When you use SEO best practices to inform conversion copywriting (and vice versa), amazing things can happen to the quality of your organic traffic and better yet, how that traffic engages in your sales funnel.
In this post, I’ll show you how to consider both SEO and conversion copywriting when writing your website.
Short on time? Here’s the TL;DR:
The term SEO copywriter used to rub me the wrong way. Like, a lot.
Let me explain.
You see, as someone well versed in both SEO and copywriting, I’ve always though of them as a left brain / right brain type of deal. They are separate but equal marketing strategies: one brings in the traffic, and other converts said traffic into leads and sales.
And while the two certainly overlap, the actual process of optimizing a web page for SEO and optimizing that same page for conversions often feels like two full-time jobs.
It’s like wearing two hats. One’s a floppy, chic fedora, and the other is a tweed deerstalker in herringbone. You can’t wear them both at the same time. You. Just. Can’t.
It’s like rubbing your stomach while tapping your head. Sneezing with your eyes open. Walking while eating.
Ok, you get the idea.
But…here’s the thing. When you truly use SEO to inform copywriting (and vice versa), amazing things can happen to the quality of your organic traffic and better yet, how that traffic participates in your sales funnel.
Copywriting is grounded in persuasion. The art of the sale. And a conversion copywriter explicitly presents copy at the right place, at the right moment, to propel us to act.
That call to action isn’t always a sale, of course. I could ask you to download a PDF, sign up for a newsletter, click a button, visit a page, or leave a review. The point is, though, that the copy is strategically selected and placed in front of a specific person…in order to present the most compelling and targeted case for action.
In order for conversion copywriting to be effective, it’s important to understand both WHO will find your offer compelling and WHERE that prospect is in your funnel. That is, how familiar are they with your brand and your product, and what action are they comfortable completing today? On this page and in this moment.
SEO or search engine optimization is the process of intentionally helping search engine crawlers find and categorize your website so that your pages surface to prospective customers in the SERPs (search engine results pages). When you’ve optimized your site well, you increase organic, unpaid traffic to your site. And if you deeply understand your user’s search intent and answer those queries through your site’s content, you’ll receive qualified leads to your site that want to invest time in your brand.
Solid SEO demands a healthy dose of on-page and technical optimization that reinforce your site’s expertise, authority, and trust. This is important to site visitors, of course, because none of us wants to waste our time on a spammy or unhelpful website. But it’s important to Google, too: serving up the best and most relevant websites to users means that people keep coming back to the search engine for information. And that is good for business.
What does this mean? Get your SEO right, and Google will reward you by ranking your content more prominently.
There’s a ying and yang approach to SEO copywriting because, at its core, we’re combining the best of two strategies in order to achieve our website goals.
Here are 5 ways to up your SEO game while still using copywriting tactics to both improve your search rankings AND convert site visitors into customers.
Ok, ok, so keyword stuffing was never officially an SEO best practice. But it sure felt like it was given how frequently a tactic it used to be. Regardless, gone are the days where choosing a handful of top-volume keywords and using them again and again and again is effective.
Today, focusing on user search intent is a far more valuable way to generate organic traffic.
There are really four types of search intent to concern yourself with:
Let’s look at an example of how this plays out:
When I’m shopping for new running shoes, I (personally) start by wondering what the best shoes are for ME. So I query an informational search: “how to find the right running shoe”.
The results are ‘top of funnel’ articles that explain how to choose the right shoes. There are also feature snippets (“People also ask…”) that give me other queries that answer my question:
If I want more information, I’d probably try a commercial investigation search next: “Best sneakers for women” so I can start to identify brands and styles that will suit my needs AND look cute:
OK, I know what I want now, so I’ll try to find the specific brand that I want. I may go direct to the brand site –“Nike’s women’s running shoes size 6” and order online–or I may want to go try them on in person: “women’s running shoes near me”
Before you go live with a new page, ask yourself: What kind of content am I serving up? Is it a product page meant to sell? A new blog post on a topic of interest within your vertical? A sales page?
Optimizing your page with keywords that match search intent is the best way to surface the right information at the right time for your users. Not only that, it’s a key strategy for getting your page showcased in a feature snippet, which will give you an overall likelihood of getting clicks even when you’re not in the top search results.
