Copywriting,  SEO

Keywords and Copy

As the Vice President of the Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce (how do you like that credibility bomb right out of the gate?), I go to a lot of networking events. Mixers, breakfasts, power hours, you name it.

At many of the events, there’s a person who has a canned sales pitch ready to go. Their elevator speech, if you will. It’s so obviously a sales pitch intended for anyone who will listen and not something meant for me that I tune it out completely. Do I feel bad? Sure. But I know the person isn’t trying to form a connection with me. They’re going straight for the jugular wallet.

Keyword dense copy sounds similar, except instead of trying to pitch anyone who will listen, you’re trying to pitch Google. Instead of trying to form a connection with your reader, you’re trying to form a connection with a machine. It’s lifeless, boring, and breaks every rule in the many copywriting rule books.

Bad SEO

In the past, SEOs obsessed over keywords. It wasn’t about the connection in the copy. It was all about gaming Google to get found.

That’s not the case today.

Today’s keywords are only one ingredient in a very complex recipe. You must sprinkle them in slowly or all your copywriting efforts will go to waste. Your audience will hate you because you’re obviously writing for Google instead of them. Google won’t love you either. The algorithm is incredibly savvy now.  It can spot keyword stuffing from miles away.

Add too many keywords, or put a relentless focus on your keywords, and Google will know you’re trying to scam the system. They’re good at finding scammers.

Too few keywords and Google won’t know what the heck you’re writing about. How can the search engine rank you if you haven’t told it enough about the subject matter at hand?

Add into the mix your personality, your connection with your reader, and an overall compelling sales pitch that actually gets people excited, and you’re faced with a daunting task.

Keyword Rich Copy

It’s one of the hardest things to write.

The original copywriters never had to worry about this. They sent postcards, instead of having to balance algorithms and avatars. Their focus was on the writing instead of all the other junk behind it.

Life as a copywriter was simpler back then. There was only one goal – get people to buy whatever you were selling.

If you ask me, it should still be that simple.

Keywords have tainted the way we write. You craft the perfect message and then have to rework everything to fit in a keyword of choice. It weakens the prose. It steals from what the reader wants to hear. It’s confusing.

Luckily, Google has caught on to the trend of stuffing keywords and has continued to punish websites trying to play the SEO game. THANK YOU GOOGLE!

Today, copywriters must find a gentle, yet sophisticated balance to get a website ranked and have it perform well.

Sprinkling in Keywords the Right Way

To sprinkle in keywords the right way, forget about them.

Write. Focus on the message you want your reader to walk away with when she looks at your page. Don’t focus on anything else.

Then, start your keyword research. Find the terms your audience uses to look for your product. Take those keywords and use them as a guide for how your audience speaks. 

When you have your keywords in hand, go back and see if there are a few phrases you can alter ever so slightly to speak your audience’s language in their words. You’re not focusing on adding a keyword for the sake of adding a keyword. You’re focusing on sounding natural, conversational, and speaking in a way your audience will resonate with.

See the difference?

Instead of finding ways to incorporate phrases, you’re finding ways to speak your buyer’s language. It’s a night and day difference.

One way, you’re speaking for the search engine. The other, you’re speaking for your buyer.

At the end of it all, go back and read what you wrote. Read it out loud. Read it to a friend. Does it sound natural or robotic? Exciting or pushy? Intriguing or a keyword dense snoozefest?

As you pull the final pieces together, keep one focus – writing for the person on the other side of the screen whom you can help…

… because without doing that, you’re just writing to a machine, which is a little embarrassing when you think about it.

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