5 Steps to Getting More Targeted Website Traffic with SEO Copywriting

5 Steps to Getting More Targeted Website Traffic with SEO Copywriting

Reader Comments (37)

  1. I remember reading about research done on courtroom persuasion. The researchers wanted to find what kind of expert witnesses had the best effect – were most persuasive. Would it be experts who dumbed their topic down and talked in a language that even 5th standard students would understand? Would it be experts who used a lot of technical jargon? Would it be experts with Steve Jobs level oration skills?

    What the researchers found was surprising. Experts that used technical jargon persuaded more than experts with better public speaking skills, more charisma and folks who explained things in easy to understand dumbed down language.

    So apologies Neil – for nitpicking one small point of your awesome post. But when I read the sentence: “Make the content highly readable, aiming for a 5th-grade reading level” – thats what came to my mind.

    Talk to people assuming that they are smart. Use technical jargon and they will perceive you to be a credible expert.

    • Ankesh, I think there is an important difference between the courtroom (or any real life, face-to-face situation) and writing online. Those speaking to a live audience have many more tools at their disposal than words in black and white. They have volume, eye contact, tone, sarcasm, and gestures to hook the audience and make them pay attention. Because the audience is paying more attention, the audience can mentally process at a higher level. Not only that, but it’s a courtroom where matters of life and death are decided, and therefore technical evidence and expert witnesses are highly valued.

      Online content is a completely different story. Writers have little more than their words and reputation to grab attention. It has been proven that the scan rate is ridiculously high. I’m sure that Neil would agree that there are times to use technical language (e.g. When you know you are writing to a technical audience). But for most of us bloggers, that is not the case, and 5th-grade-level language is proven to be most effective.

      • I agree that in order to be effective with our content we need to use a language that explains rather than refers. But I don’t think the 5th-grade analogy is helpful here.

        For instance, I tried to explain how email encryption really works in a blog post, recently. It would have been much easier to use the technical terms than explaining the fundamentals in a descriptive and memorable way. It took me more than a week to find the correct (mental) images that make things clear, and it was hard work to focus on the parts that usually are being ignored, because we think our audience know the facts and principles.

        They don’t. What I needed was a mindset from which I could see what an intelligent reader needs to know – but does not know yet, to understand the thing in question, email encryption.

        There are so many (good) articles using professional language, that don’t have an effect because of the lack of perspective and focus on the “hard to explain” but “necessary to understand” basics behind our topics. It was hard work, but in the end, it was more fun than writing an expert post.

  2. A really great article, Neil, and this is something I’ve been focused heavily on in recent weeks for my own site, so this was very timely for me. As a Scribe user, I can say that it’s helped tremendously, reminding me when I’ve strayed off the path in an article or post.

    Cornerstone content is what I’m working on now, and Brian and Darren’s examples are excellent as models for that type of strategy, as you pointed out.

    My biggest challenge is that darned bounce rate, and how to get it down. I find that a lot of people spens a lot of time on the site, but on just one page, so they are engaged with the content, but Google still counts them as a bounce because they leave after just that one page. GetClicky only counts bounces if they leave in the first 30 seconds, so their bounce rate for my site is much lower (around 25%), compared to Google, but of course the only opinion that counts is Google’s, so I have to find ways to fix that – your tips in this article should help with that, thank you!

    • Hey Nigel,

      Beating the bounce rate wars can be difficult and creating engaging content to get people to stay longer is challenging enough however, there are some things you can do to decrease your bounces.

      Here are 2 ideas:

      #1 Use video…get creative and research what types of videos others in photography are doing…aka Darren Rowse’s site Digital Photography School…here a sample video I found: http://digital-photography-school.com/a-simple-exercise-to-help-you-learn-to-see-light

      #2 Create solid tutorial based content. Give step-by-step instructions. You know your niche/market better than me…so try to figure out what problems people need solving, and you can guide them with detailed steps.

      ex: I have one post that shows people how to create a landing page with this software called Infusionsoft, and right now the average length of time on that post hovers in the 5 hr. range, because people use the instructions as reference while they build their landing pages.

      Hope that helps you out,


  3. “You need to write so that even a fifth grader will understand it. When you do that, you will up the chances that people will understand — and share — it. ”

    Great point. While it’s important to use your content to establish your authority, you don’t want it so filled with industry jargon that your customers can’t understand you. Write for your audience, not other industry professionals!

  4. Hey… you hit both here and Problogger today. Good one. You’re going to be busy today!
    Biggest take home points of your article — write compelling content and don’t overoptimize. 🙂

  5. Hey! Thanks for the tips. I’m just learning about the blogging world and SEO (can you believe that I didn’t even know what that term meant three weeks ago?). Thanks for the tips.

    Last night my husband read my blog, his comment? “Is it good or bad?” His reading level is far below mine (hey, I’m an English teacher after all!) so I need to lower my writing level to generate more traffic.

    I am discovering how to use a keyword, too.

    Quick question,

    How can I tell what Google thinks of my site? Is there a resource for that? Maybe I missed it in the blog…


  6. I do think you have to write at a level most people understand in order to appeal to more people. We are not just trying to educate the educated, we want people of all kinds to benefit from our writing.

