Tag Archives: seo copywriting

What do I deliver through my content writing services?

What do I deliver with my content writing services?

What do I deliver with my content writing services?

I have been telling my clients increasingly that when they are paying me, they’re not paying for the words and sentences that I write. They are paying for the value that I deliver.

I’m gradually shifting away from the messaging that conveys that I deliver content writing services. Of course, I write content and hence, I deliver content writing services, it isn’t just the writing that are offered. Through my writing, my clients benefit because

  • Their search engine rankings improve.
  • The quality of their interaction and engagement elevates.
  • They communicate their proposition clearly.
  • They establish themselves as an authority.
  • People stay longer on their websites and blogs.
  • They generate more leads.
  • Their business grows.

One may say that these are standard benefits that are assumed delivered when someone writes content, and I agree.

Every content writer must talk in these terms. Every website thrives on the shoulders of its content. Without content, a website has no meaning. Just imagine, you go on a website, and you find just images and graphics. Will you do business with such a website?

Or say, there is written text on the website, but it is uninspiring. It uses staid language. There are grammar mistakes. There is no flow consistency. The inherent narrative is missing. Most of the time the readers leave midway, forget about doing business.

Quality content writing is invaluable. Everyone, including content writers and people who hire them, need to understand that without written content, without content that convinces and converts, the website holds no meaning.

Is it fine to copy someone else’s content?

Is it fine to copy content for SEO?

Is it fine to copy content for SEO?

You need to know whether it is an ethical question, an SEO-related question or a practical one.

Recently I was brainstorming a client’s content strategy on a Zoom meeting and SEO guy had also joined. I know there are many reputed SEO companies that are doing great work, but I’m quite wary of SEO people who want to manipulate content to improve search engine rankings instead of following the quality and relevance of the content itself to automatically improve rankings.

During the conversation he very casually said that I should copy content from other websites and then shuffle it and change a few words here and there and it would be great for SEO. He said that it’s good to copy content from high-ranking websites because they have already improved their search engine rankings with that particular content format.

I was like, WTF? I mean, I didn’t verbally object because the client is quite enamored with the SEO guy, but inside my mind, I was already figuring how not to butt in and remain focused on the core topic – how to write valuable content that will organically improve the clients search engine rankings.

Let’s put aside the fact that Google may realize that you have copied the content from another website and therefore, you should be penalized, for a while.

Let’s focus on the ethical issue here. But before that, let’s also be realistic.

As a content writer, how do I define “copying content from another website or blog”? When does it become plagiarism?

Difference between plagiarism and ideation

I think we all know the meaning of plagiarism – picking content as it is and then using it as your own, verbatim mostly.

Even if you pick content and then change a few words here and there but more or less keep the entire thing intact without changing even the sentence structure, still it is plagiarism.

Plagiarism is a very serious issue in academics, research papers, scientific journals, journalistic writing and books and novels. As a student you can be expelled from a course. As a scientist you can be debarred and humiliated. As a journalist you invite contamination and ridicule. As an author you can be sued, and you may have to pay damages.

As a content writer, although it may be difficult for the aggrieved party to take action against you, if someone is hellbent upon taking action, he or she can. For example, an aggrieved party can approach your web hosting company if your web hosting company has a policy against plagiarism and copyright violation. They can take down your website. If you’re in the same country legal action can also be initiated.

It’s mostly Google penalization that deters people from plagiarizing content. Google can blacklist your website if you are a repeat offender.

But what about rewriting something completely in your own style, in your own language? Many bloggers do that. I have written tips on content writing and hundreds of other websites and blogs have published tips on content writing. Similarly, websites telling you how to improve your search engine rankings are everywhere. They have the same information, it’s just that, they have rewritten the information with slight changes, and with their own take.

Just because Wikipedia has an article on what is blockchain doesn’t mean I cannot publish a blog post on the topic of what is blockchain. Similarly, just because Investopedia has explained what is bookkeeping, another website cannot explain it. This is not copying. This is not plagiarism. It is because you’re presenting the information in your own language, in your own writing, in your own style. It becomes plagiarism when you directly pick the Investopedia article and publish it under your own domain name as your own article.

What about creating a famous story? Many authors have done that. Mary Shelley’s stories have been rewritten. Greek mythologies have been rewritten. Ramayana and Mahabharata have been rewritten. Sherlock Holmes novels have been rewritten. The main stress is on originality vis-à-vis your style. You can tell the same story in a different matter.

Should you copy content from another website to improve your SEO?

Now that we know what plagiarism is and what is not plagiarism even when you are writing the same thing, let’s come to the ethical issue.

