TopRank Marketing Editor

SEO Copywriting: Lure The ‘Bots – Don’t Become One

TopRank Marketing Editor     Online Marketing, SEO, SEO Tips

Harrison Ford may have been a robot. SEO copywriters are not.

Copywriting, and all of marketing really, represent that beautiful intersection between business and creativity.  Those of us lucky enough to find our way into this niche find that, amazingly, we can actually make a living being creative.

Granted, the work we create may not always grab the attention of our hipster friends, but it will put food on our clients’ tables (most important), put food on our own tables (second most important), and put food on our aforementioned hipster friends’ tables (if they’re lucky).

Perhaps the biggest mistake we can make as copywriters when we find ourselves writing specifically for a search engine optimization initiative is becoming untrue to our own creative personalities.

Being a copywriter means adapting your voice to become the voice of your target audience, whether that means writing like an accountant, a technology provider, or even a business analyst.  When writing content for SEO, you add the additional layer of complexity of expanding your audience to include the search engine ‘bots.

This can frustrate the creative ogre that lies within us on a few levels:

  • We work in marketing – the greatest industry forever and ever.
    Why can’t everyone, including the ‘bots, just speak like we do?
  • Writing for robots is making us feel like robots, with the rules and what not.
    We’re not robots – we’re writers!

These may seem like good points when echoed in our own heads, but truly, they are misguided.  SEO copywriting when done correctly – is an enhancement to our creativity – not a limiter.

Take the creative approach towards the following SEO guidelines:

  • Title tags must include the most important keyword related to the page
    This is great!  Think of it this way – if a title tag is limited to 10 words, and you are working with a keyword like “Accounting Software” you’re 1/5th of the way done!  Add in the client name, and you’re 1/3rd of the way there.

    Now, you just need those seven final words to make this a compelling bit of copy – compelling enough to get your target to click through.

    Finding the right creative mix of seven words is a challenge that should be received as a gift by any skilled writer.  Remember, Hemingway only needed six.

  • Keywords must appear up and to the left
    How dare someone tell you what words should go where, right?

    Granted, the reasoning for keyword placement can feel robotic – after all – the search engine ‘bots scan for keywords that appear up and to the left.

    Want to know a secret, though?  So does everyone in the entire world who ever lived and took the time to learn how to read and scan something for their name.  (Note From Editor Dana Larson:  Except in certain cultures where they write right-to-left, not left-to-right…something to think about, Mike 🙂 ) People are notorious scanners.  Humans created the ‘bots to take after their masters, and their masters do not have time to read anything unless hooked by a strong opening, ie, some compelling bit of copy they’ve spied “up and to the left.”

  • The same keyword(s) must be used so many times
    This is an easy one.  You only have to use a keyword as much as it makes sense to use it.  Typically, 3-4 instances on webpage will suffice, although you could potentially include it more if in reference to a branded company or product name.

    Remember – we’re writing for humans, here.  Use your keyword just enough that a human will know what it is you are talking about.  The ‘bots we create will follow-suit.

  • Internal links should be implemented within your web copy
    Gee whiz, I just wrote all this great stuff and now I have to worry about linking it to something else?  Think of it this way.  Some of the best jokes told by stand-ups comedians reference another joke recently told.  For the uninitiated, this is a “callback” – and it helps add a new level of fullness to the bit.

    Links in your copy are the same idea.  By linking to additional, relatable content your copy expands to feel fuller with very little extra effort on your part.

The best thing about taking a creative angle when approaching the rules of SEO copywriting?

Ensuring a successful website for your client (most important) and gaining recognition as a skilled and creative copywriter (a close second).

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  1. SEO Copywriting can be very creative, especially when your get your keywords right. I can see SEO copywriting is for you!

  2. In regards to the keyword to left issue and photo galleries I’m wondering about how far the bots go to decide a title is different?

    Right now if I have two photos of you at an event, the title tags generated are:

    Photo 1 Mike Yanke | 15th Annual Yanke Marketing Gala
    Photo 2 Mike Yanke | 15th Annual Yanke Marketing Gala

    Should I change that to say:

    Mike Yanke | 15th Annual Yanke Marketing Gala (Photo 1)
    Mike Yanke | 15th Annual Yanke Marketing Gala (Photo 2)

    Will a bot still go that far right to see them as different?

    • Hi Ian,

      Image search engines will look at anchor text to your image from pages on the same site, from external sites, text near the image, file size, URL, as well as alt text to distinguish one image over another for search results sorting purposes.

      Regarding how far to the right ‘bots will dare to travel, it might be 40 characters, it might be 75, and could vary for each type of search engine.

      Focus on providing succinct, accurate information – combined with creative, compelling descriptions – within the variety of factors you can control.

