Imagine you could get your search traffic to hang on your every word.
If every click from Google were to stick. People would glide down your page with ease.
And, by the end of it, transform themselves into your loyal fans. Or, even better – your repeat customers. How great would that be?
But right now, that feels like it’s a whole world away, doesn’t it?
- Your bounce rates are through the roof
- Your on page time is less than the average sneeze
- Your conversion rates are shocking
But, it doesn’t have to be this way:
The secrets of the best SEO copywriters are only a few scrolls away
And, all you have to do to learn them for absolutely free is scroll down the page.
Because in this article I’m going to show you exactly what you need to do to create SEO rich content that converts more highly than ever before.
Table Of Contents
- What Is SEO Copywriting?
- 1. Hook Your Reader With A Question
- 2. Build ‘Em Up And Knock ‘Em Down
- 3. Hack Your Reader’s Psychology With Open Loops
- 4. Ignore Your Teacher’s Writing Advice
- 5. Do This To Hook Those Pesky Skim Readers
- 6. Create A Clickable Table Of Contents
- 7. Use Power Words To Create Emotions
- 8. Optimise Your Content For “Attention Efficiency”
- 9. The APP Method
- 10. Call In The Bucket Brigade
- 11. Make Your Long Tail Keywords Sound Natural
- 12. Clean Up Your Bad Code
- 13. Write For A Middle School Reading Level
- 14. Power Up Your Title Tags
- 15. The Meta Description Hack You’ve Always Needed
- 16. Mind-Control Your Readers With A Serif Font
- 17. Use The Active Voice
- 18. Use Grammarly To Make Sure Your Content Is Up To Scratch
What Is SEO Copywriting?
SEO copywriting is about crafting content that targets specific keywords with high levels of engagement to keep your readers hooked.
Your content exists to engage the readers, build the brand, and convert. You have to make it engaging enough for the readers to stay on your site and follow the links further down the funnel.Surfer SEO
This has a number of benefits such as increasing time on page, reducing bounce rates, increasing conversion and sending key quality signals to Google’s ranking algorithms.
Sounds complicated right?
But it doesn’t have to be with these 18 SEO Copywriting strategies-
1. Hook Your Reader With A Question
Do you know what’s amazing about human psychology?
I didn’t know this, but when I first learned about it I kicked myself. It was just so damn obvious! And it transformed how I approach SEO copywriting.
What is it?
It’s that people are hard-wired to find the answers to the questions they’ve just been asked. The human brain will always look to complete the information loop.
Do you know why that is?
It’s because our brains are designed to find closure and keep us hooked until we do.
And the best part of it all?
It happens subconsciously and most people never realize it’s happening to them. But, they can feel that need to read the next sentence.
…did you figure out that I’ve been doing it to you since the start of this section?
Later in this article, I’m going to show you how to take advantage of this psychological flaw using a copywriting hack called “open loops”.
But first I want you to understand that questions are a powerful tool.
You can use specific questions like:
- Are you struggling to lose weight?
- Do you know why 99.9% of people fail to make money online?
- Do you ever wish you could just quit your job and travel the world?
- Does this sound like you?
- It sounds crazy, right?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
2. Build ‘Em Up And Knock ‘Em Down
That was officially my favourite subheading to ever write; probably because it’s one of my personal favourite strategies.
With this method you utilise something called The Bridge Model.
It’s an old NLP method I picked up when I worked in corporate companies back in the UK.
And, now it works brilliantly to get people to read your articles.
It takes three steps:
- The Desired Situation: Let them picture where they want to be.
- The Current Situation: Bring them back down to earth.
- Offer A Bridge: Create a bridge between the two situations, and position your article as the solution.
You’ll find copywriters only tend to focus on one step of this process.
I actually used it in the intro to this article to drag you down the page.
In the first few sentences I built up your desired situation:
In the second step I made you look at your current situation and all the pain and discomfort there:
Then I position this article as the tool you need to bridge the gap between the two:
You’re hooked and can’t help but scroll down to find out more. I’ve given you the sense that you’re definitely in the right place.
That’s because it ticks all these boxes:
- Matches the search query
- Contains emotion
- Poses questions
- Adds a promise
- Previews the content
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you use it yourself. Just fill in the blanks!
