A crash course in SEO copywriting

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Hey there, Aggee here.

This guide is for you if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and do some SEO copywriting.

What is SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting is the sweet spot between writing copy that grabs the attention of search engines and resonates with your audience.

Keyword research and keyword optimisation are the two main stages of SEO copywriting.

In a nutshell, here’s how these two processes work:

Keyword research

Keyword research is about finding the keywords your customers are searching for.

Let’s say you’re running a French bakery in London.

Your ideal customers might be searching for something like french bakery london

If they Googled that keyword and arrived at your bakery’s landing page, they’d find exactly what they’re looking for.

It’d be a match made in heaven.

So you’d be smart to go for a keyword like that.

This is keyword research at its most basic level – you go after the keywords your customers are directly searching to find your products and services.

Nothing too complicated.

But keyword research isn’t always this straightforward.

Your customers won’t always search for your products and services directly.

They could just as easily find our French bakery through any of these other searches:

Your ideal customers could find your business from a lot more keywords than you probably realise. 

A good SEO content writer knows how to cover all bases and consider all the keywords customers could be using, e.g. category keywords, bottom of funnel keywords, comparison keywords, and alternative keywords, etc.

We’ll go through these types of different keywords later on in the guide.

Keyword optimisation

The next step is keyword optimisation:

Keyword optimisation is about finding and slotting those golden keywords into your copy to make your content more relevant in Google’s eyes.

Think of it this way: search engines like Google use algorithms to match user searches to the most relevant content.

Keywords are one of the ways search engines measure the relevancy of your content.

So when you add target keywords into your copy, it’s like you’re giving Google a friendly reminder, “Hey look, my content matches what these users are searching for.”

But like I said before, you want to find a sweet spot by writing content that works for SEO and for your readers.

The last thing you want is to pack your content with the same keywords over and over again.  

This is the way a lot of people do keyword optimisation.

The problem with this approach? It makes your content sound forced and robotic. It doesn’t read well.

When you write content with only SEO in mind, it starts to sound a little like this:

At our French bakery in London, we proudly offer the finest French pastries, bread, and delights that set us apart as the best French bakery in London. 

If you’re seeking a French bakery in London with an authentic touch, our bakery is your ideal destination.

That’s a recipe for visitors leaving your page after 5 seconds. 

How to do keyword research

Great.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, time to dig into some practical keyword research tips.

In this section, we’ll discuss two main points: 

  • The problem with how most SEOs do keyword research.
  • The better way of doing keyword research.

 Let’s get started:

The problem with how most SEOs do keyword research

As an SEO strategist/copywriter, I spend a lot of my time helping websites brush up their SEO and copywriting.

I’ve dealt with a lot of SEO cases over the years — from the industry giants hunting for competitive keywords to the small businesses searching for low-volume, local keywords.

Most folks target the wrong keywords because of one common mistake:

They don’t tie their keyword strategy to their business strategy.

Rather than picking their keywords strategically, they simply chase every single keyword related to their niche or industry and hope for the best. 

This leads to wasted resources, because you spend all your time gunning for keywords that produce no results.

Start by targeting keywords that tie into your audience’s interests. 

The more specific, the better.

Let’s talk about how to target great keywords based on audience interest:

How I do keyword research

It’s easier to find good, specific keywords if you understand the your customers’ pain points.

“What’s a pain point?” I hear you ask.

Good question.

A pain point is basically a problem or challenge that your customers face. It’s something that causes discomfort, frustration, or a need for improvement.

When people face these challenges, they’ll sometimes search for queries related to their pain points.  

The folks over at Grow and Convert call these types of keywords pain-point keywords. 

I like that phrase so that’s what we’ll be using here too.

You simply target the pain-point keyword and present your product or services as the solution to alleviate that pain point.

Of course, that’s easier said than done right?

Let’s break it down into three steps:

1. List down the main pain points

Simply note down three or four challenges you help clients solve with your products and services. Start from there.

Pick out the recurring customer complaints, challenges, or frustrations in your niche.

These pain points often translate into keywords.

For example,  let’s say we’re running a SaaS company providing a video editing software.

These are some of the challenges customers could be facing when deciding on a video editing software:

  • Hard to learn: Some software is difficult for beginners to figure out.
  • Expensive: Good video editing software can be costly, and not everyone can afford it.
  • Time-consuming: Editing videos can be time-consuming.
  • No options for collaborative work: Some software makes it hard for people to edit videos together, which is important for group projects.

2. Brainstorm keyword ideas based on pain points

Once you know what the pain points are, it’s easier to guess what your target audience will be searching.

If you need some help finding ideas, I’d recommend using ChatGPT to brainstorm keyword ideas.

Open up ChatGPT and type in this search query.

I want to write an article targeting <insert your clients and their pain points>. List some examples of keywords my target audience could be searching for.

We can try it out with our SaaS company example:

I want to write an article targeting people looking for cheap video editing software. List some examples of keywords my target audience could be searching for.