  3. Good points, Mike.

    I’ve also found that incorporating the key words or phrase(s) into an H tag also helps with the SEO optimization.

    And also, deviating from advice of many SEO ‘experts’, don’t be afraid of including relevant external links for fear of leaking ‘link juice’. Our impression is that including external links to relevant external sources can now actually help the ranking of a page.

  4. Avatar Stephanie Valentine says

    A very unique take on how SEO can be creative. I love unique points of view and you definitely have one! Thanks for making what can be a tedious approach to online marketing, like, fun again!

  5. There are a few SEO things you need to have in place for the article/post to rank, that is keyword in the headline, in the first paragraph, twice in the body text.Also, with WordPress “all-in-one-seo plugin” you will get most of the hassle done automatically.

  6. What a great idea for a post! And how true… I often find that staff members want to try new things and always the first response seems to be how well it will work, instead of just trying new things because we are creative AND in the marketing business. We need to start trusting our business sense and incorporate creativity with that.

  7. One mistake made is catering too much to SEO and not enough to the reader. Like you pointed out, humans read your blog, not Google.

  8. Great post. Love the fresh take and interesting tips.

  9. SEO should be an enhancement, but for whatever reason it has become a limiter. You can usually spot a dull SEO post right away, while a creative one is like a breath of fresh air.

  10. What a great article. It’s too bad that folks think that SEO copywriting is just a bunch of keyphrases shoved into the copy and is boring to write. Sure, SEO copywriting has it’s own “rules” and best practices. But discovering how to seamlessly add keyphrases into copy is never boring – and the process is always very creative!

    • Mike, you just received a HUGE compliment from one of the most important people there is in the SEO Copywriting field – Thanks Heather!

      • Hi Heather –

        Thank you for taking the time to comment, and please forgive my tardy follow-up.

        I have bookmarked your SEO Copywriting blog, and have a feeling I’ll be referencing your posts quite often in the future 🙂

        Thanks again!

        • Hi, Mike-

          You are welcome – and thanks for bookmarking my blog. We just finished the new design, and we’ll be relaunching everything in just a few days. Whew!

          Thanks again for writing such a great post about SEO copywriting. Have a great weekend. 🙂

  11. Great post, as i currently learning about SEO and understanding all the elements required. SEO copy writing has so many factors to it, adding the keywords in the correct places that i can see how it may feel restrictive, but thanks to this post i am reassured that it can still be creative.

  12. Wonderful advice. I definitely use all of these techniques when writing SEO copy and they work. I find that if I include the keyword phrases within the first 240 characters of the page, I get a better ranking. Today for the first time I heard that bots pick up links in RSS feeds and assit with your linking campaign – has anyone else ever heard of this? Thanks!

  13. Your line about “callbacks” in comedy routines is a great metaphor.

    Why would anyone not want to give some of their other content a little bit of a “plug” by linking to it from a new post they write. Look at it as a way to get a little more traffic to related posts. I love being able to do that and tend to try to work at least one or two related links to other posts I’ve written. It helps to tie everything together–like a comedians “callbacks.”

    And you are so right that these ‘bots were made as a reflection of the way humans think and interact with content. Great point. The best websites are the helpful–end of story! A website that provides valuable information and helps people find answers and solution quickly and easily will skyrocket to the top. Add a little SEO to it and it’s golden.

    I have a question for anybody out there that I can’t seem to find the answer to and this blog seems to be super authoritative, so I’m in your hands.

    What email marketing software/program should I use to collect email addresses and send out newsletters for my website? I’ve heard o aweber and constant contact, but it’s hard to find a legit unaffiliated review out there.

  14. When optimising a site and implementing your keywords into the content, it is important that your site still reads well and people will understand what you are talking about.

    There needs to be a correct balance between how many times you mention your keywords and how much text is on your page, else you will find yourself saying the same keyword in every other sentence.

  15. Harrison Ford wasn’t a robot in the movie. He was hunting robots. Poor copywriting – Irony?

    • Finally – the comment I’ve been secretly waiting for!

      There are two camps on the idea of whether Ford’s character was a repplicant. One (which includes Ford) that states Deckard was without a doubt human. A second (which includes directory Ridley Scott) that states Ford’s character was without a doubt a replicant.

      Depending on which version of the movie you see (ie theatrical cut, Director’s cut, final cut), and how you read into certain scenes (including the fabled unicorn sequence) the movie makes a strong case for both, causing constant debate among us nerds for over two decades now.

      Hence the photo caption, “Harrison Ford MAY have been a robot.” We may never know this for sure.

      What we do know, is that SEO copywriters are not.

      Thanks for the comment.