    Nice post on SEO… it can be tough to balance good SEO writing with good writing.

    • Also that there are ALWAYS going to be more beginners than intermediate/expert level folks, so it’s always good to keep that in mind no matter why kind of content you write.

  7. SEO is an overused subject in the web, as web traffic is key to an internet success.
    So practically everyone likes to give advices on SEO.
    Many people under estimates the value of a good content and Google’s commitment to give the right content to it’s customers.
    Short cuts are always short lived.
    Content will be always the king.

    Niel, Thank you very much for a realistic post.

  8. So many great ideas here. I especially like the tip about adding keywords to your H tags and updating old posts (it reminds me that I have a few posts that need updating!).

    I think by taking this SEO copywriting approach and combining it with other tactics like social sharing, participating in communities, and guest blogging you’ll have a winning combination!

  9. Thanks Neil.

    Didn’t know I shouldn’t use more than one H1 headers on a page. This is really an eye opener for me.
    Secondly, didn’t know that using a keyword in the first sentence of the post really has such huge impacts. Thanks so much for pointing this out, will pay more attention to my first sentences from now on!

  10. I think there’s a lot to be said about updating content, as you point out in Step 2. It only serves to frustrate visitors to read through a post or page only to discover it was published a couple of years ago and is now irrelevant. What’s more is updating your content not only benefits readers but refreshes your site…good for SEO.

  11. In addition to writing fifth grade level words, you should also include a lot of white space in your copy. That will add to its readability factor. 🙂

  12. Great post, especially the 9 points about content. It’s a delicate balance between content and SEO but ultimately, I believe if you follow the basics of SEO and write great content, readers will find you. The important thing is, if your content is great, they will come back again and again, much like I do here. Great content often results in great links too, which ultimately helps with SEO.
    I also think it is important, as you mentioned, to update older content. Why leave all that great content to go stale when a couple days effort can freshen it up and bring more readers.
    Great post.

  13. What you say makes good sense. It raises a question for me though. Suppose I go back a couple of years in my blog and update a post. Does that change the publication date in the search results? Do I move the post forward? Just drop the update into the blog stream? What’s the best way to handle that? Thanks.

    • Hey Jan,

      Updating posts in your blog doesn’t change your publication date. You can move the post forward, but you’re looking for the best way to handle content updates so here’s my suggestion.

      Take a old post and write a completely new post that’s more current and compelling, because I’m sure your writing skills have gotten better over the years.

      Publish the new post and go back to the older post (this one is already indexed by Google) and fit in a promotional link that directs any readers to reference your updated post.

      Darren explains this idea in point #4 here: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/12/09/updating-old-posts-on-your-blog/

      Hope that helps you out,

      • Thanks for taking the time to answer, Jared. Yes, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for the Problogger link, too. I’ll check it out.

  14. Hi Neil, I follow KISSMetrics on Twitter, and that content is great (I reshare it frequently @blainelight). I then read this article, and thought, “Wow, this is great!” yet I didn’t realize you were the same person that founded KISSMetrics until I finished the article. You really write useful stuff!

    Quick Question–for images, why do you have to have your alt tag and title tag match the name of the file? If it’s an image, how do search engines know what is in the image?

    • Hey Blaine,

      I think Neil’s main point is that some people will post an image of an “umbrella” and then try to title it with a keyword that doesn’t match the image (like “blogging expert”) but matches their site keywords instead…this can be interpreted as keyword stuffing by Google.

      Hope that helps,

      • Great, thanks for clarifying Jared. Sometimes I embellish the picture title/description. For example, if there is a section about landing a job at a startup, and I post a picture of a young man in a business suit, I’ll make the description, “Young Entrepreneur who landed a job at a Silicon Valley Startup”

        Would Google view this as keyword stuffing?

  15. Updating your content frequently with information relevant to your target demographic is super key to having a successful website. Not only for rankings, but it builds loyalty with your visitors.

  16. Neil,
    this a great brief article about SEO copywriting. Actually I’m researching about this topic. Didn’t know that fewer keyword frequency has effect. Great reminder. Sorry for being a noob. This SEO thing is really new to me. . dugg it. =)

  17. All of these tips highlight the importance of creating genuinely valuable content. In a well written article, the keyword density and spread will nearly always be at an optimal proportion for the search engines. This means, if you are too focused on making sure that your copy has all of its allotted keywords, the quality of the writing is probably suffering. The development of semantic search is a great thing that will only push better content further up the SERPs.

  18. I really like these on site tips, so many people forget about these factors and just focus on rankings. There is no point whatsoever in ranking no.1 but having content that is boring or unreadable. Great tips.

  19. These days I’m finding my blog’s visits can be largely dictated by when I send our the information through social media. The content always needs to be relevant to my topic of course, but the spike in visits when I tweet and share the post on Facebook is very noticeable.

  20. I only discovered copyblogger like a month ago and I’ve only been blogging for 2 months! Useful advice definitely.

This article's comments are closed.