Not everyone can afford to hire an SEO Copywriter. I mean a real web writer — one with natural talent and years of experience.  But all is not lost! I work with lots of clients who rely on me to help them navigate their way through the creative content process. They’ll do the majority of the writing in-house then turn to me to review and make minor changes or recommendations. But before I send them off to write blindly, I prep them with some web writing techniques they can take away and reference while they write.

Here’s a cheat sheet I like to share with my DIY clients.

How to Use Keywords

  • Incorporate relevant keywords in copy
  • Support primary phrases with long tails
  • Use keyword variations
  • Vary anchor text with keywords
  • Emphasize keyword-rich text
  • Priority keywords should be included in title tags,
    meta descriptions, header tags, some anchor text, and should be gently sprinkled throughout web content
  • Keywords should not compromise the quality of your writing, be repeated too many times, be used in unnatural language, and should not be spelled incorrectly

Title Tag

title and description tagsThe Title tag is your first opportunity to convert/get the click!

  • The title is the most important on-page algorithmic ranking factor
  • Titles should be no longer than 60 characters including spaces
  • Place priority keywords up front
  • Include secondary keywords if they fit
  • Finish with a pipe ( | ) then branding at the end
  • If you’re low on space, sacrifice the branding, not the primary keyword

Meta Description

meta description tagThe description is your second opportunity to convert/get the click.

  • Write one or two brief sentences
  • Keep the description under 160 characters including spaces (115 for mobile)
  • Include important keywords (they show up bolded in the SERP)
  • Clearly describe the content on the page
  • Include benefit statements and calls to action to further compel the reader to click

 Meta Keywords

  • No longer relevant for SEO
  • Do not use meta keywords tag
  • Just list keywords on docs for your own reference

Headings & Sub-headings

header tags

  • Headings are a very important on-page algorithmic ranking factor
  • Use only one <h1> tag per page
  • Include priority keyword phrases when possible
  • Include one <h1> tag on every page
  • Use <h2> and <h3> tags for additional page sections
  • Include secondary keyword phrases where it makes sense to do so
  • If in doubt, use the title tag, minus the pipe and branding

Web Page Copy

  • The average web page should contain no less than 150 words of unique content
  • Product description pages are the exception, as they tend to be much shorter
  • Never copy product descriptions from another site
  • Include primary and secondary keyword phrase variations naturally throughout the page
  • Link to other relevant pages on your site
  • Keep content focused around 1 primary keyword phrase and 1-2 secondary keyword phrases

Interlinking Quality

  • Include priority keywords in approximately 50% of anchor text
  • Use a variety of descriptive anchor texts
  • Include links within the main content of each page
  • Point links to deeper, relevant pages
  • Don’t over do it, too many links are distracting to users and lower the overall quality of your page

Blog Writing

  • A blog post can be long form or short, but the average post tends to be about 300-500 words
  • Make sure your writing unique content
  • Never copy or steal content from another site
  • Use keyword phrases naturally without compromising the quality of writing
  • Link to other relevant pages in the blog and/or in the primary site
  • Write an opening paragraph that compels the reader to continue
  • Write a closing paragraph that wraps it all up
  • Look for opportunities to use bullet points and lists
  • Write short, crisp paragraphs
  • Break out content into consumable chunks of info
  • Use headlines to help users scan the page
  • Bold or Ital occasional relevant keywords to draw the user’s eye and snag the engines’ attention

AVOID These Pitfalls

  • DON’T stuff the page with keywords
  • DON’T write for search engines, write for users first
  • DON’T use dozens of links (a few relevant links are good)
  • DON’T be a fluffer! If the 10 words you’ve written can be conveyed in five words, write it in five words.

Read your content aloud. Does it flow nicely or does it sound choppy, repetitive or dull? If it sounds strange out loud, rewrite it.

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Did you find this Web Writing Cheat Sheet helpful? I’d love to know what you think, so please share your comments below!