As we saw above, a prospect goes through many, many steps before landing on your website. They also likely need multiple exposures to your brand before purchasing from you, which is where your sales funnel becomes a crucial way of converting leads into customers.
Enter ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu stage left (take a bow).
ToFu is the top of your sales funnel, where new prospects first come into contact with your brand. MoFu then, is the middle of the funnel, where prospects become qualified leads. BoFu, or bottom of the funnel, is the highest stage of awareness, where leads are looking to buy.
You can loosely align your sales funnel with your prospect’s level of awareness about your brand and products. ToFu prospects are likely unaware or pain aware; MoFu prospects are solution and product aware; and BoFu prospects are most aware.
As your customers learn more about you, the more willing they are to take the next step toward your offer. In the interim, though, you need to keep your prospect moving through the sales funnel with micro-offers and engagements that meet them where they’re at but nudge them ever-so-gently toward a higher stage of awareness.
At the top of the funnel, provide content that’s informational, relevant, and engaging. Invite your prospects into your website and show them that you’re an authority on the problem they’re trying to solve.
Micro offers in this stage are unpaid and unaggressive. Show your prospect other content they may like, and introduce them to your products and services. You can also introduce your prospects to an opt in, or other ways to engage with your brand. These include following you on social media or signing up for your newsletter (although, be aware that your prospect may not yet be ready for this level of commitment).
Now that you have your prospect’s attention, you want to start a meaningful dialogue. This is where your lead generation kicks into high gear. Your prospect is already solution aware at this point, and interested (or at least willing) in hearing how YOU can step in as the solution provider. Now is the time to offer valuable and free content to your prospect that demonstrates why you are the right solution. Here are some examples of lead magnets:
Since you’re offering valuable solutions for free, it’s fair to ask for something in return. Collect an email address and/or invite them to join your private Facebook group so you can begin engaging with them more directly.
Hubspot estimates that half of your qualified leads aren’t yet ready to buy. So, how do you get them from solution or product aware to most aware? At the point in the funnel, you’ve given them solid free content and create an opportunity for additional dialogue. Now it’s time ramp up your off-site content to connect more intentionally with your prospect.
Then you’re ready to present your offer, and your prospect (more importantly) will be ready to hear it. There are always several ways to connect more intentionally, but here are a couple of the most common:
Email: Automated (or drip) email campaigns and sales or nurture sequences are the best and most immediate way to propel your prospect from aware to most aware. Start with a welcome sequence that begins when they sign up for your lead magnet, and then introduce them to your offer. A good rule of thumb is to send three great nurture emails to every one sales email. This builds the added trust you need to convert prospects to customers.
Private groups: Private communities hosted on Facebook and other social platforms are an additional way to create ongoing, meaningful contact with prospects. Again, balance your nurture content with sales content to ensure you don’t lose your prospect’s trust. No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to all the time.
If ever there were an SEO copywriting motto to live by, this one has remained a consistent best practice for ranking. But it’s also good copywriting. Always take the time to present well-researched, well-thought out, and highly engaging content for your readers. Use storytelling, case studies, and examples to make your case. Delight and engage your reader so they want to come back for more. Frame your argument well, and use persuasion tactics to convince, compel, and connect.
And most importantly, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s people who matter for rankings, not bots. Sure, the bots needs clarity and structure, but your content is first and foremost for the readers who will engage with it.
We’ve established that your content is primarily for humans to read and enjoy, but on-page SEO is for the bots. These best practices provides a search engine crawler with the clarity it needs to properly index and categorize your web page so that it surfaces at the right time. Before you publish a new page, take the additional time to make sure it’s properly optimized:
Micro content sounds kinda fancy but really it’s about looking for new ways to engage with your audience, both onsite and offsite. It’s also how you create a consistent brand voice so that your brand resonates with prospects across multiple channels. For the purposes of your SEO, micro content allows you to reach new search engines and get your voice in front of bigger audiences.
Here’s an example of how to implement micro content.
One piece of great content can be turned into several micro-pieces that your prospects can engage with across social platforms.
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