Crafting Good SEO Copy Is Harder Than You Think
The average high school essay contains 300 to 100 words.
A college essay weighs in at 1,500 to 5,000 words.
Yet a web page may contain over 1,000 words to rank for a moderately competitive keyword. For a coveted term like “plumber near me”, you may need a content pillar or an entire body of copy devoted to a topic.
In other words, a career’s worth of college essays.
Copywriting is the most painful and time-consuming part of information website development. Time-consuming but necessary to build a site that brings “free” organic traffic, that can wean itself off the welfare of $10-per-click Google Adwords.
Search-optimized copy must also engage, or visitors will bounce (leave the site). It should serve your business goal of turning visits into conversions: phone calls and form submissions.
Not every agency is up to it — they’re too busy training new employees and outsourcing.
Culture Cube can help. Call us.
The Sad Reality of Most Small Business Sites
According to Search Engine Journal, “Local business websites receive 50% of their traffic from organic search, with 37% coming from direct visits… 13% of local businesses receive fewer than 100 visitors to their sites each month, while 55% receive fewer than 500.”
Translated, 55% of local business sites like yours get fewer than 500 visits per month, or 16 visits daily.
The problem is that most small businesses have information sites with almost no information. They launch a spanking new website, broadcasting their services to the world in a glorious…
- Water heaters
- Leak detection
Are you kidding? How are customers supposed to understand what they do, let alone Google, whose poor little search bots crawl 30 trillion web pages 100 billion times a month?
You’ve got to give Google something of value. Information. Content. Well-written, comprehensive, and optimized web copy that establishes you as an authority in your field and a relevant destination for search.
You Get What You Pay for — Except When You Don’t
All marketing agencies offer website and SEO copywriting services.
The question is, who writes that copy for you?
- An intern learning the ropes?
- Someone fresh out of college learning on the job?
- A local freelancer or contract worker overseas?
They never say in the fine print.
But we can tell you from our days in the trenches that:
- Large agencies don’t assign their best writers, or even competent writers, to small accounts.
- Small agencies often lack SEO and writing expertise. Their best people leave at the first crack for the greener pastures — green as in dollars — of corporate content development.
- Many agencies outsource their content to freelancers and overseas workers, who write about everything from bridal shower planning to commercial electrical panels. They’re not subject matter experts because they can’t be. They’re covering too much ground, they’re under a deadline, and they’re delivering mediocre content by the metric ton.
So there you have it. Even when you pay for quality content, it’s a coin flip. You may get excellent results; more likely, you won’t.
And here’s where we insert a shameless plug for Culture Cube’s copywriting services because:
- We do most writing in-house. Occasionally we hire contractors, but only people we know personally and can vouch for.
- Our writers have years of SEO experience. They don’t need, nor would they tolerate SEO micromanagement.
- Some Culture Cube staff have taught the writers to write at multimillion-dollar corporations.
- We specialize in websites for local businesses. We understand your industry. You’ll get useful web copy, not fluff.
Website Copy vs. SEO Copy: Is There a Difference?
Web copy is any verbiage intended for a web page.
Type a love letter to your cat, post it on a website (not a blog), and voila! — you’re now a website copywriter. Of sorts.
If you did your keyword research, inserted the right keywords in headings, included enough “proof” keywords to establish relevance, and professed your undying love at length, you might also be an SEO copywriter. Of sorts.
In our view, any web copy worth its salt should also be SEO copy. It should be optimized for search to the extent that it can be.
Otherwise, we’re writing copy that may never be seen. Search-optimized copy drives the traffic that drives the sales, or at least a large portion of them.
Good web copy should accomplish one or more things:
- Inform, as in service page copy.
- Instruct, as in subscription page copy.
- Convert, as in a product page or any page that sells a service.
- Amuse. Here, you’re on your own. We don’t draft amusing copy for plumbers.
- Attract backlinks & traffic. We’ve mentioned the dismal traffic for most small businesses. With 93% of consumers using internet search to find a local business, your company may not even survive without an optimized site.
What’s the Point, If They Don’t Read it?
Let’s compare two bodies of copy below. They contain identical text in different formatting. Please read one or the other and submit a report by day’s end.
Culture Cube is an Upland, CA-based digital marketing agency. Services include website design and development, including e-commerce, search engine optimization, marketing copy and content development, email and inbound marketing, paid search and Google Local Ads, Google My Business management, conversion analysis and the user experience, etc. We create custom databases, tie e-commerce to inbound marketing and automation, and integrate PR, social media, and SEO in all aspects of marketing.
Culture Cube is an Upland, CA-based digital marketing agency.
- Website design & development, including e-commerce
- Search engine optimization
- Marketing copy & content development
- Email & inbound marketing
- Paid search & Google Local Ads
- Google My Business management
- Conversion analysis & the user experience
We create custom databases, tie e-commerce to inbound marketing and automation, and integrate PR, social media, and SEO in all aspects of marketing.
*** End of copy formatting example ***
Which copy did you read, A or B? Which made you want to run for the hills?
No one, regardless of patience or education, wades through monolithic text blocks online. Maybe a masochist, but certainly no customer.
Online readers don’t read. They scan. Their eyes dart from heading to heading, bullet point to point, and short paragraph to paragraph.
Web Copy Should Be Clear & Simple
How often have you visited a site where you couldn’t find intelligible information? Where products lacked descriptive copy, even basic information like size and weight? Where you couldn’t tell what a company does?
