This post is part of the Ask an SEO copywriter series.

We have recently discussed SEO keywords, and if you are a regular of our blog, you probably have already seen our Website Copywriting Dissected series where we talked about writing better website copy.

In the  post about writing body copy I mentioned a fantastic article on SEOmoz that practically defines everything we’ll discuss here today. It is still valid even though it was published in 2009. Go read Perfecting Keyword Targeting & On-Page Optimization.

After Google’s Panda update, I think it’s pretty clear that poorly written, keyword-stuffed pages are useless at best. I have always advocated writing pages that are valuable to your target audience. Valuable content always wins, no matter what your Google search result ‘placement’ is.

Where to put your keywords

Basically, you need to simply use good copywriting techniques. Think about your customer. What do they want to know?

Write content for your audience first.

If you’re the analytical type, then here are some best practices:

  1. Your primary keywords should be in your H1 page heading / headline / title; preferably, as the first few words.
  2. Repeat your primary keywords in the first paragraph of your page, preferably in the first 2 sentences. You will probably do this naturally anyway, as you are introducing the topic, but there it is.
  3. Put your primary keyword phrase in your HTML title tag and description
  4. Make sure you use your keywords and phrases for the topic throughout your page; a couple times for short pages, several times in a longer page, but never more than makes sense (to a living person)
  5. Don’t forget to use your primary keywords in image ALT tags as long as they actually describe the image (in other words, choose an image that fits the topic)

Go back to that SEOmoz post and look at the graphic of the ‘ultimate page’ and then read the details. These guys know what they’re talking about.

The best advice I can give you

Your customers must always come first. Do what is right for the reader, not an ever-changing algorithm.

When I’m writing a page, I follow this process:

  • Composition: Starting with my topic and an outline, I write the whole page in one go. I try to write as if I’m speaking to someone sitting across the room.
  • Revision: I go back and revise my writing, making it more clear and concise. As I do this, I start checking that I’m using the same or similar keywords and phrases.
  • Optimisation: This last pass allows me to think about the SEO of the page. I make sure that I have put the keywords I want to target in the best places and moving them around as needed. I will also write the HTML meta tags now (title and description)

#1 tip for SEO: Write for people first and you can’t go wrong.

Next in the SEO copywriter series: How do I write image ALT tags?

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