SEO Copywriting: How To Write Digital Content That Performs Well in Search

Post written by Grady Neff, SEO Consultant at Demandwell 

Grady Neff

Grady has been working in SEO for over a decade. 

In his free time, he makes his own music with a band called Bonnie Lola. 

Just imagine for a moment, all of the people on the earth trying to create things online. Teenagers dancing on TikTok, rappers on SoundCloud, influencers writing about the best makeup brands out there. The sheer volume of content being produced is staggering, and simply creating things online is no longer enough to get your website discovered through all of the noise.

Google acts as a filter for all that content, using relevance as the critical metric to quantify whose information is better, or more pertinent for a searcher online. Google’s methods to quantify and score relevance all come down to the text it can read and understand on your website. 

SEO bridges that gap. With the right knowledge about what search engines care about, you can tailor your content to be as optimized as possible (and thus perform better).

Here are the SEO copywriting best practices you need to know, in order for your content to rank. 

Related Terminology Flows Downstream

Think of your website like a series of pipes and pools where water flows. Your homepage on the top level domain (TLD) is the master pool of water where everything ends up. Every page on your site acts as another water source that flows down a pipe toward your homepage. The more pages you have, the more water flows to your final pool. 

Search engines use bots to crawl through websites and read the information that’s published. Having the right technical format of your website is critical to ensure these bots can even read your content. Then, having the right content on each page allows a bot to understand and score that page against all others for specific keywords. 

Just like water flowing from page to page on your site, always downhill toward the homepage, these bots follow the paths of water to every page. This is how Google’s algorithm understands topic clusters for given terms. To rank and qualify for any primary term like “software,” there are a variety of other terms that will help Google understand your specific “software” context. These are sometimes referred to as co-occurrence terms. Including the right co-occurrence terms on a page will further increase your website’s score. 

A website with more pipes and pages through which a bot finds related content and flows to more related text will perform better than a website with a single page of optimized content. The bigger your system of pipes, the bigger your pool of content grows for the TLD, and the more relevant Google will think you are. 

Creating this interconnected system for search bots to paddle through reinforces keyword attribution, increases the keyword portfolio of your website overall, and in turn increases the opportunities for crawlers to score your site. Internal links, sitemaps and site navigation are the pipes, but you need a city’s worth of flowing infrastructure to show relevance for primary terminology that drives qualified traffic to the site.

Critical SEO Page Elements

Full disclosure: You need on-page optimization in addition to the interconnected flow of relevant pages in order for your site to perform well. SEO content optimization should always be applied to existing pages on your website – this is what helps Google understand what your page is about. Having the interconnected flow of relevant pages is critical to increase relevance of your domain. 

Demandwell finds and prioritizes the search terms businesses should create pages for to ensure relevance. Then it gives an on-page optimization structure for each of these Demand pages as well. But it doesn’t do the entire job for you, you still need to know about SEO copywriting. 

There is one basic thing about SEO copywriting that many people know – utilize your target keyword throughout the page, wherever it naturally fits. As you create content, you should indeed include your primary term, but you also need to include related search terms that support the overall topic of that keyword. Example: to perform best for the term “software” it would be beneficial to include co-occurrence terms on-page like ”types of software,” “software programs,” or “user interfaces” – things that people might be searching for in addition to software.

Here are the other critical SEO page elements for optimizing website copy. 

Meta Information:

This is content written into the code of your website, used by bots, and for rendering information outside your website, looking in. The image below is a screenshot of how search engines render this meta information, on a search results page.

Title Tag: 60 characters or less

This is the purple text above. Include your primary keyword here, write within the character limit to summarize the information on your page, and entice people to click the link.

Meta description: 160 characters or less

This is the paragraph text beneath the title tag. Include your primary keyword here as well, and any other related terms that a reader might be interested in to prove relevance.

URL slug: no practical limit on length

The URL itself should be logical with regards to the format of your website, but most importantly it should include keywords, since it can help add value in the eyes of Google for the page. 

Page Content: 

This is the information that you input into your CMS, that visitors read once they’re on the page. This is the primary place for those users to engage with your brand and understand if your solution is the best fit for their problems. This is also where bots track and quantify keyword relevance based on co-occurrence terms and how often they find this page from other links (internal or external). 

H1 (and only 1 H1): no practical limit on length

Your H1 should be short and to the point, clearly summarizing what this page is about, and why a visitor should read your in-depth content. It’s critical to include your target keyword here for SEO purposes, but also to clarify the page’s purpose. A poetic title on a page that has no practical connection to the information included is a critical error, for both users and SEO performance. 

H2’s, H3’s and H4’s: no practical limit on length

Additional headers throughout your page are scored higher than paragraph text, and you may use as many as these as are needed to divide content sections. Do not wrap entire sections of content in header tags, this may be viewed as SEO manipulation. Do include related terms in your headers to give context to your main focus keyword. 

Paragraph text: no practical limit on length

Standard text on site is the primary place to include all your related terminology, both for search engine bots and your visitors. Explain the purpose of your page in depth, and try to utilize as many related terms as possible. The more text on your page, the better it will perform. Thin content, or not having enough copy on a page, is an SEO detractor. 

Image Alt Text: 125 characters or less

Images and other forms of media require alt-text, or meta information, for bots to understand what the file actually is. Bots can neither see an image nor understand its meaning, nor can they understand video, iframes or other types of dynamically loaded content (Javascript sites have been known to cause a lot of SEO performance problems). To gain SEO value for it, you must manually input content via an alt tag (or for video, through the use of closed captioning). Include your primary term, or any related terminology that might be beneficial.

Internal Links: wherever natural traffic flow should occur for a user. For SEO improvements, ideally limit links to anchor text keywords. 

As you produce content for your website, be sure to create hyperlinks from text to other pages in your domain. Search engines follow these links to other pages (back to our water flowing analogy) and by revisiting certain pages from certain link text, it will remember and assign additional value. The more frequently a bot returns to a given page, the more likely it is that a bot will quantifiably score the page better. The keywords you choose also matter – imagine that the text you link is telling Google, “this page is the expert on this topic.”

Note For The Product Marketers Out There

Your brand, product, and how you connect with your audience is a critical component to making a website that converts. For SEO specifically, take care to balance branded and product terminology with exact match SEO keywords. A branded term that might carry meaning with relation to your brand, services, product, or features won’t apply any quantitative value for SEO. If you want to improve traffic to the site and increase conversions, it’s best to lean into what people are currently searching for, and then blend in your product names and branded terminology. Still be sure to use those primary and co-occurrence keywords in key places like meta information and page headers, and weave in your branded names without replacing critical terms!

In conclusion…

One optimized page is the minimum requirement for SEO initiation, but it alone is not strong enough to flag down a search crawler, and quantifiably register better than another domain. It takes hundreds and sometimes thousands of pages with related and rich SEO performance content to show search engines that your website is relevant for a given term. With the tidal wave of content that people produce everyday, you’ll need to produce more to even begin making a dent in SEO growth.