Many writers dread the marketing part of being an author, believing they have to be omnipresent on social media, or pay for fancy blog posts or advertising. The truth is that if you learn a few basics about how to write SEO copy, you'll draw readers and show them who you are as a real person and what you offer potential customers.
Mastering a few basics of SEO copywriting can help readers find your amazing content and share your voice with the world without feeling like you have to sell, sell, sell at every turn. Today we have guest writer Linda Walkowich to walk through the basics of SEO and share some SEO copywriting tips. Welcome, Linda!
Many writers spend years getting their books out into the world, only to be met with a new question: how do I help readers find my book?
There are a number of ways to help readers find your work. Some include being a part of the reading community, maintaining an author website (Joe's full guide here) and establishing an email newsletter list. But another way marketers of all stripes draw customers or traffic to websites is through the SEO copywriting process.
Let's take a look at the elements of SEO copywriting and how you might use it to bring readers to your author website.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s one of the most powerful forms of marketing available to writers and authors in the digital age.
In simple terms, SEO refers to practices that help search engines like Google “read” your website’s content in an effort to have your writing rank higher and more consistently for relevant searches. Effective SEO copywriting targets a list of keywords to match relevant content with the search intent of users looking for it.
SEO often gets a reputation for being intimidating or complicated, but many of its practices are surprisingly simple to implement and effective at helping writers promote their work.
Why is SEO Important for Writers and Authors?
SEO is one of the most effective forms of marketing because it matches users (readers) with content (your website). It can help you attract attention to your writing, resulting in more readers, higher credibility, boosted sales, and expansive networking.
There are an estimated 8.5 billion Google searches per day, and that number is climbing. SEO can help you get your writing (also called web copy) in front of people who are searching for the topics that you’re writing about.
You can optimize virtually any type of online writing, including:
- Author websites
- Blog posts
- Book sales pages
- Book release media
- Community websites
- And really any other type of content you can think of!
Ultimately, SEO is a major bridge between the content you’re creating and readers who are interested in your specific area of work.
SEO Best Practices for Beginners
You don’t have to be an SEO expert to improve your content’s searchability right away. Here are six simple ways to get started boosting your writing in the search rankings.
1. Choose search-friendly topics
As a writer, you have hopefully already thought about your audience and what they expect from your genre or the type of story you're writing. What would readers search (meaning what keywords would they use) to find books or content like yours?
Write content that centers around topics or key phrases your target audience is likely researching. It’s a good idea to write about a variety of topics within your niche, ranging from broad, high-level terms to more specific interests.
Incorporate these ideas into digital writing that supports whatever it is you’re looking to promote, whether it be a book, an author, a community, or something else.
Here are a few SEO-friendly web copy templates to spark some inspiration, along with some examples of articles that follow that format right here on the Write Practice:
- How-to guides (See How to Write a Scene)
- Question and answer (Planning a Story: 3 Questions to Answer)
- Problem-solving guide (See the detailed template for this here)
- Listicles (50 Inspiring Quotes)
- Detailed reviews (Top Ten Pieces of Book Writing Software)
If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into SEO training, consider working with a keyword tool to explore actively searched terms in your particular genre. Keyword research tools can reveal the search volumes for certain topics as well as the level of competition or saturation for specific keywords.
2. Write natural, authentic content
Search engines like Google favor high quality content that flows naturally and genuinely helps the end readers. Since you’re a writer, that means you already have an advantage. Don't forget that your primary goal is not just a high content rank in a competitive keyword but to actually deliver value to readers.
If you are an author, here's where your voice and expertise will really shine. Adding a few relevant keywords to a piece of content that already bursts with your unique style can only enhance the number of people who find your work.
You don't have to devote all your writing time to new content creation. Just make sure the writing you DO have on your website is compelling and valuable content for your readers.
3. Use titles that include your keywords and relevant headings
Content structure is a huge component of SEO. Format your web copy using “heading” tags that often follow this flow:
- H1: the title of your web page or article
- H2: the core teaching points within your article
- H3: the sub-topics within each core teaching point
When search engine bots “read” your page, they essentially interpret these headings to understand the architecture of information and help rank the topics with relevant searches.