We run our query into ChatGPT and we get this:

Now these might not be the exact keywords people are searching on Google, but it gives us a good base to start from.

Pick out some keywords from ChatGPT’s list. No more than 5 or 6.

Then you can use Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator to review them one at a time.

If I type this keyword cheap video editing software into Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator, I can get suggestions for similar keywords people are searching.

Two steps.

Step one: type your keyword into the Keyword Generator search bar.

Step two: Pick the keywords that are most relevant and have a good keyword difficulty to search volume ratio.

The best thing about it? Ahrefs Keyword Generator is free. So you don’t even have to pay a dime to get this info.

However, Ahrefs Keyword Generator shows a limited amount of keywords on its free version. 

So if you’re looking to tap into more keyword data and opportunities, you’d be better off getting the full version of a keyword tool.

I’d recommend Mangool’s Keyword Finder, a keyword research tool that works well for both newbies and seasoned veterans.

Keyword Finder simplifies the keyword research process, delivering insights on search volumes, trends, and competition.

You can test-try it right here. 

Simply type your keyword below and dig into the keyword data:

If you decide to upgrade to one of Mangools’ plans, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Keyword Finder is a part of Mangools suite of SEO tools. Their plans also feature other tools, including:

  • SERPChecker: A tool for analysing the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for specific keywords.
  • SERPWatcher: Monitors your keyword positions in search engines over time.
  • LinkMinder: A backlink analysis tool to explore and analyse backlinks.
  • SiteProfiler: Provides in-depth website analysis, including SEO metrics, backlinks, and more.

The basic plan starts at $26.91.

You can find the rest of Mangool’s pricing plans here.

If you do choose to upgrade, thank you :).

3. Create content that solves pain points

Once you’ve got your keyword, the final step is to create content that perfectly fits what Google and your customers are looking for.

How do you know what they’re looking for?

The top search results for your keyword will give you a clue.

Again, let’s circle back to our video editing software scenario.

A peek at the top 10 pages quickly reveals that comparison posts perform the best for our target keyword cheap video editing software

Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant results. It understands exactly what its users want to see.

In this scenario, people searching cheap video editing software want to see content that compares the best and cheapest video editing software.

A comparison post would work best. 

It’d be hard to rank a different content format for that keyword, e.g. a landing page or a Ten Benefits of Using Video Editing Software article.

Try it out yourself.

Look at the top search results for your keyword.

Follow the same format as their content, but make it better.

If it’s a comparison post, knock it out of the park.

If it’s a review, write a better, more detailed one.

Then find a way to pitch your product or service in the content. 

Now it’s easier to find specific pain point keywords like cheap video editing software when you’re selling a product in an industry as popular as video editing.

The more popular the industry, the more variety of searches.

You have more keywords to go after.

That’s why there are so many variations of the keyword video editing software

This becomes harder when your product is more niche, e.g. time event management software or veterinary software.

And in that case, you’ll need to know about the other keywords you can target:

Types of keywords

Seed keywords

Think of these keywords as the starting point, the “seeds” from which other related keywords sprout.

These are typically broad and general terms relevant to your topic or industry.

For a travel website, the seed keywords could be travel destinations, budget travel or adventure travel.

From there, you can branch out to more specific keywords like travel destinations in scandinavia or budget travel for solo travellers.

Most businesses will already have some idea of what their seed keyword ideas are.

If you don’t, you can do some keyword research to find out.

Here are some more steps you can take to find your seed keyword:

Google's suggestions and Autocomplete

  • Think of any keyword related to your industry, products or services.
  • Start typing that keyword into Google’s search bar.
  • Pay attention to the autocomplete suggestions and related searches at the bottom of the search results. These are potential offshoots of your seed keywords.

Local keywords

This section will mostly be relevant to brick-and-mortar businesses that serve customers from a physical location.

Your local restaurants, retail stores, clinics and service providers like plumbers and electricians – these are the types of businesses that will benefit most from local SEO.

So if your business falls under this category, follow these tips: 

Find location-based keywords

I touched on these types of keywords earlier in the introduction.

These are some of the easiest keywords to find because they’re pretty self explanatory.

Most local keywords follow this formula:

[the product/service you provide] in [your city/town/neighbourhood]

Use Keyword Generator to discover location-based phrases that people in your area use when searching for your products/services.

Local SEO case study

Let me give you an example of how impactful local keywords can be.

One of my first SEO campaigns was for an external wall insulation installer that only provided their services in a 50-mile radius of their headquarters.

At first, their keyword strategy was to focus on the high-volume, competitive keyword external wall insulation.

This keyword racks up 12,000 monthly searches in the UK alone.

That’s nothing to sneeze at.

It would have made sense for them to focus on targeting this keyword, right? Wrong.

We found that the better approach was to narrow our reach and target more keywords that focused on the areas they served.

We switched up our strategy and started targeting lower-volume but easier keywords like external wall insulation nottingham.

These type of keywords focused more on the local area.

The result? Conversions flew through the roof.

