7 Copywriting Tips: SEO-friendly Copy that Converts

Pat Marcello

May 14, 20145 min read
7 Copywriting Tips

SEO isn’t just about traffic. It’s about sales, too.

>You can have all the traffic you want, but if you’re online for the money? You need copy that is a) SEO friendly and that b) converts. If you omit one for the other, you’re totally missing the boat.

What to do? What to do?

Use these seven easy steps and you’ll see it’s NOT that hard. 

1. Be sure to do some preliminary keyword research

Most copywriters guess about keywords. They’re not SEOs and so, they use general terms about the niche that come off the top of their heads. An SEO is smarter. An SEO understands that though links might go bye-bye, as Matt Cutt’s suggested in his Google Webmasters video last month, and keywords become a thing of the past, for now, both matter as much as ever. It’s important to write with great keywords in mind.

Yes, things should still be “natural,” but sometimes, it’s just as easy to use a keyword phrase that is highly searched with low competition as it is to use a generic one. Right? So, get on over to your favorite keyword research tool and lay some groundwork! Pick some key keyword phrases before you start to write.

Just don’t overdo it. A keyword phrase here or there, goes a long way. The days of stuffing are LONG over. Be diligent, not dopey.

2. Use a keyword phrase in your headline

Yes, prominence still plays a role in SEO. What stands out will be noticed first. So, use what you can first. Since a headline is considered important, as it’s usually in an <h1> tag. Be sure to try fitting a keyword phrase in there.

You’re clever. You can do it. Just figure out what the biggest benefit would be to your potential customer or client and work that into your headline, hopefully with a keyword phrase.

Also remember your <title> tag. Use something compelling to “sell” the click, but try to get a keyword phrase in there, too. Always remember, “WIIFM (What’s in it for me?),” the mantra of copy. Tell people why they should click-through to visit your site. Why is your product the best/least expensive/most effective or most unique way to solve their problem?

3. Focus on them

Any copywriter worth his or her salt knows that copy isn’t about YOU or your company. It’s all about the customer. Again — What’s in it for them?

Think about the last time you went to a website to buy something you saw on Pinterest. Did you want to learn about the company’s board or know how long the company had been in business? Probably not. You just wanted to see the seller’s site and price the object of your desire. You didn’t care who they were at all. Well, except for security reasons. I think we all know better than to buy things from sites that look like a three-year-old designed them these days.

But isn’t that AFTER you check out the item, whatever it may be? People want to know they won’t be sorry about giving you their credit card number, so you should have an "About" page toward the back of your site.

Trust signals are important, too. Get one from the Better Business Bureau, PayPal, your bank or sites like McAfee’s Hacker Safe. Believe it or not, these do increase conversions and make people feel more secure. Search engines like to see them, too.

4. Stop pretending you’re still in the third grade

Hardly anyone was more indoctrinated than me. After 12 years in a Catholic school, using a sentence fragment felt really scary. I was sure that Sr. Mary Virginia (not a real nun) would smack me upside the head. But guess what?

Nothing happened!

I used that sentence fragment and my copy read better. Why? Because it’s how we speak to one another. We often use fragments.

Dangling your participles, paragraphing where it doesn’t make sense and breaking some (not all) of the rules of grammar can actually be good for your copy. Try to write like you speak, NOT how you were trained to write way back when you were 8 years old.

(Just don’t allow me to see you write “less” when “fewer” is required. Please. Makes me nuts.)

5. Use pre-heads, sub-heads and deck copy

A pre-headline before the main headline is great for preparing your reader. What will they find out if they keep reading? Start with a question, an interesting fact or statistic, or something to intrigue your audience. Then, they’ll have to keep reading to find out more.

After your headline, you still want to keep people’s eyeballs going down the page. A sub-head that furthers the intent of the headline can be quite valuable for that. Remember, the job is to keep people interested by telling them how you’ll solve some seemingly insurmountable problem: Did you know that some flea treatments can actually KILL your dog?

Get the Only Treatment Guaranteed to Rid Your Dog of the Mutant Killer Fleas Plaguing the Country — Without Hurting Your Pet

Itch Mountain© Flea-B-Gone will have your dog smiling in 2 hours’ time! Our patented formula is safe for your pet and for the environment, too. If you aren’t completely satisfied… Our president will eat a bug on national television.

Anyone remember Cal Worthington in So. Cal.? I never saw that man eat a bug once, but… He sure sold a lot of cars. Anyway, you see what I’m getting at? Use all the copy tools at your disposal. Don’t skimp.

6.  Stop when you’re done

Long copy is said to convert better than short copy. Well… Maybe it does. But it sure bores the heck out of me, and I’m guessing those 14-page sales letters bore you, too. Yet, that may well be what your product requires. Here's the thing…

Stop when it feels right.

Don’t ever keep writing because you think nothing less than a 14-page sales letter will do. Personally, I prefer to read important things I need to know, rather than be sold. Never allow people to even think they’re being sold (even if they know it), and never over-sell. Ever. You won't see many sales if you do.

7. Remember it’s always about benefits NOT features

Listing all the ingredients of your product isn’t going to make it sell. People don’t care about that. This is probably the most important element of all — forget the features and remember what the features DO for people.

Here’s what I mean about our mythical flea-killing product:

Features Benefits
Uses Cider Vinegar The cider vinegar in our product is natural, and it won’t hurt your pet or the environment.
Comes in a spray bottle Our easy whisper-quiet spray bottle won’t frighten your pet and allows you to get into the most stubborn spots, like under the tail, where fleas reside.
Costs $5.99 Our low, low price saves you money as it’s only half the expense of similar products on the market.

Don’t tell them what the product IS. Tell people what the product can do for them.

All set? Great! Now, go and write 50 pre-heads, 50 sub-heads, and 50 headlines. Use the best for all three and then, test, test, test! You can make any copy better by testing. Swear.

Plus, have fun with it. A lot of copy is so darned serious out there that it’s boring. Don’t be boring.

If you’re boring, people will pull their hair out while reading. Write good copy.

Author Photo
Pat MarcelloPat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Pat’s last article for Semrush was "Google's Fetch and Render: Why It's Important."