How to write for Google and Profit
It is difficult to overstate the importance of your website text. Without quality content, it is almost impossible to rank websites prominently. Companies that spend a lot on SEO but fail to focus on the basics of their website content are often sent us websites to review. Their other foot is on the brake, but they have their foot on the accelerator.
We are also sent many websites that seem to have gone against the “content = ranking” motto. They feature a wall of text with borderline invisible font sizes, and explain the same thing 15 different ways, using every keyword possible. Visitors land on the site, vomit their screens, and then run to other sites that can explain it more clearly and effectively.
This section will show you how to make your website’s content worthy of dominating your market without making your website a lengthy essay.
What makes good content?
What is good content? We don’t need to guess. Google has provided very clear guidelines on what it considers ‘good’.
High-quality websites are those that have “satisfying amounts of high-quality main contents”. This does not mean that you should use the same copy in thirty different ways. According to Google’s quality guidelines, “creating high-quality MC requires a substantial amount of time, effort and expertise as well as talent/skill.” MC is the main content or the main body of a webpage.
This means that every page of your website must be authoritative and detailed about the topic it covers. Let’s take this example:
A solicitors firm provides a variety of family law services including divorce, wills, and probate. Their website has one “services” page. This lists all the services they offer, and includes a few lines of text about each. Although this is a common practice, it is not optimal for websites that rank high in search engines for competitive terms. Each service (divorce/wills/probate) requires its own page with a lot of text (we recommend at least 300 words) explaining what each service is, how it works, and what the visitor should do next.
This may sound like hard work, but who can write 300 words about a divorcing law service? This is an approach you can use to communicate authoritatively on any topic. We’ll use the example of the solicitor.
Step 1: Describe the product in detail. What does a divorcing solicitor do?
Step 2: Describe the process or how it works for your clients.
Step 3: Answer top questions people have about the product/service. How long does it take to get a divorce?
Step 4: Talk about why you are chosen by your customers or clients over your competitors.
Step 5: Address the most common objections potential customers or clients might have regarding purchasing. Is it possible to divorce my spouse by contacting a family attorney?
Step 6: Describe what the next step should be for someone who wants to purchase from you.
These simple questions show that writing 300 words about your products and services can be quite easy. We’re not going to write boring or irrelevant crap here. We are actually creating content that people want to read, which will increase their likelihood of purchasing the product.
It’s a good idea for website writers to use the same language as your customers when writing. If your customers search for spades, call it a spade. Or an earth displacement device if they prefer that name. You should include all the phrases that your customers search for in your text copy if they are searching for multiple phrases. Imagine that you were your best salesperson writing the text for your website. They would be warm, friendly, knowledgeable, and very clear about the next steps.
It is crucial to use your target keywords and keep an SEO perspective in all you write. It is crucial to use keywords in your text, even though some SEOs claim that it is enough to “write naturally”.
Let’s take a look at the steps involved in creating a website page.
When you are preparing to write a page, the first thing to do is identify the keywords or phrases that it is intended to represent. As our Ninja Clothing Store, the Clothing – Balaclavas page will have the text written with “Ninja Balaclava”, as the primary keyword. This is the keyword we’d choose to rank this page at the top of Google.
Your main keyword should be used in the header at the top of your page. In HTML, you can put your keyword in the
Tags at the top (or set it to ‘Heading 1 if you use a visual editor that is user-friendly) This is a clear indication to Google that the phrase is important to this page. Google will only allow you to use one H1 heading per page. Therefore, the fact that we are using the phrase “Ninja Balaclavas”, is a signal to Google that you believe this phrase is relevant to the page’s content.
You can use a variation of your keyword phrase or keyword in an article if you feel you can without sounding spammy.
under the main title, ‘Heading 2’.
Take, for example:
Shop for Ninja headgear at the UK’s Ninja Balclava Specialists
As you can see, we have used the term ‘Ninja three times (frequently but not overused), the word “balaclava” twice and the word “headgear” once. Google and its visitors know that this site is commercially owned, so the use of the word “buy” tells them.
This combination of subheadings and headings is a great way to get your page off to a good start. It’s also a formula you can use on every page.
Remember to mention your local business in every page of your website. To increase the local connection, mention multiple locations on your product pages or category pages. Then link to the targeted area pages we mentioned above.
Sites that struggle to rank well make the common error of not being sufficiently specific in their page headings.
An example of this is an accounting practice that will include “VAT” at the top its VAT accounting page. This heading isn’t very useful as it doesn’t relate to VAT. It’s all about VAT accounting.
A website’s service and product pages often rank higher than the homepage if it is optimized well. These pages are not familiar to visitors who haven’t seen your homepage. They don’t know anything about you or what you do. Every page of your website must be able to function as a landing page. This will introduce visitors to you and set the scene.
Spelling and Grammar
The best machine-learning, search ranking algorithm is the one that analyzes your website and looks for signs of good or poor quality. Are spelling and grammar important? That’s all I have to say. Grammarly (https://www.grammarly.com/), if you are like me and have a tendency of mispelling words or typing faster than your brain works, is a great app. It checks spelling and grammar on everything you write, making it instantly clearer to others.
Writing style is another important aspect to remember. In February 2017, Gary Illyes, Google, posted the following tweet:
He implies that search algorithms favor natural writing styles, which is nearly the exact opposite of what most people write for SEO. The topic of readability has been controversial for a long time. What sites rank higher? Sites that have shorter, easier-to-read sentences or those with more complicated sentences? I would advise you to write at the level of your audience and simplify if necessary.
