too-hard and too-easy.
You may have seen that SEO Yoast and some other SEO tools talk about readability and reading level – but how much this effects your ranking is up for debate. Our general rule of thumb is to make sure that your readability score isn’t too high – you don’t want to make your content inaccessible to people by using too much jargon or complicated terminology. But if you dumb it down too much, you might end up sounding like a spammy content mill or scraped text.
Our recommendation is to use a readability scoring tool to help you rework tricky/complicated parts of your text, shorten long sentences, and remove jargon, and then leave it at that.
Improving your SEO copywriting:
These ten copywriting-related tips are just the tip of the SEO-writing iceberg. There are over 200 signals that feed into Google’s algorithm to determine your ranking in Google. Over the next few months, we’re going to be breaking these signals down into bite-sized pieces, 10 at a time, to help our readers wrap their head around the complex concept of SEO.
While not all of the factors relate directly to copywriting or content creation, having a thorough and comprehensive understanding of how SEO works will enable you to write stronger, higher-performing copy. Whether you are an aspiring copywriter, or a business owner who has to wear many hats including the marketing department hat, we hope you have found this content helpful!
If you have any questions or want more information about our SEO copywriting services, we invite you to get in touch or join the conversation on our socials.