Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Brief History Of SEO Copywriting

SEO naturally came about with the birth of the internet, but its early days were less than impressive. Budding internet marketers pounced on newly discovered methods for search engine ranking manipulation and churned out garbage articles loaded with meaningless content and outlandish strings of invisible keywords. Luckily, search engine algorithm designers picked up on these tricks and refined their programs to ignore this nonsense, also known as "keyword stuffing", and SEO copywriting was born out of necessity. By using a combination of quality content sprinkled with ranking keywords, this method gave SEO writing more credibility.

Today, both people and search engine algorithms have developed a keen distaste for junk copy and excessive keyword use. As a result, in order to not only rank but grab and hold the attention of quality potential customers, SEO copy must be more and more content focused. Keywords will always be important, but a skilled SEO writer uses only one or two unique and natural-sounding search terms per page, knowing how to integrate and space these terms smoothly into the text. This integration can be tricky, so good writers have developed some techniques to make it easier for the more awkward keyword phrases. These may include enclosing the search term in quotes to make it seem like a technical term, defining it at the opening of the article to use further on, and using examples or comparing two different terms throughout the article in order to increase usage without sounding ridiculous.

And a skilled SEO writer delivers the best possible results-money in your pocket. Not only will they maneuver your site to the first page of search engine results, they'll attract quality paying customers who stick around and generate revenue for your business. This is achieved by writing researched, educational copy that is also readable and interesting to the average internet surfer. If you can grab and hold a customer's attention with copy that garners respect and adds to the trust and authority of your domain, you will likely have a sale on your hands. Even better, an excellent article will inspire readers to link to it, bookmark it, tweet and tell their friends about it, generating more and more sales over time.

So how does a writer achieve excellence in SEO copy? There are many ways to increase the "value" of an article in a reader's eyes:
1. Organization
2. Detail
3. Thorough research
4. A birds-eye view
5. Specific calls to action
6. Focus on benefits, not features
7. Usability
8. Understanding reader perspective
9. Readability across different age levels and education levels
10. Who, what, where, when, why and how
11. Always put the reader before the search engine
12. Keep asking after each paragraph: "Does the reader care?"
13. Back up information with real-world examples that anyone can relate to
14. Avoid repetition and redundancy
15. Remove unnecessary words and phrases
16. Use bullets, numbering, italics, and headings-and use them wisely
17. Avoid clich├ęs and make sure industry jargon is well-defined
18. Vary sentence length
19. Avoid the passive tense
20. Maintain a tone that is conversational and engaging yet professional and technical at the same time

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