Google analyzes reading level. This was because searchers were able to filter search results by reading level until 2015. Although it has since removed this feature, it is unlikely that Google dropped the underlying analysis or categorisation. If your audience values simple writing in plain English, great! Cool.
If you are a tech-savvy person and need to ensure that your writing is still accessible to a broad audience, the Hemingway app (http://www.hemingwayapp.com//) will help. Google’s algorithms are built to replicate human behavior and preferences, and they get better every day.
Sometimes it can be tempting just to copy text from one page to another. If you have many geographical areas you serve, and want to write about the same products and services in each one, you might find it tempting to just copy the text and replace the name with the area. It’s done!
Websites that heavily rely on duplicate content are less likely to rank well. This is logical, if you consider that many of the best websites in the world are likely to have large amounts of text copied from other websites or pages.
Duplicate content has become a kind of SEO black plague. Website owners are often so afraid of accidentally including duplicate content on websites that they resort to all sorts of crazy gyrations.
Duplicate content is almost inevitable. Your website’s footer text, the product descriptions that appear in your eCommerce store for multiple product categories, etc. Google has more important things to do than just to remove your website from search results for these types offences.
But, duplicate content is not necessarily bad or desirable. Gary Illyes and John Mueller from Google both confirmed that Google does not actively penalize sites for duplicate content. However, Google will recognize that pages are copied content and favor the source.
This type of duplication can be very problematic in one case: eCommerce. These same product descriptions may be used on dozens, hundreds or even thousands of websites by the same manufacturer if you have a store. Google may see thousands of websites with the same description. Many of these sites are more authoritative and older than you, so what chance do they have of ranking you higher?
We recommend that you write unique product descriptions in such cases. This is not an easy task. It’s worth it if you want to rank these pages. This is a great opportunity to give your opinion on the products, perhaps as an expert in your market. This will allow you to provide more value than other sites and result in a higher ranking.
There’s an easy tool to check if your website text is duplicated. Copyscape can be used to show you the URLs of websites, pages or blocks of text. It will also display the percentage of each page that uses the same text.
A Site Can Be Penalized for Duplicate Content
A website could be penalized and removed from search results for duplicate content. Google’s webspam team might manually identify that your website contains a lot of content from other websites. They may decide that it is not necessary for Google to spend its time crawling and indexing the site. This is a rare situation and will result in a manual penalty. It will appear in Google Search Console.
We briefly touched on headings, but I want to spend more time here because they are so important if you want your website to rank well. Your website’s headings are the titles you use on its pages. These headings are identified in the HTML tags of your page code.
For Heading 2 and so forth. These heading tags should be used in the following manner:
Status is assigned to the page’s main heading. It should be one!
This is used to create each section of the main content on the page.
This is used to create sub-sections and sections of secondary significance.
The H1, H2, and H3 headings will be set in your page’s code. This dropdown will appear if you are using WordPress or another content management system.
If you are using HTML, your headings will need to be coded like this:
Let’s take a look at the different headings used by high-ranking websites:
This information page ranks high on Google UK’s search results for the highly-commercialized phrase “best standard lamps”. This is essentially a blog post that contains the writer’s choice of standing lamps. It also includes text and a link to the manufacturer’s product page. Bizarrely, this site has not chosen to use affiliate hyperlinks here. It could also be generating income via the recommendations, but that’s another matter.
The page’s headline uses an H1 heading. It is concise and contains the article’s target keyword (“best flooring lamps”). H2 headings are used for the sections, which include the products.
You will also notice that the copy describes each lamp as well as why someone might choose a standard lamp. Although it’s not very useful, and you probably already know why you need a standard lamp, it is necessary to describe each lamp so this article can be ranked.
The next example is an eCommerce page that ranks standard lamps.
It follows a similar pattern. There is an H1 heading at top, with the target keyword and H2s for each main section of content. In this instance, it’s the products. The category page also has a block with body copy, which uses an H3 heading. The body copy serves two purposes: to show the topic and justify the page’s ranking. This page wouldn’t have been able to achieve the top ranking that it does.
We can see the importance of using heading tags by simply looking at sites that rank well for highly competitive phrases. Get out there!
Content for eCommerce (or other large websites)
You might wonder if each product on your eCommerce site requires you to write copy. You don’t have to write copy for every product on your site. Only the ones you want to rank and sell.
Manufacturers and distributors don’t usually provide product descriptions that are useful here. They may also be used elsewhere on the internet, which, as we have seen, is likely to cause Google to ignore such duplicate content.
Google cannot rank you higher than other websites that have the same products if your website isn’t unique. This is especially true for dropship or affiliate sites that are’ready-made’. They are often churned with duplicates, which makes them extremely unlikely to rank in the current state.
Writing quality content takes a lot of effort. This is why it is important to prioritise. This is how we approach it for clients and how I recommend you do it for yourself. Prioritise product categories that are profitable or most popular. Or that you have an advantage in selling, such as if you have a greater range than your competitors.
One of our clients sells protein supplements. There are many protein powders available online from the top brands, with each product listing. The market is so saturated and priced-driven, it would be difficult to rank these products. This client did not have the time or money. We decided to concentrate on a limited range of protein powders that were targeted at crossfit enthusiasts. We focused our efforts on the market that would appeal most to crossfitters (all-natural supplements, nothing artificial), and identified the products that were most likely to be popular.
This page will rank higher for crossfit-related keywords than pages that try to distribute it across all their supplements. Crossfitters will also be more likely convert to these pages if they are more focused on them. Because the audience perceives these products as a stronger match, the margin can be higher and the website will become more profitable. This allows you to take a website that is competing for highly competitive phrases with little margin and make it part a smaller group of websites that target a more profitable, less competitive, price-driven market.