The Bridge Model Cheat Sheet
Imagine you could [desired situation]. How good would your life be?
If you could [paint a picture of their ideal world. What they strive for and what they wish they had].
But, right now, here you are. Without any of that.
[Paint picture of their current situation]. What went wrong?
But, it doesn’t have to be this way:
There is a way you can start [subject]. And, it’s not too hard to do for yourself.
All of the answers you need are right here in this article. To get them, you just need to read on.
“Imagine you could make all of your money through your blog. How good would it be?
You could lift up the lid of your laptop, write a few blog posts, connect with your readers – then sit back, relax and watch the money roll in. It’s the dream, right?
But right now, here you are. Sat in front of your laptop, reading this article, wishing that was your life.
You’ve tried all of the courses. You’ve listened to all of the webinars. And, you’ve poured your heart and soul into finding your passion.
And while it feels like everybody else can make a living from blogging – you’re struggling to put food in your belly.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way:
There is a way you can start monetising your blog. And you’ve been sitting on top of at all along. It doesn’t cost you any money, and you’ll find all the answers for free right here in this article.
All you have to do to get it is scroll down…”
3. Hack Your Reader’s Psychology With Open Loops
Earlier in this article I mentioned two things:
- That your readers all share the same deep-rooted psychological flaw
- You can take advantage of it using a hack called an “open loop”
These open loops are one of the most powerful ways to keep people on your page.
- Dramatically increase dwell time
- Reduce bounce rates
Open loops follow a pretty simple 2x step formula:
- Open the loop: by teasing some juicy content that’s coming later
- Close the loop: by including that content later in the text
When you see it laid out like this, it’s normal to think you are immune to hacks like this.
But I’ve been using open loops in this article to keep you hooked. When I said:
Later in this article, I’m going to show you how to take advantage of this psychological flaw using a copywriting hack called “open loops.”
I created an open loop to grip your interest. Then this section closed it.
This is a technique that has been used by your favourite storytellers for years!
Watch how J.J Abrams talks about mystery boxes (fancy term for open loops) in modern media:
This is one of the most powerful tools in your SEO copywriter’s toolkit. But…
It’s not even the best hack on this list. I’m saving that for a little later. So, you’ll have to stick around to find out what it is.
First, let’s look at why you should never save your best content until last…
4. Ignore Your Teacher’s Writing Advice
English teachers around the world all say the same thing:
“Good writing should start slow and build up to an amazing ending.”
It sounds like common sense advice, right? If you’re writing a book you don’t start at the end. But, you’re not writing a novel; you’re writing for the internet.
The problem with online audiences is that less than 30% of them ever make it to the end.
If you write the way that your well-meaning English teacher taught you then your best content is going to go to waste.
Instead, it’s better to lead with your best content.
Take a look at my common sense SEO audit blog post.
In the first 50x words I shared the results of my case study:
Doing this may seem like suicide for my post. After all, I’ve already shared the content people came for up-front.
But doing this actually creates an open-loop…
They have seen the results. But, they still have no idea how to achieve them.
The only way to find that out is to read the post.
This hack applies to all major types of posts. For example:
- How-to: give the reader a taste of what they’ll learn
- Listicles: put your lists in descending order of quality
- Case study: show your results up front
5. Do This To Hook Those Pesky Skim Readers
Because the internet has created a culture of skim reading. People come to articles, then quickly skim to decide if it’s worth reading.
But what do they use to decide whether a post is worth reading?
They use your post’s subheadings. Think of it this way:
- Your headline gets someone to click to your page
- Your subheadings convince them to stay
Each of your subheads “sells” the person on that section of the artile. If it’s good enough, they’ll bite and read it.
This means they need to be 1x of these things:
Let’s say you’re writing an article about…
Why You Need A Portable Nano-Espresso Machine.
You could create some dazzling subheadings like:
- How My Nano-Espresso Saved My Life
- The Only Way To Make Coffee In The Wild
- How To Make A Coffee Using…River Water?
These are like mini-article headlines that make the reader stop and think, “I want to know more!”
They accurately describe what the reader is about to read; this makes them a great storytelling tool.
Take a look at this article about how to replace a bike chain:
The subheadings tell the step-by-step story of the article’s content.