Some of us remember the Dilbert Jargonator, a subversively comical tool that could take plain English and transmogrify it into the most twisted corporatese. Sadly, the Jargonator has gone the way of Netscape, but the dot.com boom left us a legacy of hated buzzwords that still plague web copy today.
- Customer journey
- Core competency
- Visibility — oh wait! That one’s actually useful for SEO.
**** is uniquely positioned to bring together policy architects and technical experts in public safety, with leaders from all levels of government and private sector partners to forge solutions to emergency management challenges.
Yes, friends, this gobbledygook appeared on an actual business website. Please write to us if you understand what it means. And be honest — did you have to read it more than once?
Convoluted, pretentious prose won’t impress your readers: it will lose them. And long, convoluted, and pretentious prose may as well be an invitation to your customers to shop elsewhere.
We can clarify your copy and pare it down, eliminate redundancy and give it punch, seed it with keywords, and enliven the cadence. Most business writing contains volumes of padding that would try the patience of Job.
We say this from experience, having once taken a six-page business proposal and trimmed it to a page and a half, changing nothing of its essential meaning. As a short business proposal, it was a relatively painless affair.
Our Copy Writing Process & Philosophy
1. We research the keywords.
Some sexy high-volume keywords never lead to a sale, while long-tail local keywords may convert like mad. We focus on keywords with business potential. Total traffic volume matters more than high rank for a pet keyword.
2. We write for customers, not search engines.
Back in the day, search-optimized copy went something like this:
Are you overspending on Google Adwords? Culture Cube’s small business SEO services can help! Our small business SEO services will supercharge your online business to compete with other small businesses! We care about your small business and will get your small business SEO to work for you!
By now, Google, Bing, and other search engines have evolved beyond keyword density. They consider context, keyword ecosystems, and the proof terms (related keywords) of a topic.
One can write much more natural copy and get it to rank.
3. We write for the online reader.
It sounds like a statement of the obvious. Of course, we write web copy for the online reader.
But the fact is, many so-called “web copywriters” don’t.
Online readers are impatient and restless. Their attention spans are mayfly short.
Massive blocks of text? Flat, unengaging copy? Longwinded intros?
They won’t read them. They’ll bounce.
Moreover, heat map data tells us that many visitors won’t bother to scroll — certainly not at length.
With that in mind, at Culture Cube:
- We write copy to be scanned, not studied word-for-word. Short paragraphs. Bullet points. Generous white space.
- We write in the language of the customer. No jargon. Tools like Grammarly keep us from getting carried away. Your copy will be in plain Engish, as measured on the Flesch Kincaid readabilty scale.
- We frontload essential marketing points on every page and offer a call to action (usually a “Contact Us” button).
- We include informative, keyword-rich headings. Too-cute headings confuse site visitors and offer nothing to search engines.
Copy that reads like a Wikipedia page may vault to the top of the search results, but your customers will hate it. And it won’t convert to sales.
4. We consider E-A-T.
E-A-T refers to “expertise, authority, and trust,” a concept Google introduced in 2018 to reduce content spam in search results. Quality content written by experts and posted on trusted sites will rank better than SEO spam.
One page of informative, well-written content is worth more than 100 pages of SEO fluff — which is another reason why a service business specialist should write your copy.
5. We write for length when necessary.
In the Wild West days of the internet, when SEO was easy and any fool could become an “expert,” simple spam tricks actually worked. Keyword spam. Link spam. Content spam.
A press release, packed with the right backlinks and widely distributed, could move the needle for a high-value keyword.
Now that Google is older and wiser, spamming can get your site banished from Google’s index. Google rewards content abiding by the principles of “E-A-T-L”: expertise, authority, trustworthiness, and length.
That’s not a real acronym (we made it up), but it illustrates the point. Authoritative copy 1,500 words long will usually outrank 500-word copy, all else being equal. Google rewards thorough information.
Lengthy copy also casts a broader keyword net; your page will rank for hundreds of low-search volume keywords that, as an aggregate, can drive considerable traffic volume.
On a small business site averaging 300 visits a day, we’ve seen a single blog post account for 20% of search traffic.
6. We design websites around copy, not vice-versa
Inflexible web page templates are the bane of SEO. They truncate copy, limit headings, and often sacrifice text for the sake of graphics.
At Culture Cube, we complete the copy — or at least a fair percentage of it — before we even begin discussing design.
Web copy drives the traffic and conversions. Without copy to generate leads, your website is a glorified online portfolio that few people will ever see.
Why It Pays to Hire a Web Copy Specialist
A qualified website copywriter, well-versed in the principles of SEO and conversion, can be the difference between a site that thrives or dies on the vine. Good web copy is an investment that yields dividends for years to come.
- Most business owners and marketing managers are too busy to write web copy.
- Many “web copywriters” don’t understand how people read online or what it takes to rank in Google. They’re just cheap labor, not true specialists.
- Good web copy can make a huge difference in traffic volume and conversions. A page that ranks on the first page of Google can generate hundreds or even thousands of extra visitors each month.
- Writing quality web copy requires expertise, research, and time — three things most business owners don’t have enough of.
- Hiring a web copy specialist is one of the best investments you can make in your online marketing efforts. Quality web copy will pay for itself in increased traffic and sales.
Call us when you’re ready to improve your website’s traffic and conversion rates. We’ll be happy to answer your questions, put you in direct contact with our copywriters (if that’s what you wish), or provide a free quote for service.
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