Optimise your optimisation

How to be a hit with customers and search engines

You don’t have to be a techie to understand the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) copywriting and make sure your website is getting it right. Anyway, that’s what agencies like Blackad are here to help with.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re commissioning a new site or updating your current one.

Think about SEO from the beginning

Lots of people approach SEO after their site is live. Not ideal. A good agency will thrash out SEO with you at the planning stage, at the same time you’re setting out the architecture (the structure of the site). That way, the SEO is built in – not bolted on.

Do your research

Or, rather, get some SEO research people to do it for you. (Some agencies have these in-house, others outsource the service.) You can do it yourself with Google’s keyword research tool – but we think it’s better to leave it to an expert. We can then add the right words to the copy and metadata as the site’s being written. This means it will read naturally, rather than being littered with glaringly obvious sales phrases. Like this artless sentence which mentions SEO copywriting, for example.

Write for customers, not search engines

Again, good digital writers will take care of this, but it’s something to watch out for. For example, using the keywords ‘cheap hotel London’ might deliver traffic, but it’ll only turn into paying business if you really are marketing a cheap hotel in London. If you’re not, no writer can weave that phrase in without it being anything other than misleading or horribly contrived.

On top of all that, Google’s now a lot smarter about ignoring sites that look wilfully ‘optimised’.

Other than bending truths, we also advise against too much repetition, long pages for the sake of fleshing out keywords, pages containing duplicate copy and nasty ‘forced’ phrases. They’re unnecessary and – in extreme cases – Google may punish your site for containing misleading or hidden content.

Don’t forget your titles

Page titles are the words that appear along the top of your browser, or on the tab label. Search engines and users rely on these. So make sure every page has a unique page title. Try to follow this format:

subject | area | company

Or to be more specific:

Cash ISAs | Savings | Anybank

We aim for around 65 characters for most page titles. Any more, and there’s a risk somebody somewhere won’t see the full title.

And aim for better meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the short pieces of copy that appear beneath company names on the search engine result pages (SERPs). It’s not actually ‘rated’ by the search engines, but gives users a strong clue about what the site contains. And while it may seem fairly insignificant, research tells us the right kind of meta description really can convince customers to click through to your site.

Good meta descriptions should be instantly persuasive. It might feel a little cheesy, but try to include action words: ‘Browse the UK’s biggest range of light bulbs’. You can also try outright calls to action such as ‘Find out more’, or even phone numbers. Meta descriptions have a maximum sensible length of around 140 characters, but if you’re trying to stand out, shorter is definitely better.

Want to know a bit more?

Call Alan on 0203 603 7740, or email copywriters@blackad.co.uk