Of course, these local keywords receive a lot less monthly searches, but narrowing our reach meant that we were targeting our specific audience more.

We got less traffic, but higher conversions in the long run.

Bottom of funnel keywords

When you sink your teeth into enough SEO projects, you quickly learn that vanity metrics like search volume don’t matter. 

At least, not in the grand scheme of things.

Sure, an uptick in organic traffic looks pretty impressive on a client report. 

But that traffic isn’t worth much if it’s not translating to leads or conversions.

I failed a lot more at SEO before I understood one simple rule. 

And that rule is this:

Always start with the bottom of the funnel keywords first (unless for whatever reason brand awareness is more important than conversions for you).

Hunt down the high-converting keywords and then work your way up the funnel.

I love a good scenario.

So here’s one:

Let’s say you were running a content marketing agency and wanted to drive more of that sweet, relevant website traffic.  

You could play to the same old tune as other agencies by chasing after those broad keywords like: 

  • digital marketing trend
  • content marketing strategies

A peek into Semrush would confirm that yes, these keywords are your ticket to the lion’s share of traffic from search results:

But these keywords lack what we call buying intent.

Simply put, the chances of that one client reading your Top 10 Digital Marketing Trends article and then making a beeline for your services are a little like finding a needle in a haystack – pretty low.

The folks searching for digital marketing trends could range anywhere from:

  • Small business owners/entrepreneurs  Looking for cost-effective ways to establish and grow their online presence.
  • Marketing students  Studying marketing and seeking practical insights and examples.
  • Bloggers/content creators – Searching for tips to improve the quality and reach of their content.
  • Freelancers – Looking for guidance on offering content marketing services to their clients.

The odds are less stacked against you when you shift gears and target keywords with high buying intent.

Finding keywords that show buying intent allows for a more direct sales approach.

Keywords like content marketing agency and content marketing services.

So I spent the last minute or so harping on about why BOFU keywords are so great. Let’s talk about how you can target these types of keywords in your content.

I’ll be taking a leaf out of Grow and Convert’s playbook with this next tip:

Target these types of BOFU keywords to maximise conversions from organic traffic:

  • Category keywords 
  • Comparison and alternative keywords

Category keywords

Users searching for these keywords are likely ready to invest in a solution and are looking for the best options in the category.

Example: If your product is a project management software, a good category keyword might be project management software.

But you could break your keywords into smaller categories or target similar variations.

For example, you could target more specific category keywords related to various features (e.g. task tracking, collaboration tools, etc), industry sectors (e.g. IT, construction, etc) or product category variations (e.g. software or apps).

So these are the variations we could get target for the keyword project management software, depending on niche:

  • task management software
  • team collaboration software
  • IT project management software
  • project management software for construction

Comparison and alternative keywords

Users entering these queries are in the comparison phase and are actively seeking the best fit for their needs.

An example of a comparison keyword is asana vs. trello 

For context, Asana is a widely used project management software. And Trello is one of their biggest competitors.

They targeted that keyword to attract people who are weighing their options and deciding between Asana and Trello for their project management needs.

And, of course, because it’s an Asana-written article, the content will put more effort to pitch Asana’s software as the go-to solution.

Textbook SEO.

Another keyword that Asana could have targeted is alternatives to trello 

Alternative keywords are slightly similar to comparison keywords, except they target the people looking for other options than your competitors.

So there’s an even better opportunity for you to slide in and present your product or service as that alternative option.

How to write for search intent

Now there are three types of search intent: 

  • Informational intent
  • Navigational intent
  • Transactional intent

Let’s dig into each one.

Informational intent

Informational intent refers to the user’s desire to gain knowledge or find answers to specific questions.

Searchers with informational intent want content that educates them about a particular topic. They’re not necessarily looking to buy something.

Look out for keywords like how to, what is, guide, tips, or anything that indicates the user is looking to educate thesmelves.

For example, if someone searches for how to choose running shoes, they are likely in the informational phase.

They’re looking for detailed guides, infographics, and expert insights on factors to consider when selecting running shoes, for e.g. arch type, running style, and terrain.

Also, if the query revolves around understanding a concept, learning a skill, or exploring information, it’s likely informational intent.

Longer, more detailed queries can be a clue too, as users often ask complete questions when seeking information.

Navigational intent

Navigational intent is when a user is looking for a specific website, page, or resource.

Navigational intent often reveals itself through keywords that indicate users want to reach a specific website or page.

Look out for brand names, website names, or terms like login, download, or official site.

When users are essentially using the search engine as a navigation tool to reach a particular destination on the web, you’re likely dealing with navigational intent.

It’s less about exploring or buying and more about getting straight to a specific destination.

Customise your content by offering direct links, and clear navigation instructions.

Transactional intent

Transactional intent means users are ready to buy or do something specific.

When you notice words like buy, order, or specific product names, it’s likely the user is looking to make a transaction. 

If the search involves finding deals, discounts, or details about shipping and prices, that’s another hint.

More ideas

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