Copywriting: Key to Search Engine Visibility and Conversions
by Paul J. Bruemmer


High rankings in search engines can bring you lots of targeted 
traffic, but will you be ready to convert those leads when they 
get there? Only if you use skillful, strategic copywriting 
combined with search engine optimization techniques when 
designing your Web pages. 

Hooking Visitors 

The home page is your most important page because that's where 
most visitors start. The purpose of your home page is to get 
your visitors' attention by allowing them to find essential 
information quickly and easily. This means benefit-rich text 
that can solve problems - copy written from the visitor's 
viewpoint rather than your own.

Visitors are usually looking for information with short 
attention spans. They're thinking "What's in it for me?" and 
aren't interested in sales copy or company profiles. They may 
want to know more about the company later, but the first order 
of business is to find information that answers their query. 

To design a good home page, focus on the key benefits of your 
products and services. Every time you get into the details or 
features, make it a hyperlink to a new page around that topic. 
For instance, a search engine marketing firm might list the 
benefit below on its home page.

"If you need higher rankings in the major search engines, we 
specialize in search engine optimization and copywriting 
techniques that result in better positioning and increased 
conversions for your business. Click here 
(http://www.web-ignite.com/resume/index.html) to learn more 
about how we can help you improve visibility and profits." 

The "click here" statement should be a hyperlink taking your 
visitor to an inner page focused on describing your products 
and services in more detail. From there, and also from your home 
page, they should be able to click to an "order" or "e-quote" 
page. You can conveniently offer a link back to the home page, 
as good Web site navigation is essential for keeping visitors on 
your site.

Researching Keywords

Before any copywriting or search engine optimization tasks can 
begin, it's necessary to conduct thorough keyword research to 
identify the strategic keyword phrases that lead to better 
positioning and visitor conversions.

Your keyword phrases are used both in visible Web copy (headers 
and body text) and non-visible HTML code (title tag, meta 
description tag). It is the selection of the right keyword 
phrases, coupled with skillful copywriting in using these terms, 
that makes your site relevant for both search engines and 
visitors, so choose your words carefully. 

 Brainstorm to create a list of keywords describing your 
offerings. Identify search terms that potential customers might 
use in a search query to find you. Get feedback from multiple 
sources (customers, suppliers, brand managers, sales people, 
etc.). Check your Web logs for clues. 

 Enter these keywords into a keyword suggestion tool like 
WordTracker. (http://www.wordtracker.com/trial/index.php3)
This Web-based tool provides ideas for expanding your keywords 
by identifying popular keywords within a keyword database. It 
reveals the number of users searching for specific keywords on 
major search engines within the last 24 hours, indicating how 
popular these keywords are with competitors. 

 Select search terms that aren't overused but remain fairly 
popular. Look for uncommon combinations. Expand your list to 
include plurals and misspellings. 

 Select several of your most relevant terms (high WordTracker 
scores) for use on each Web page as appropriate. You can use the 
same terms on different pages if they match the copy on the page. 

Copywriting for Conversions

To write copy from a customer viewpoint, use your search terms 
strategically to emphasize benefits. You'll also want to use 
teaser copy and hyperlinks for easy readability. This keeps your 
copy short so visitors remain focused, yet longer copy is just a 
click away. 

Use several strategic keyword phrases to write the copy for each 
page. Search engines work with text, not graphics, so ensure that 
your home page includes at least 200 to 250 words. Repeat your 
keyword phrases at least three times, possibly more if copy is 
longer. Use keywords in headlines and sub-heads. If it helps 
readability, bold a few keywords to stand out. Create a new page 
for each topic.

Ensure that the content on every page includes strategic 
keywords accurately describing your offerings. Keywords in meta 
tags should match content on the page. If you use graphics, place 
keywords in your alt tags to accurately describe your images.

Quick Check List

 Brainstorm your benefits, then prioritize and present benefits 
  in terms of problem solving.
 Brainstorm for features, but use mainly to support benefits on 
  inner pages.
 Grab attention with a compelling headline emphasizing benefits. 
 Use power words and active voice (See "Words That Sell" by 
  Richard Bayan).
 Differentiate yourself from competitors.
 Use testimonials.
 Establish credibility (awards, customer list).
 Close with call-to-action, ask for the business, be precise 
  with desired action.
 Ensure your order form is flawless.
 Offer something of value to spur a response (optional).
 Use "About Us" section for company description and 
  accomplishments.
 Use "Contact Us" for accessibility and customer service.

Optimizing for Better Positioning

Once your visible copy is written, it's easy to create the meta 
tags that help boost search engine rankings. The most important 
tags are the Title Tag and Meta Description Tag. Others are 
optional.

Title Tag - Write an HTML title tag for each page. This should 
be the first tag on the page in the Head section. Use compelling 
words to draw visitors to your site. Use questions if possible. 
Start with important keywords first. Begin with a capital letter 
and use sentence case for readability. Good title tags read like 
a one-line ad that solves a problem and shows urgency. Don't use 
your keyword phrase more than once in a title tag.

Meta Description Tag - This HTML tag is important because it's 
often used by search engines as your site description in search 
results. It's also used by search spiders to summarize Web sites 
when indexing. Make your description compelling and relevant to 
attract potential customers. Copy should contain several 
strategic keywords from the page. Place essential copy in the 
first 150 characters as copy is sometimes limited (150-400 
characters).

Meta Keywords Tag - Most search engines have stopped supporting 
the meta keywords tag but Inktomi and Teoma still use it, so it 
can't hurt if you have the time. This tag should contain your 
most important keywords for each page, up to 1,000 characters 
including spaces. Place your most important keywords first, with 
or without commas. 

Alt or Image Tag - The alternative text attribute tag requires 
text to be placed in the tag within quotation marks. Some search 
engines index alt tags, so it never hurts to describe your 
images with a keyword message. 

Beyond Copywriting

Good navigation links to inner pages allow the engines to index 
deep into your site. Quality, incoming links to your site will 
boost link popularity. 

Once you've focused on the above, the crawler search engines 
will find and rank your site. You can submit manually from the 
"add URL" link, or invest in paid inclusion for faster indexing 
and more frequent refresh. At the same time, customers searching 
your keywords will find what they're looking for, making 
favorable decisions due to smart copy.

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Paul J. Bruemmer mailto:paul2@web-ignite.com is the CEO of Web 
Ignite, http://www.web-ignite.com/ a search engine marketing 
company founded in 1995. Web-Ignite earned a top grade in the 
Buyers' Guide to Search Engine Optimization Firms and has helped 
promote over 15,000 Web sites. Client testimonials report 
traffic increases of 150 to 500 percent. Bruemmer's articles 
have appeared on ClickZ and other publications.
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