Frankly, to an average client it does not matter how, as a content writer, I write content that improves his or her search engine rankings. The client is not worried about legal issues or even with the prospect of someone accosting him or her and complaining about plagiarism. The client is majorly worried about the SEO implications – Google may penalize the website, or even blacklist it, which would be disastrous. As long as Google is fine, most of the clients are fine.

As a content writer, I’m not.

Almost every client hires me to write original content, even if Google is the only reason. Like pirated software, pretty much everyone is okay with picking content from other websites as long as it is safe to do so.

But I have been hired to write original content. If I’m not writing original content, am I not cheating my client?

You may say that the client is hiring me less for the originality of my content and more for my ability to create content that improves his or her search engine rankings, no matter what.

He or she is not bothered with originality. He or she is bothered with search engine rankings.

If I copy the content from somewhere else, if Google does not penalize the website and if Google improves the website’s search engine rankings, who the hell is the client to complain?

No matter how bad it sounds, I can understand this point of view. Nonetheless, I am a writer first, and then I am a content writer. As a writer, I take pride in my writing. If I copy content from another website, even if someone doesn’t detect that, I know that it reeks of my inability to write effectively. It shows that the other writer whose content I’m copying is better than me as a writer. He or she was able to write that beautiful piece of content that I’m shamelessly copying. He or she is a better writer. I’m just a pretender. I’m just an impostor.

No, I don’t expect clients to understand this.

 

How do I write search engine friendly content for my clients?

How to write SEO-friendly content

How to write SEO-friendly content.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to come up with interesting content to write about on a regular basis on my blog. I was answering to a Quora question and I thought, answers to some of my Quora questions can also be used to write blog posts.

I was providing an answer the following question: How do I write content that is SEO friendly?

Steps to writing SEO-friendly content:

  1. Include the main keywords in the title.
  2. Include the keywords in the meta description.
  3. Mention the keywords within the first 100 words of your write up.
  4. Focus on writing answers to specific queries.
  5. Write for search intent.
  6. Write shorter sentences.
  7. Use headings and subheadings.
  8. Focus on longtail keywords.
  9. Link to other blog posts and web pages from your current blog post or web page.
  10. Write short paragraphs.
  11. Summarize using bulleted points.

To be frank, I have written on the topic multiple times on my blog, but I can always add new things. I’m constantly learning new ways to write search engine friendly content. In this post I’m going to expand what I wrote on Quora.

Should you go overboard with writing SEO-friendly content?

The problem with writing SEO-friendly content is that sometimes people go overboard and ignore the bigger picture. Your content succeeds not because it gets you higher search engine rankings, it succeeds because it provides relevant information that can be quickly understood.

For many website owners and bloggers it’s SEO that’s most important. This does you more harm than good.

Even if right now you have better search engine rankings because you think you have cracked the search engine algorithm, if you’re not satisfying your visitors, the rankings go down.

This is because your rankings depend a lot on your bounce rate. If people find your link, come to your website, and then leave immediately because they don’t find the information they are looking for, Google and other search engines know that.

So, even in the beginning if you can improve your rankings because of “strategically” using your keywords, ultimately, it all boils down to how people interact with your content.

What exactly is SEO-friendly content writing?

I don’t believe that SEO-friendly content writing means content writing that improves your search engine rankings. Your search engine rankings depend on 200+ factors.

So, solely focusing on writing SEO-friendly content doesn’t help you much.

What is SEO-friendly content writing?

It is writing in a manner that it makes it easier for search engine crawlers to crawl your main content. Once the main content is crawled, the search engine algorithms should be able to make sense of your content. They should be able to make out what you are communicating. This, is SEO-friendly content writing.

Do I keep SEO in mind when writing content for my clients?

I definitely do.

Valuable content is necessary, but how I present that valuable content can have an impact on search engine rankings. Here are a few things I do when writing SEO content for my clients:

Include the main keyword in the title

There is a difference between the title and the headline. The title here means the string of text that appears in in the title bar of your browser window when you visit a website. This is the title:

Example of the website title containing keywords

Example of the website title containing keywords

By main keyword I don’t mean a single word. Target for a phrase of around 3-4 words. Nobody searches for a single word. People either ask a question or search for a phrase that contains a few words.

Many content marketing experts may tell you that it doesn’t really matter if you use your main keyword in your title, but it does. Whether the Google algorithm takes the keyword in the title into consideration are not, is another matter.

There is a logical reason why you must have your main keyword in your title.

Research has revealed that when a part of the search query that a user has just used appears as a hyperlink in the search results, the user is more likely to click the link.

