The starter guide to UX copywriting and search engine optimization (SEO)

Writing for search engine optimization is guided by this principle:

"Every webpage should try to be the authority on one single question or topic."

Every page you write with SEO in mind should strive to be the authority on one thing, and one thing only.

Now, we know what you are thinking: Only one thing? That sounds dumb. Why?

Good question and the answer lies in the simplicity of search engine technology. At its core, a search engine is just a big index that stores, sorts and displays web pages when commanded by a user.

The search engine "collects" these web pages using "crawlers," that go from webpage to webpage, storing and cataloging as they go.

Google calls their crawler "Googlebot." Cute, huh?

Once a web page is in a search engine's index, a user can retrieve that page by using search commands or "keywords."

Enter a keyword into the search engine, it'll give you a webpage about that keyword. That "keyword" is your "one thing" that your copy should be devoted to—contextually speaking.

It can be as broad a topic as "The history of cars" or as laser-focused as "how to change the oil on a 1996 Toyota Tacoma." As long as it covers that one topic in detail, and it satisfies a searchers need for information, then you're on the right track.

There are thousands of blogs about why and how the search engines keep on a' running. For the sake of this guide, we're going to focus on how to write so we don't gum up the gears.

Keywords

Keywords are user questions, nothing more. A user asks a question of the search engine in the form of a query, and the search engine's algorithm gives the users the smartest answer it can muster—in the form of a webpage.

These questions come in three types:

1. Informational: a user wants to "know" something about a thing. This is usually a user who is in the high-funnel "research" phase of the buying process. They're just asking questions and kicking the tires. Good folks.

2. Navigational: A user is curious to know where to find something. That "something" may be a Jeep dealership. It may also be the address of a delicious Thai restaurant, or the location of the nearest Bob's Big Boy... food dominates this category of search. People are hungry.

3. Transactional: This is a category of search that usually means a user is ready to buy a thing. They've kicked the tires, they've found the local dealers and now they want to get down to brass tax—usually meaning they're ready to do business.

Headings

Header tags: h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6, go numerically from most important to least important—as far as the search engine cares.

The h1 tag is what you would use as the main title of your page. H1s are usually at the top of the page and are most often, but not always, a bigger font size than other text on the page.

It's because of this prominence and importance that the search engine tends to weigh the h1 tag more heavily than other content on the page.

Be sure to have the keyword you want the page to rank for inside the h1 heading, otherwise, you're diminishing that page's SEO potential.

A note on style: Don't get caught up with the idea of optimal keyword density or keyword usage on the page. Be natural, use your keywords contextually and write as you talk. The search engines, and most importantly the user, will appreciate that.

Also, never stuff a page with keywords. The search engines no longer reward such behavior, and it makes for bad user experience.

Try to write about your topic in a natural way, free-flowing way and you're golden.

Related content

How to Write Meta Descriptions for SEO

How to Write Title Tags for SEO