Plus, structuring your content in an organized, easy-to-follow manner makes it easy for the reader to learn about the topic – which ties back to the ultimate goal behind SEO of connecting readers with research.
If you have a website or blog, check the publishing tools to see if you can add heading formatting to your copy. This ability is usually standard in most content publishing platforms.
4. Avoid SEO writing red flags
Just as there are SEO strategies that can support your web copy, there are also SEO red flags that can hinder your work from ranking. Luckily, they’re fairly straightforward and easy for writers to avoid:
- Don’t copy and paste content from other websites. (Plagiarism is unacceptable anyway.)
- Don’t include lots of links to sites that you don’t trust.
- Don’t practice “keyword stuffing,” or spamming your article with the same key phrase too many times—overdoing keyword density.
None of these techniques will yield the results you're after anyway: finding real readers who will benefit from your writing and work. Always keep your real readers in mind when writing for your website.
5. Practice guest posting
Networking is a writer’s best friend. Collaborating digitally with other writers can help you grow in more ways than one. (You’re already learning that as you practice your skills on this site.)
Guest posting is a mutually beneficial practice in which you write an article for another website that provides genuinely helpful information while also getting your name and your work in front of their audience’s eyes. Plus, you may have the opportunity to link back to your own website or the work you’d like to promote.
How does it help SEO? Search engines like Google look favorably on web content that is supported by other credible websites. Those external links add up over time, showing the search engine (and readers) the connections between writers who might benefit them. The more spotlights pointed at your web copy and topic, the brighter it shines.
6. Promote on social media
If social media feels overwhelming, start with just one platform (and see our guide to social media for authors here).
In general, it’s helpful to have large, authoritative websites promote your writing to boost SEO. That’s why posting links to your work on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can help boost your SEO power. Post about your work on social media including an interesting caption or engaging prompt to encourage more clicks on your content.
Also, most social media sites have search queries so their users can perform research, which means they’re also search engines where your content can potentially rank. If you've ever seen authors or bookstagramers add hashtags to their posts, then you've seen one of the ways they help readers find their unique content.
When someone searches for “romance books” or other search terms on a social media platform, those hashtags or other optimized content can help users find what they are looking for quickly.
How to Find Your Target Keywords and Get Started
If I've convinced you to give SEO optimized content a try, here's an easy way to begin the keyword research process for your first optimized article.
Choose your topic and develop a list of keywords related to it that you can include in your article. Need help? Consider using a keyword tool like Ahrefs Keyword Generator. (Not an affiliate link–just free SEO tools to try!).
Once you have the primary keywords that best fit the search intent of your article, make sure you use the keyword or keyword phrase in your title and at least one of the headers on your page. Additionally, you'll want that keyword to show in your meta description (the description you enter on a post on your website), since search engines pull from that data as well.
If you have a WordPress site, look for the Yoast SEO plugin. It will scan your post and meta description to make sure your content writing and format all support search engines finding your posts.
Your SEO Copywriting Strategy
Hopefully this guide has given you a basic introduction to SEO copywriting. SEO is an essential tool for writers and authors who want to market their work in the digital world and attract excited readers.
The tips in this guide can help you get started right away and give you some knowledge to keep in mind next time you’re publishing your work digitally. You don't have to deep dive digital marketing to begin, just start by looking at the content you've already created and think about the target keywords that might bring interested readers to your posts.
It’s worth noting that there are many factors that comprise a successful SEO strategy, including some more technical components. But if you commit to the strategies outlined above and pay attention to both creating compelling content with the user experience in mind, you may be surprised at the results you can achieve.
What questions do you still have about SEO? Ask them in the comments.
Linda Walkowich combines her passion for writing with today’s digital marketing & communications best practices. As a content strategist of 10+ years, she enjoys creating educational content, actionable campaigns, and high-conversion website copy. Learn more on her website and connect with her on LinkedIn.
Think about what topics and themes your target reader may be researching online—this might be about your genre or area of expertise. Take the next 15 minutes to jot down a list and include potential web copy ideas that could support these topics.
Then, do a little research on what readers are currently finding when they use those keywords. Does the search seem to be finding what the reader is looking for? How could you add more value for your readers?
If you still have a few minutes on your timer, start writing your first article, outlining the headers and sub-headers that would best help your reader.