This makes it easier for skim readers to:
- Know what the content is about
- Find the best point in the content for them to start
Once you’ve upgraded your subheadings you’ll find it much easier to use this next hack…
6. Create A Clickable Table Of Contents
Table of contents might be three of the most boring words on the planet.
Adding a table of contents like this:
Can transform your SEO copywriting.
Since adding them to my blog posts I’ve seen a big increase in:
- Search engine traffic
- Click through rates
- Dwell time
When you add a table of contents like this you also add clickable links to your results.
This has two incredible effects:
- Google sees this as a better user experience and boosts your rankings
- Users have the option to click through to the most relevant section
The increase click-through rate from users also provides a boost to your rankings.
Not bad for a “boring” table of contents right?
The final benefit is that they help to create a hook for your readers.
If you create subheadings like in the last section, you can entice your readers to read long before they ever scroll.
Want to know the best part?
All you need to do is download a WordPress plugin like Table Of Contents Plus. Once installed, it will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
Okay, we are getting close to the best hack on this list.
But there’s just one more “power” lesson I want to teach you before we get to it…
7. Use Power Words To Create Emotions
Power words tap into our most primal emotions.
When your readers see them they can’t help but feel something.
It could be:
Just 1x look at the copywriting books next to me shows there are hundreds to choose from.
You can use them in your:
- Calls to action
The entire list of power words is a little beyond the scope of this article. Instead…
I recommend you take a look at these 3x resources:
Whenever I sit down to write, I make sure I have these 2x books with me:
Okay, now it’s time for the moment you’ve been waiting for.
8. Optimise Your Content For “Attention Efficiency”
Think about this:
Your audience only has a limited amount of attention each day. They spend most of that on:
- Decision making
Basically, they don’t have a lot of attention left over to read your content.
This means your number 1x job as a content creator is this:
You need to create content that is:
If you read this blog you will see there is no waffle.
There is nothing here that doesn’t need to be here; it is ruthless efficiency of words.
On this blog you will rarely see:
- Paragraphs longer than two sentences
- Long lists
- Wordy descriptions
- Run-on sentences
- Paragraphs describing what could be shown with a screenshot
With fewer words between you and the information you are able to learn quicker.
Next time you create a post look the hack away all of the waffle you don’t need. You’ll be amazed at how your audience responds.
A Simple Trick To Make You More Efficient
Want to become ruthlessly efficient in your writing?
Next time you want to write imagine each word costs you $10 to publish:
- When you write try to spend as little money as possible
- When you edit try to save as much money as possible
This will cause you to think about how many words you really need.
9. The APP Method
This is SEO legend Brian Dean’s go-to article introduction.
The method is simple:
- Agree: recognise the reader’s problem, acknowledge it and agree with it.
- Promise: make a promise about fixing their problem.
- Preview: give them a taste of what you’re going to show them in the article.
Here’s an infographic to make that even clearer…
This framework is useful for search engine traffic because it’s gripping.
If you hit the right emotional buttons you can have the reader nodding and agreeing in seconds.
Take a look at this example from Stencil’s blog:
The first step hits a common problem; writing good tweets.
It creates a connection with the reader who also thinks it is hard.
Then the writer:
- Shows empathy
- Promise life will be better at the end of the article
- Previews what they are going to learn
Simple. Emotional. Effective.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you create your own APP intros…
APP Method Cheat Sheet
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say:
Doing [subject] is really [bad emotion or situation].
Or, is it?
Well it turns out that [achieving desired situation] may not be as [emotion] as you’d have thought. All you have do is [solution].
In this article I’m going to show you exactly how I [achieved goal/got result].
If you want to know more, all you have to do is read on…
10. Call In The Bucket Brigade
Bucket Brigades are an easy tool to tap into human psychology.
We can’t help but stick around to find out…
…how a sentence ends.
By breaking important sentences up using:
You can capture and hold your audience’s attention that will have a direct impact on dwell time.
Bucket Brigades can also be supercharged when used with sentences like:
- But wait, there’s more…
- It gets better:
- Let me explain…
- Now, there is one more point I need to make:
- Yes, you read that right…
Try using Google Analytics to look for areas where people commonly leave your content.
