Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on July 21st, 2010

SEO Copywriting Tips That Will Keep You Out of Web Prison

There are many moving parts in an SEO campaign - from optimized title and meta tags to XML site maps and internal link structure. Most SEO processes may appear difficult at first, but really just demand your time, patience, and commitment. Only you can make it more difficult than it actually needs to be.

Writing for the Web – whether it be a blog, website, landing page, Facebook status update, tweet – should also be search engine optimized. This isn’t a science. It’s a way of thinking. Search engine optimized content ensures that websites will be ranked higher in search results. A higher ranking in the search engines potentially means more visitors on your site. And more web traffic leads to more sales and conversions.

You don’t need a PhD from Copywriting University to figure this out, anyone can do it. But you do need to understand the basics before your site soars to a better ranking. Now don’t get me wrong, optimized content does NOT guarantee you will be #1 on Google, just that you have a much better chance of being ranked on page one. And we all learned from Lloyd Christmas that if there’s a chance...

But there are too many sites right now that violate many SEO copywriting rules, which, if caught, could land that site in Web prison for a very long time. If you run or own a website, you need to understand how to properly search engine optimize copy. If you don’t, you could wake up one morning to your website waving you good-bye from the back of the police paddy wagon bouncing down the cobblestone street to Web prison. Did I say Web prison yet?

Worried that you may accidentally be violating some SEO copywriting rules? Need to become more savvy in your SEO wordsmithing? Join me after the jump for SEO copywriting tips that will keep you and your site out of Web prison.

Use Competitive Keywords Appropriately

The “tail that wags the dog” in an SEO campaign is finding the right keywords you to target with your website. You can use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find out the how competitive a keyword is and what its global and local monthly search volumes are. If you run a comparison for local sporting good stores in Austin, here is a quick snapshot of some of your results.

Sheds some light on your decision, eh? It’s a very cool tool that is quite fun to play around with, all the while you are using it to make very important decisions. Play wisely.

Now to my point – There is a fine line between using keywords appropriately and effectively, and using keywords will ill intent. One such ill use of keywords is called “keyword stuffing”.

Keyword Stuffing

Some sites will repeat their keywords a hundred times on one page and change the font color to match the background. In this way, they aren’t turning off human readers from a hideously-spamming page and the search engine spiders think their page is incredibly important for said term.

Other sites are just shameless in stuffing their copy with keywords. Here is an example with the keyword router:

”Cisco routers are the best routers available from any router dealer. If your router isn’t a Cisco router, you need give The Router Boys a call!”

They will stuff anything and everything with keywords: headlines, body copy, blog posts, page titles, title tags, meta tags, dog tags... you name it, it gets stuffed.

Fortunately, the Googles have caught on and those sites go to search prison where they can sulk for Web eternity and smell the booze from Lindsay Lohan’s tears in the cell next door.

Targeting Unrelated Trending Terms

Do you sell mattress pads, but use popular keyword terms like “Mel Gibson’s Demise”, “LeBron’s Decision” or “Double Rainbow”? Shame on you! With sites like Twitter and Yahoo! providing trending lists up-to-the-moment, folks can find out what is trending right now and inject that keyword phrase into their website headlines, blog posts, or title tags.

When you target unrelated keywords on your website or blog post copy has nothing to do with your site, you are baiting traffic that you know isn’t interested in your tube sock collection. This isn’t cool. Like skyping me “there’s a double rainbow outside of my office window when I’m in an important meeting” uncool. What does that even mean?!

Write and Format Content Like a Very Interesting Person

Have you ever been on a date? Of course you have. Let’s think of a better question.. Have you ever been on a bad, horrible, call-your-best-friend-from-the-bathroom, looking-at-your-watch-every-five-seconds, faking-an-injury-or-war-wound date?! If you went to college, or are above the age of 23, this is probably a safe bet.


Believe it or not, but some people’s website copy can read like that nightmare date. That’s because those same people grow up to write their own website copy. I’m not trying to be a ‘debbie-downer’ here, but there are very boring people out there. I’m not advocating that you avoid them, fire them, or make them pay for dinner... just don’t let them write your copy. If you are a boring person, hire someone interesting to write your copy for you.

Maybe you are extremely interesting but just don’t have the writing chops. That’s OK as well. Or, if you are the most interesting man in the world but just don’t have the time for the words of mere mortals, well, go drink a Dos Equis.

Many folks in the industry call this sweeping phenomenon: readability. Go back and read your website copy. Do you understand the message? Does it flow well? Are you intrigued to read until the very last period, question mark, or exclamation point?

If you don’t understand the message, lose interest before the end, or feel like the worst date of your life just hijacked your home page, its time to rewrite it. Hire a copywriter. Ask your sister. (you never know, she might be a great writer!) Do it yourself. Just make sure that it scores high in readability.


I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Just because you have compelling copy doesn’t mean people are going to read it. It must also be presented well. If you have 1,000 words and no paragraph breaks?! No thank you. No bold or italicized words or emphasis? I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

An overlooked, often ignored sibling of compelling content is professional formatting. Your page must also have an professional aesthetic that is just as convincing as the words on the page. If you are in an industry that is based on information and persuasion - i.e. advertising, public relations, medical industry, design, or basically anything that sells something - you need have a well-formatted website as well. I realize I am starting to grey the line between SEO and Web Design here, but it is very important element to have. Volacci doesn’t offer design services, just design opinions.

If you have boring writing and horrible formatting, you keeping your site in its own Web prison, shunned from society because no one wants to go visit it. Do yourself a favor and make sure your website has compelling copy and professional formatting.

3. “Give it away, give it away, give it away now!”

People want to know what they will get from your business without having to sign their soul away for six months to a year. Give them a taste. Like those grocery store samples on Sunday. Offer a sample of your value for free and “they will come”.

Free What?!

Free value can come in many forms: a blog that does nothing but give you awesome and very practical tips (wink, wink), downloadable whitepapers, expert podcasts, printable masks of every character from LOST that you can cut out and wear at your staff meetings! Stuff like that.

Information and expertise is so hot right now. If you can give away some of your knowledge in a presentable form, you can start building a base of raving fans. The value people get from key takeaways of your website are not forgotten. They will come back for more.

Content Strategy

How does this pertain to SEO? This tip is more based on content strategy than actual on-page SEO techniques. While you should make sure that the blog, whitepaper, podcast, or printable mask uses targeted keywords in headlines, title tags, URLs, page titles, and dog tags, the lesson here is in optimizing your content offering.

If you offer little to no value with your content, how do people know what they are getting? You kissed your spouse before you married them, right?! Make sure your site kisses your customers before asking them to spend the rest of their lives, or contract, sitting imprisoned by a service they don’t want, need, or wish upon the worst date of their life.

Thank You For Reading!

Did you like what you read? NO?! Bugger off then. Oh, you did?! Awesome. Ignore what I just said then. Please share my post with any of our socially inept buttons, and please subscribe to our RSS feed to receive daily fodder. For every RSS subscription Volacci gets, an AT-AT Imperial Walker gets taken out by the Allies.