Search engine optimization (SEO) allows search engines to find webpages easily. SEO includes a variety of best practices and strategies ranging from coding to web design to content. So what is SEO copywriting? SEO copywriting makes the text, or “copy,” of your website more findable for search engines.
You’ve no doubt heard of SEO before. But how important is SEO copywriting? What does an SEO copywriter actually do? Does SEO copywriting actually drive revenue? Let’s take a look.
What is SEO Copywriting? The Basics
SEO copywriting works specifically with your site’s text to make it more readable to search engines. The goal is to give pages higher search engine results page (SERP) positions. These pages will then earn more clicks, which means more customers and more sales. So, what is SEO copywriting in practice?
All SEO copywriters utilize an evolving set of strategies to either craft or improve copy anywhere on the site. This might include your blog, product descriptions, landing pages, home page, or even PPC advertisements. An SEO copywriter might be a specialist on your staff, a specialist with the digital marketing company you work with, or an outside contractor.
What Are SEO Copywriting Strategies?
To answer the question, what is SEO copywriting, we must explain these strategies and where they come from. SEO copywriting strategies are based on the algorithms that Google and other search engines use to crawl web content and arrange SERPs. These algorithms are a critical part of how search engines do business, so the exact details of these algorithms are not made public.
However, research into page performance, information released by Google, and SEO tools like Google Keyword Planner do reveal important trends that can be used in SEO copywriting. Keep in mind that these algorithms are constantly changing and the data SEO experts draw from them are somewhat speculative, since no one can actually see the algorithms themselves. This is why SEO best practices are similar from expert to expert, but not exactly the same.
Here are a few common elements and strategies SEO copywriters work with:
- Keywords: search engines use keywords to produce SERPs according to the terms users enter. As of Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013 this has become more complex. Google now recognizes the meaning and relationships between words (this is called “semantic understanding”). So, simply packing a page with keywords is no longer enough. In fact, it can actually hurt your page rank.
- Metadata: Metadescriptions, page titles, alternative text, and some other text attributes are not readily visible when you visit a page. Search engines use this information to understand what a page is and what it’s for. Constructing these properly can improve SEO.
- Page organization: Content using clear and consecutive headings, appropriate images, proper semantic markup, and other organizational elements tend to achieve higher SERP ranks.
- Links: The links used in your text as sources (outbound links), as well as links on other, high-quality sites referencing your content (backlinks), tell search engines how reliable or desirable your content is. All of your links make up your link profile, and (partially) determine your domain authority. This is how Google determines how reliable or desirable your entire site is. All of these things play a part in SERP position.
- Content quality: Readability, grammatical correctness and accurate data are all important elements of content quality. Content quality in turn partially determines whether or not other sites reference your page (provide backlinks), and whether keywords are used in a way that makes sense. This all plays a role in SERP position.
Is SEO Copywriting Important?
Answering the question “what is SEO copywriting” can be complex, but answering the question of whether or not SEO copywriting is important to you is simpler. SEO copywriters, and SEO experts in general, specialize mainly in organic search—how easily and how often users find your site through search queries. If organic search is an important part of your business, than SEO copywriting is also important.
Do You Need An SEO Copywriter?
This can be answered by calculating the value or prospective value of organic search volume. How many site visitors come from organic traffic, and how many of these become customers? Or, if you are not currently using SEO and your organic traffic is low, how much could your organic traffic be worth? Another way to consider this question might be, how many sales dollars from organic traffic are you losing out to competitors that do utilize high-quality SEO?
How to Estimate Revenue from SEO Copywriting
Used correctly, SEO copywriting can be a cost-effective digital marketing strategy to improve your website and gain more revenue with relatively low cost. It can be tough to accurately calculate ROI from SEO copywriting. However, there are methods you can use to make a rough estimation.
[ (competitor’s organic traffic amount) x (your estimated conversion rate) ] x (average sale amount) = revenue from competitive SEO
Find your competitor’s approximate organic website traffic using any of these web traffic tools. Could you optimize your site and compete? Keep in mind that site design also plays an important role here, not just copywriting. To approximate sales from organic traffic, apply the typical conversion rate you expect from prospective leads to customers. Then, multiply by this number by the average sale you would expect from a new customer, or lifetime customer value, whichever makes sense for your business.
[ (estimated keyword traffic) x (click-rate from achievable page position) ] = potential traffic
[ (potential traffic) x (expected conversion rate) ] x (average expected sale) = revenue from individual page SEO
Maybe you want to look at just a few pages individually, not entire sites. Here’s another method. First, use a tool like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Raven, or something similar to estimate monthly search traffic for a page’s target keyword. Do a search for this keyword or use the tools to find the first page of results. An estimated 30, 15, and 10% of traffic goes to the first, second and third spot, respectively. Could you improve your SEO on a page and rank for this keyword? Calculate the traffic you would get monthly based on the organic search traffic volume and estimated clicks. Then, use your conversion rate and expected sale amount to estimate revenue from this improvement.
What About Local SEO?
There is one other element to consider when estimating revenue from SEO copywriting: local SEO. Local SEO uses specific strategies to make your business show up to searchers in your area. This is particularly important to strictly brick-and-mortar businesses with mainly local customers, like restaurants, hair salons, spas, etc.
To get more accurate estimations, you’ll want to restrict your search data to your local area, which most SEO tools can do. Local SEO will also require slightly different strategies. For example, you’ll want to target location keywords as well as product or service keywords. You’ll also want to optimize your visibility on Google Maps and Google Business. You’ll also want to consider the importance of good reviews and accurate listing information, among other things.
Should You Hire an SEO Copywriter?
Now that you know what SEO copywriting is, and you have an estimation of how much you could gain from SEO copywriting improvements, there’s one final question to answer; Should you hire an SEO copywriter?
Your previous calculations may have already answered this for you. You can probably see, over time, how much you could gain from SEO copywriting improvements, and therefore how much you could reasonably invest. Let’s discuss the three main options for acquiring an SEO copywriter.
Hire a Staff SEO Copywriter
Adding a staff member is generally the most expensive option. However, if you are writing web content daily, organic traffic is critical, and you already have an in-house marketing team, this is a good option. This person should have experience in SEO copywriting, digital marketing, and some experience with best practices in web design. They should be able to explain, specifically, how they could improve SEO and tools they would need to do so.
Work with a Digital Marketing Agency
SEO copywriting is only one piece of a larger digital marketing puzzle. If your competitors have a strong digital presence and you want to compete, working with a reputable digital marketing agency is the fastest and most cost-effective way to do it. Your digital marketing agency will have staff experienced in SEO copywriting as well as best web design practices, digital advertising, ad design, social media, content marketing, email automation, and more.
Contract an SEO Copywriter
This is an inexpensive option if you only need to optimize a few pages, and are not interested in digital marketing as a whole. However, be careful about who you choose. Many businesses that claim to perform general “SEO services” outsource writing tasks to freelancers with no knowledge of SEO or Google algorithms. If your SEO copywriting is very inexpensive, you’re most likely paying for a writer’s time, not their skill. Just like an employee, a contractor should be able to explain how they would improve your content, what tools they would use, and why.
Now that you know what SEO copywriting is, how it can help your business, and what to look for in an expert, take a hard look at your website. How does it compete in the digital landscape? Where can you improve your content? Are their SERP spots you could easily compete for and improve your organic traffic? You may be surprised at the results you can achieve from improving your web visibility.