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Gavin Hirst - Thursday 31st December 2020


How to optimise your copy for keywords and keep Google happy

Whilst the art of optimising web pages has changed significantly over the past ten years, there are still a number of fundamental tactics that are still really important if you want your content to rank for keywords that are going to drive relevant traffic to your website.

Long gone are the days of keyword stuffing. That, however, doesn’t mean that keywords are no longer important.

Whilst there has been a definite shift towards the importance of optimising your copy for ‘topics’, the fact of the matter is this: if your copy doesn’t contain a keyword you want to rank for, it’s highly unlikely that you will rank for it.

And that’s what makes keyword research such an important and integral part of your SEO and content strategies.

Write for your audience, not for Google

Whilst it’s important to optimise your copy for the keywords you identify in your keyword research, it’s perhaps even more important to use those keywords in a way that makes sense to your audience.

You need to ensure you are using those keywords in the right places. A keyword-stuffed in the wrong part of your copy can throw up some immediate warning signs to your audience about the quality of the content on your website.

Neither your audience nor Google wants to see copy stuffed with keywords.

It looks unnatural to both.

So, the big question is this: how do I write copy that makes sense to users and also works for search engines?

Don’t force it and keep things natural

One tool that we have really come to lean on is SEMrush and their excellent SEO Content Assistant. This tool allows you to enter a target keyword or a set of target keywords, and it then integrates with Google Docs to analyse your own copy against the top 10 ranking websites for the terms you are targeting – very neat indeed.

What we have found over time is that it’s important to write your copy first.

The tool will provide you with a list of suggested keywords that are topically relevant to the ones you have entered, as well as keywords that are commonly found on the top ten ranking sites. Whilst it’s important to consider these, we don’t want to try and force these into our own content if they don’t make for a natural fit.

That’s why we stick to our tried and tested technique and use the tool to support our efforts.

Our process is always fairly consistent:

  1. Carry our in-depth keyword research
  2. Review and refine
  3. Write copy
  4. Review and edit
  5. Use SEMrush Content Template to check our copy against top-ranking sites
  6. Review and edit as required
  7. Publish

We try to review and refine at every stage to make sure we are not missing any potential opportunities and we have found that the SEMrush tool helps us with that process.

Each content piece receives a score out of 10 and our aim is always to achieve a score of at least 9/10. Our first goal is to ensure that the content piece scores a minimum of 8.5/10 before we make any refinements based on the suggestions made by the tool. That means that the content is likely to be optimised for the audience and not necessarily for Google. From there, we can make the additional tweaks necessary for Google as long as we don’t compromise the copy and ‘force’ keywords into the copy that doesn’t fit naturally.

It’s not just about the copy

One thing to remember when creating a piece of content is that content is about more than just copy.

We try and maximise every possible opportunity on a piece of content to include highly relevant keywords. Tactics include labelling images correctly, both in terms of a description that sits on the page and an optimised alt tag that helps visually impaired visitors or people using a screen reader, including internal navigation with anchor links to help people get to key areas of the content efficiently, and including a relevant footer on the page which helps to get people to a relevant and related area of the website.

Use charts and graphs to help break up your copy and make sure these are also labelled in the same way you would label an image – providing descriptions of the charts or even adding an embed option helps with the user experience on your site as well as making your content more shareable.

Summaries can really help

We have also found that bullet points and summaries can really help to reinforce the keywords you are trying to optimise your content for. Whether this is a short bullet point summary list at the end of each key section of your content piece or a TLDR (Too long, didn’t read) summary right at the start of your piece to summarise the content piece for those who don’t have the time to read the full piece, summaries are a great way to build in your primary keywords and really make them stand out to the reader.

Summary

Right on cue.

We always try to summarise all of our blog posts just to sum up the key points raised above and make it easy for you to take away some really key points. From this post, the key takeaways include:

  • Write for your audience, not Google. Keep your language natural and don’t try and stuff too many keywords into your copy or repeat those keywords too many times.
  • Constantly review and edit at every stage. Read your copy out loud and if it sounds unnatural when you read it, it probably is.
  • Maximise all elements of your content. Label images, graphs, and charts using relevant keywords and use internal navigation where relevant and appropriate.
  • Summarise your content at relevant points. For long pieces, include a summary at the beginning and for long sections, try and summarise before readers move on to the next. As you can see, we also favour an end of piece summary to leave the reader with memorable takeaways.

Hopefully, this provides you with some good advice for creating your next piece of content. Stick to there key tips and you will not go far wrong.

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