These will usually be sections containing:
- Technical content
- Long descriptions
- Tricky tutorial steps
11. Make Your Long Tail Keywords Sound Natural
Long tail keywords are excellent for driving targeted search traffic. But…
They read like a three-year-old has scribbled them in crayon.
Nobody in their life has ever said:
- “Fix iPhone Speaker Water Damage”
- “Cactus Dead How To Save”
- “Dog Walking Near Me”
This can make it hard to seamlessly include them in your website content. Like this site who just crowbared them in there:
Make them sound natural.
Exact match keywords are ideal, but they don’t create a good user experience.
Google cares more about user experience than basically everything else other than backlinks.
Their bots are also smart enough to interpret your keywords with a few words between them.
As long as you ensure your keyword is recognisable you’ll be golden.
Here’s what I mean:
- Keyword: Fix iPhone 7 phone speaker
- New Keyword: Fix your iphone 7 speaker
- Keyword: Dog walking Manchester
- New Keyword: Dog walking in Manchester
- Keyword: Free Apple Mac Video Software
- New Keyword: Free Apple Mac Video Editing Software
It’s honestly that simple.
12. Clean Up Your Bad Code
Google was built to read bad HTML.
It can read any code as long as it’s used in (mostly) the correct way.
I’m a firm believer that having clear code will positively impact your rankings.
With all of my:
Because error-free code means your website is easy to crawl and easy to use.
You might not think there is any bad code in your posts. You may not even touch the code on your site.
But if you use a word processor like:
- Google Docs
- Microsoft Word
And then copy and paste the content into WordPress, I can say with 100% certainty…
Your post is full of crappy code. Let me show you.
Take a look at this blog post excerpt I created in Google Docs:
It looks pretty standard, right?
Well let’s move it over to WordPress’ visual editor:
Again, this looks pretty standard.
But if you click the Text tab in the top right-hand corner you can see this:
Under the hood there is a mess of bad code. This might not impact you or me when reading.
But, for Google’s crawlers this is like swimming through custard.
There are Span Tags everywhere:
And random spaces around bold and italic words.
Before you publish an article you should delete this code.
When it’s ready it should look like this:
You can do this by using a Word Processor.
Use Ctrl + F to open the ‘Navigation’ tool.
To delete the span tags just copy and paste them into the tool:
Then select ‘Replace…’ and put a blank space in their place.
For the spaces around bold and italic words you will want to enter in the HTML code with the space, and replace it for one without a space.
If _ represents a space, then _</b> becomes </b>.
Once you have done this copy and paste it back into the Text section of WordPress.
You can go back and apply this to all your existing blog posts to improve their crawlability.
13. Write For A Middle School Reading Level
Most people who come to your site don’t read English to a high level.
Don’t worry, that’s not a dig at your audience.
That’s just a fact about most of the world’s population, including native speakers.
Take a look at this screenshot from one of the internet marketing sites I work with:
Only 5x countries on this list have English as their first language.
The rest have either:
- Mixed languages
- English as a second language
This means they are likely not at a high reading level.
If we zoom in on a country like America, see that natives can’t read to a high level either.
If you are writing above this level you are likely excluding many people in your audience.
And this means they will be less inclined to:
- Link back
This comes right back to the attention efficiency I mentioned earlier.
Let’s take a closer look…
Which of these two quotes is easier to read?
“When you embark upon learning a new language it can often be difficult to differentiate between the different tones, nuances and inflections in people’s voices. This is because they all originate in different areas, with their own dialects. To become proficient at this you need to invest lots of time and dedicate specific blocks of time throughout your week to be able to become attuned to this plethora of vocal ranges. If you would be interested in learning how to listen to a language more effectively, please feel free to download our manifesto from the link below”
“When you start to learn a language listening can be hard. People’s voices are different and it’s hard to pick out the right sounds.
This is because each region has its own dialect that changes how people say their words. But, don’t worry, this can be simple to deal with.
Take some time to practice listening to each of the dialects each week and, eventually, your ears will begin to get used to them! And, if you really want to learn how to get better, check out our manifesto below!”
Quote B is much easier to read.
- Fewer words
- Simpler words
But how do you replicate this in your own content?
Well the first step is to look at your current writing age.