This sends more people to your website or that particular link.

And if your link is relevant, this signals to Google that the rankings of this particular link should be raised.

Include the keywords in the meta description

I know, sometimes meta description text may not be a part of content writing, but many times my clients ask me to write the meta description too.

When you include your primary and secondary keywords in the meta description, Google highlights them.

Example of the meta description containing keywords

Example of the meta description containing keywords.

Again, this prompts more people to click your link and this in turn improves your bounce rate, which in turn, improves your SEO.

Mention the keywords within the first 100 words

I have arrived at this logic by trial and error.

When the search engine crawler comes to your website it may not get a chance to crawl your entire piece of content. Hence, if it does not encounter your main keywords, it may not associate the keywords with the body text.

Therefore, it is important that you mention your primary and secondary keywords within the first 100 words of your web page or blog post text.

Create a context though. Don’t just randomly use the words

Focus on writing answers to specific queries

Google loves the question-answer format. People ask questions and Google find the answers.

For example, you may have come to this post if you searched for “How do I write search engine friendly content?”

I’m not saying that you should always write in the format of question-answer, but this sort of content fares better than the usual content.

Write for search intent

If you want to know what is search intent, you may like to read my blog post on the same topic: Why search intent is most important when writing content for your website.

Search intent is a very big factor when Google is evaluating your content. It is the intention with which a search engine user uses a query when searching for something.

You can easily write content targeting specific search intents described in the above link. The more you write content targeting specific search intents, the more SEO-friendly your content is.

Write shorter sentences

Shorter sentences are easier to read. They are also easier for search engine algorithms to process, analyze and evaluate.

Using shorter sentences does not mean that you are a novice writer. In fact, it shows that you are a confident writer. You have got nothing to prove to anyone.

Well, that’s a different issue, but one of the biggest benefits of writing shorter sentences is that you express a single thought in a single sentence, which makes it easier even for your readers to read. It doesn’t tax the brain.

Use headings and subheadings

Screenshot of headings and subheadings

Screenshot of headings and subheadings.

Headings and subheadings amplify your primary and secondary keywords. They also make it easier to organize your content under various sections. Headings and subheadings also make your writing scannable.

Since you use your primary and secondary keywords in your headings and subheadings, the Google algorithm thinks that they must be important to your message.

Focus on longtail keywords

Shorter keywords are quite competitive. For example, if I try to optimize my writing for “content writer” or “content marketing services” it may be difficult for me to rank for these keywords because they are highly competitive, and many bigger companies are already ranking quite high for them.

So, what do I do?

I aim for something like “indisputable benefits of content marketing”. This makes it easier to rank my content.

You will be surprised to know that most of your traffic comes from longtail keywords.

Longtail keywords exist in the form of longer such queries. They are phrases that contain 3-4 words.

Link to other blog posts and web pages from your current blog post or web page

Contextually, though.

Suppose, I want to elaborate on the indisputable benefits of content marketing. If I have already published a blog post on it, I will be creating duplicate content needlessly if I explain the same thing again. Hence, I just say, in case you want to read about the indisputable benefits of content marketing.

This does not just make it easier to refer to your existing content, it also allows the search engine crawlers to come across your old links in case they haven’t yet been crawled.

Write short paragraphs

The logic is the same as writing short sentences. It is easier to read shorter paragraphs. Both for humans and the search engine algorithms.

In fact, there are many renowned content publishers who use just a single sentence in a paragraph, but you can easily use a couple of sentences.

Another benefit of writing shorter paragraphs is that they are easier to read on mobile phones.

Summarize using bulleted lists

Just as headings and subheadings make your content scannable, so do the bulleted lists. People tend to read the bulleted lists more than plain sentences and paragraphs.

In bulleted lists, you don’t even need to write complete sentences. You can sum up your points in monosyllables. In bulleted lists, the information is more important than how you write it.

These are the main points that I wanted to cover. If you take care of them, it can make it easier for you to write SEO-friendly content.

The inalienable relationship between copywriting and SEO

Copywriting isn’t just about writing ads these days. When we are writing copy for websites and blogs, it goes beyond selling stuff, although, I must admit that selling stuff is one of the most important functions of copywriting.

As a copywriter writing for websites and blogs, you need to pay close attention to the SEO aspect of writing. Of late I have been repeatedly stressing that you shouldn’t allow your SEO to dominate your writing, but it doesn’t mean you completely ignore it. There is a complete branch called SEO copywriting.

Is there even a separate field called SEO copywriting? It depends. There are many writers on the web who call themselves SEO copywriters but mostly it’s about striking a balance between writing compelling copy and writing in a manner that improves the website’s search engine rankings.

