Insider Secrets of Writing for Search Engines

Posted on 08. Mar, 2006 in Making Money

Practically anyone with a website is interested in being listed high on the search engines. However, few people actually understand what it takes to achieve rankings that will bring about qualified visitors. Copywriting pro Karon Thackston specializes in writing website copy that helps to achieve exceptional search engine positioning. She’s agreed to hold a “tell all” session with me, and to divulge some of her secrets.

CATHY: Hi, Karon. Thanks so much for talking with me about this subject.

KARON: Always a pleasure, Cathy. Glad to help.

CATHY: Let’s start with the basics, shall we? What is search engine optimized copy?

KARON: Well, Cathy, basically search engine optimized (SEO) copy is text on your website that has been written in such a way that it incorporates the specific key phrases you hope to be found under when search results for those phrases are returned. It uses those key phrases in strategic places, and in “balanced repetition” in order to show the relevance of your pages to the engines.

CATHY: And why is search engine optimized copy important?

KARON: All search engines that use “spiders” (automated programs that scan your site) have certain criteria in order for your site to be accepted. Almost every one of those criteria deals with your copy (text). The spiders read your HTML code in order to judge your site’s viability. It just so happens that your code is all text. Because of that fact, having search engine compatible copy is the number one consideration when trying to get high rankings.

CATHY: So then, how do I know if I have search engine optimized copy? I didn’t create my website although I did write the copy.

KARON: SEO copy normally has to be written with the engines in mind. However, you will occasionally find very targeted sites where the copy was not specifically written for the engines, but it still ranks high. To find out if you fall into the minority here, just visit a few search engines and type in a phrase you’d like to be ranked high with. then see if your site pops up. When I searched under “virtual assistant,” I found you came up on Google in position number 39.

CATHY: If I want to improve my rankings, is it possible to do it on my own?

KARON: Many times it is. It depends a good deal on how competitive your key phrases are.

CATHY: If I decide to optimize my copy, can you give me some dos or don’ts to follow when writing?

KARON: Sure, Cathy! First and foremost, choose the best keywords for your particular site. Never, ever guess! I love to use http://www.wordtracker.com. They do an excellent job of helping to determine which key phrases are the most effective. Use multi-word phrases. not singular words because that is how most surfers search. In addition, select only about three or four keywords per page. This allows you to focus your copy in one direction in order to better meet the engine’s qualifications.

Next, pay close attention to your headlines. In most Web design programs, you have the option of choosing to make certain text a “headline” instead of just “big text.” Headlines (those that are included within what is referred to as an “H1,” “H2,” etc. tag) are given a little heavier weight with the engines so it is important to include your key phrases within the headline where possible. This applies to subheads, as well as the headline at the beginning of your copy.

You’ll want to also use your key phrases throughout your body copy – keeping your page copy at around 250-400 words in length. You can include them within sentences, as the headline of a table or chart, in the links to other pages, as “ALT” tags for graphics and photos, and within your site title and other META tags.

Lastly, you’ll want to have your copy professionally proofread. Typos can cost you!

CATHY: Wow! It sounds as though you really have to know what you’re doing, Karon. Is it difficult to get the key phrases in all the right places without the copy sounding odd?

KARON: It can be a challenge at times, but it certainly is possible. Just look at all the sites on the search engines that rank high. : )

CATHY: That’s true. If I want to learn more about SEO copywriting, do you know of other resources that can help?

KARON: Oh yes. one excellent ezine about search engine optimization in general is written by SEO expert Jill Whalen of HighRankings.com. Her “High Rankings Advisor” is one of the best. You can find it here: http://www.highrankings.com/advisor.htm. There is also Doug Heil’s SEO forum at this link: http://www.ihelpyouservices.com/forums/. For specifics on copywriting, there’s my ebook, The Step-by-Step Copywriting Course. It takes you through how to write effective copy of all types along with how to write SEO copy. You can find it here: http://www.copywritingcourse.com.

CATHY: Thanks so much, Karon. I really appreciate you letting me in on a few of your secrets. You’ve been a big help.

KARON: Any time, Cathy!

Cathy Kessler is a Certified Professional Virtual Assistant specializing in proofreading, copyediting, and research. Do you have books, ebooks, brochures, websites, articles, newsletters, or other documents that need to be proofread or researched? Visit http://www.kesslerva.com today for additional information, or contact Cathy directly at mailto:cathy@kesslerva.com .