Open up a Word document of one of your last blog posts and open up the ‘Readability’ tab.
Here you will be able to see some information about your posts. Specifically, you want the “Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.”
I’m not going to bore you with what this is. Just know that you want to get this number as low as possible.
Ideally, between 5.0 and 8.0.
This will be affected by your niche; an engineering blog will be higher than a pop-culture one. So, do what you can with what you’ve got.
14. Power Up Your Title Tags
Title tags are the headlines people see on Google.
They can either be the same as your article’s headline or a variation on it. Like this:
SEOs usually alter these title tags to contain keywords. But…
You should also update them to contain emotions. Specifically, emotionally-charged power words.
By adding either power word to your title tag you can drastically improve your click-through rate.
Let’s say that you wanted to create a headline about fashionable hats for men.
The standard headline would look like this:
10 Must-Wear Hats For Men This Summer
Now, let’s make it emotional. This kind of headline calls for some positive power words:
- Wow! 10 Must-Wear Hats For Men This Summer
- Snappy! 10 Must-Wear Hats For Men This Summer
- Phwoar! 10 Must-Wear Hats For Men This Summer
But you don’t just need to include power words at the start. You can put them anywhere to get the benefit:
- 10 Must-Wear Hats For Men That Want To Feel Sexy
- Dazzle The Ladies With These 10 Must-Wear Hats
- 10 Hats That Will Ruin Your Summer Outfits
It tacks onto the end of your blog posts and give you a simple interface to edit everything:
Split Testing Your Titles Easily
You can get more from this section by using split testing.
For every post I publish I write 3x different titles and split test them.
How do I do that?
Just install this free plugin and then create as many title variations as you want:
Once a winner is found, the plugin will automatically default to the most effective title.
It’s a great free plugin that everyone should be using!
15. The Meta Description Hack You’ve Always Needed
Meta descriptions are the text-boxes attached to your search results:
They’re often overlooked and neglected.
Google is quite open about the fact that they don’t use Meta Descriptions as a ranking factor.
Let me explain…
There is evidence to show that click-through rates influence rankings.
And, meta descriptions can directly impact your CTR. How?
Because the more:
Neil Patel says that a good meta description should be (or do) 5x things:
- Descriptive: says what your article is about.
- Persuasive: convinces the reader to click
- Inspire Curiosity: create intrigue about your content
- Intent-based: shows the user this is the article they were looking for
- About 156 Characters: tweet-sized descriptions perform best
Let’s take a look at an example.
This meta description from ExpressVPN ticks all of those boxes:
Anyone that wants to learn how to use a VPN would feel comfortable clicking this result.
You can edit your meta-descriptions using RankMath, using the same process needed to change your title tags.
Meta Description Cheat Sheet
Below I’ve put together some specific examples of meta descriptions you can use.
Copy, paste and edit them to fit your article:
How To Article
- Want to know how to [keyword]? Then you need this guide! Inside you’ll find [X] simple techniques to help you [subject] without [undesired situation].
- Want to know how to make sushi? Then you need this guide! Inside you’ll find 15 simple techniques to help you make sushi without the mess.
- Want to know how to see Berlin in 24 hours? Then you need this guide! Inside you’ll find 10 must-see tourist attractions to help you see Berlin without getting lost.
- Want to know how to lose fat? Then you need this guide! Inside you’ll find 10 simple fat loss techniques to help you burn the fat without giving up your life.
- [Subject] getting you down? Then you’re in the right place. This list of [X] [things] about [keyword] will make you [positive emotion].
- Writing meta descriptions getting you down? Then you’re in the right place. This list of 10 perfect meta description examples will make you over the moon!
- Learning Spanish getting you down? Well, you’re in the right place. This list of 20 Spanish language hacks will have you conversing in no time.
- Finding books to read getting you down? Then you’re in the right place! This list of 8 successful business books will solve all your problems!
Business Home Page
- Looking for a [business type] [location]? Then look no further. We’re specialists in [subject] and we want to help you [get desired result].
- Looking for a Plumber in London? Then look no further. We’re specialists in Plumbing and Heating and we want to help you for the best price.
- Looking for Thai food in San Francisco? Then look no further. Here at Try Thai we make Thai Street food with a twist, to fill you up and spice up your pallet!