On day-to-day basis, there are very few clients who understand the difference between a content writer and copywriter. When you are writing for a business website, for example for a homepage or for services page, you’re not writing content, you are writing copy, copy that is intended to “sell”. Clients want that from you. Whenever you are writing to sell and not just to inform and educate, you’re being a copywriter and not a content writer.

At the same time they also give you a list of keywords you need to optimize the content for. Therefore, you’re not merely selling through your writing, you are also incorporating keywords to improve search engine rankings. Whether it actually improves your rankings or not is another issue, but this is what you call SEO copywriting.

Why do I say there is an inalienable relationship between copywriting & SEO?
Because the line is blurred. The content writer is also a copywriter when writing for the main website and since as a content writer one of your primary jobs is to improve search engine rankings, even as a copywriter you are trying to achieve the same.

Of course, this is difficult to explain to the clients and personally I feel even if they can make a difference, they won’t accept it because a copywriter charges more than a content writer. A different topic for a different day.

Don’t obsess over SEO as long as you’re delivering meaningful content

I was just reviewing a web hosting package for someone I know and came across an add-on package that tells you whether you are publishing SEO-friendly content or not.

Do these “SEO packages” really help? What about the SEO add-ons? I recently removed an SEO plug-in from my WordPress setup.

SEO is of two types:

  1. Structural SEO
  2. Content-based SEO

Although there are also on-site and off-site SEO tactics, but in the context of my current blog post, I’m just going to stick to the two above-mentioned SEO types.

What is structural SEO?

This makes sure that the basic structure of your website or web pages/blog posts is SEO-friendly.

To make sense of your web page or your blog post, the search engines like Google take into consideration the keywords within your title. This is debatable, but most of the SEO experts agree that a title containing your keywords is particularly important.

Your title is also important because it appears in search engine listings as a hyperlink.

Screenshot of title and description

Screenshot of title and description.

Multiple studies have revealed that if your title contains the words that have just been used in the search query, the greater number of people click your link.

The same goes with the description. Your keywords or parts of your keywords should appear in your description because then these keywords are highlighted by Google.

Hence, every web page for every blog post must have a clearly defined title and a description.

There is also a “keywords” meta tag but it is no longer relevant.

Another important aspect of structural SEO is, how easy it is for the search engine crawlers to access your main content.

If the crawler has to go through lots of source code (JavaScript, CSS, HTML, add-ons and plug-ins) before accessing your actual content, this negatively affects your search engine rankings. It is because sometimes the crawler leaves your website or a particular web page or blog post without even evaluating your main content because most of its time goes into crossing the jungle of your source code.

How fast your web page or blog post loads also has a direct impact on your overall search engine rankings. Make sure that your web pages and blog posts load fast, preferably within three seconds.

So, these are the components of structural SEO:

  • The title containing the main keyword or the search query.
  • Various combinations of the keyword or the search query in the description.
  • Easy access to the main content for the search engine crawlers.
  • Faster loading blog posts and web pages.

Most of the content management systems these days allow you to preset these structural SEO components. For example, in WordPress you can use Yoast SEO to make sure that whenever you publish a new web page or blog post, you separately enter the title and the description.

Structural SEO is not something that you need to do repeatedly.

What is content-based SEO?

It is mostly writing content that is most suitable to the query being used by your user.

Suppose a user looks for “Which is the best content writing service in India?”

To satisfy this query, you can either list 10-15 content writing services and then choose the best among them, or you can explain why your content writing service is the best in India.

In both the cases, you should remain true to the topic. You must talk about the best content writing service in India. When the user visits this link, he or she should get the answer he or she is looking for.

This doesn’t mean that the answer must be perfect. Maybe the search engine user doesn’t want to find information about your content writing service or why your content writing service is the best. He or she may be just looking for a comparative analysis of multiple content writing services.

Whatever you write, just make sure that you are providing an answer to the question being asked.

The next thing to keep in mind is, mention the main query or the keyword within the first 100 words. There is a logical reason.

The search engine crawler doesn’t always go through your entire text. It may simply go through the first few paragraphs, or even less. Hence it is important that the crawler comes across your main keyword or the main search query string as early as possible.

Other than this, there is no need to obsess about SEO. Focus on the quality, and to an extent the quantity of your content. Publish regularly. Right on relevant topics. It doesn’t matter whether you write 400 words or 4000 words.

What matters is the substance. Don’t necessarily extend the length of your web pages or blog posts simply because research has proven that most of the web pages and blog posts that get featured on the first search result page contain more than 1300 words. It differs from industry to industry.