- Looking for Furniture Removals in Sydney? Here at Pulos Removals we try and make your move as easy as possible! Click here to find out more.
16. Mind-Control Your Readers With A Serif Font
Your words say one thing; your font says another.
Fonts can influence your audiences’:
- Feelings about the post
- Time spent reading
- Comic Sans: you would take it less seriously
- Times New Roman: it would feel more professional
That’s how websites like Medium keep a “newspaper” feel online.
If you want to project a specific emotion, it pays to use the right font.
But more importantly, your font can impact what’s known as a “scan path”.
That’s the left-to-right motion you use to read. It looks like this:
The font you use can have 2x impacts on the scan path. It will either:
- Help them along the path
- Interrupt the path and cause them to stop
The science behind this isn’t that important. All you need to know is that serif fonts keep people on your page.
Those are the fonts with the little flick on the tip:
Choosing one of these fonts will help you subconsciously guide your reader down the page.
But if you don’t want to use a serif font, all is not lost.
Instead you need to replace it with a BIGGER font. This makes your site:
- More accessible
- Easier to read
- More likely to convert
17. Use The Active Voice
The active voice is a way of writing that has more pop and clarity to it.
It uses fewer words and reads a lot better. Perfect for attention efficiency.
I’m not going to give you a grammar lecture here. (Life is too short!)
But bear with me while I explain what it is.
Active voice is basically writing how you would speak. This tends to be in sentences that are:
Instead we speak following this formula:
- [Subject] – [Action] – [Object]
- Matt does SEO.
- James plays guitar.
- Michael eats pizza.
But when we are taught how to write, we do it in this order:
- [Object] – [Action] – [Person]
- The SEO was done by Matt.
- The Guitar is played by James.
- The pizza was eaten by Michael.
This is a lot less enjoyable to read and takes longer.
Take a look at these 2x examples and tell me which one is easier to read.
The SEO is done differently by our technical team. We aim to find the best and most highly ranking keywords and use them strategically so that your site can be ranked well by Google and help you generate from new clients.
Or, this one?
We do SEO differently here. We find the highest-ranking keywords and strategically place them on your site so that you can rank higher and generate new income from new clients.
Option 2x, right?
It has a snap, crackle, and pop about it.
Here is a great rule of thumb for creating active voice in your writing:
If you can add ‘by Zombies’ at the end of the sentence, you’re not using the active voice.
- This article was written by zombies
- The design work was done by zombies
- The town was attacked by zombies
18. Use Grammarly To Make Sure Your Content Is Up To Scratch
Grammarly is a game changer.
Editing is one of the most important parts of SEO copywriting. It helps you ensure your piece is:
- Error free
- Ready for your audience
But Grammarly can help you catch them. It analyses your text to find any mistakes:
Then it gives you a one-click option to fix them.
It will save you hours (and a lot of embarrassment), even if you just grab the free version.
Want to learn more steps to improve your content and boost your website performance? Check out my complete SEO checklist for 2022!
Wrapping This Up…
Now you should have a clear idea of how to dramatically improve your SEO copywriting.
- Intros are important: start with a question or make a strong statement
- Save the best until first: put your high-value content at the top of the page
- Create open loops: set the stage for future sections and keep people gripped
- Write for middle-schoolers: ensure each level is a 5.0 to 8.0 reading level
- Say more with less: optimise for attencion efficiency – your readers will love you
- Remove your bad code: keep your articles easy to crawl
What are your favourite SEO writing tips?
Let me know in the comments below!
(Psss, if you want to learn more hacks, take a look at one of these SEO books).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an SEO content writer?
An SEO content writer is someone that can create content that humans love and that Google loves. There is a fine art in writing content that keeps readers hooked whilst also satisfying the needs of a search engine algorithm.
How do I become a SEO content writer?
First you need to learn how to write for humans. Learn the basics of story telling and how to write text that engages people and keeps them scrolling. Explore copywriting techniques and then learn how search engines work.
How do I optimize my SEO copy?
There are a number of different ways you can do this such as using a free SEO plugin for WordPress like Rank Math or Yoast to give you a basic analysis against rigid guidelines. You can also use a tool like Surfer SEO that uses 500 different factors to compare your text against the current search results.