Search Engine Fodder Vs Quality Inbound Marketing Copy [TIPS]

Inbound Marketing CopyWhat’s the fuss over Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)? Online marketing may have been founded upon affiliate marketing, but its heart as it evolved today is SEO.

A big chunk of the Internet marketing industry is composed of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) vying for online sales via effective on-page SEO. Good SEO begets great sales – that’s basically what all the fuss is about. But the demands of both search engine algorithms and the Netizen population entail more than just search engine fodder, but quality Web content.

All Marketing Roads (Should) Lead to Conversion

All online merchants and affiliate marketers aim for conversions, literally converting website visitors or traffic to sales. But for organic (i.e. through natural means, like search engines) traffic to be converted to sales, it needs to be directed to the specific Point of Sale website first. That endeavor is done through Search Engine Marketing (SEM). In turn, SEM is mostly done through off-page SEO, which revolves around link-building, and building authority via other methods.

Obviously, off-page SEO is likewise essential for SMB websites. While on-page SEO does influence SEM and search engine rankings where the competition begins, off-page SEO still holds more weight in that arena. But owing to recent algorithmic changes of top search engines, off-page SEO’s role has been reduced, and the focus shifted from a search engine rank race to a Web content quality race. On-page SEO should always be of high caliber in the first place, but the allure of higher organic traffic through sheer off-page SEO has strayed the importance of quality Web content to the peripherals. When you think about it, off-page SEO may be the beginning of the race, but on-page SEO and the Web content is what drive conversions. So it’s time to forget keyword-stuffed content and focus on quality marketing copy.

The Keyword Hangover

On-page SEO geared towards SEM is all about keywords. The goal is efficiently inserting keywords into articles that would constitute a website’s content. These keywords are the terms used to precipitate a search through search engines. ‘Efficiently’ means using the right keywords, inserting the right number of keywords (keyword density), and spacing them out correctly (keyword distribution) throughout the article. Touching on this concern, the only notable standards that deserve mention is that the ideal keyword density is argued to be somewhere between three to five percent relative to the total word count of the article (though some take it to be more in the one to two percent range), and the ideal keyword distribution stands at one keyword every hundred words, with the main keywords (most likely long-tailed keywords) usually appearing in the first and last 20 words, plus the sub-headings (and the article titles, usually).

The problem is when SMB owners, marketers, and copywriters focus too much on keywords and all but shrug off the caliber of the article. Organic traffic gets to your website expecting to be informed. Only after you provide them with the information they require can any possibility of conversion begin. If the Web content on your site is rubbish peppered with keywords, you’d have gotten tons of organic traffic but no conversions.

How do You Ensure Quality in On-Page SEO?

The first step to ensuring quality in your Web content is forgetting about SEO. Sounds counter-intuitive, but with enough skill you can simply insert, rearrange, or change keywords throughout the finished article. And if the article you intend on writing revolves around your targeted keywords anyway, then there would probably be little to change.

The entire exercise of writing quality Web content is not a mapped and certain road. Different sorts of content would entail different writing standards; different writers have different styles. But there are some practical approaches to writing effective on-page SEO that boosts conversion:

Simplicity – Don’t dumb stuff down, but prefer the simple over the intricate. Your audience demographic spans various ages, cultures, and walks of life. The straightforward approach that everyone can understand is best most of the time.

Convenience – Don’t beat around the bush. Your audience wants something; give it to them immediately. In writing, a good example is to start with the bottom line first, then double back and explain further throughout the body of the article, topping it off with a recap closing paragraph plus a call to action.

Marketing – Quality content is also efficient marketing copy. While the science of marketing-infused writing may not come naturally, the basics are always easy to pull-off: tell your audience what’s in it for them, explain the benefits and not just the features, and always leverage your unique selling proposition.

Shouldn’t On-Page SEO Quality Be Secondary to Increasing Traffic?

The focus here is to write marketing copy, not just search engine fodder. As soon as your organic traffic chooses your website among search results, your inbound marketing effort starts. The most persuasive factor in this endeavor is the content of your website. Besides, if your website content is of exceptional quality, the numbers will follow even with just a little SEM.

Increasing your organic traffic translates to an increase in conversion. But let’s say you have a conversion goal of 100 sales per month. If among 100 monthly visitors, only ten are enticed to purchase your product or service, you’ll need to increase your traffic tenfold to reach your goal. But if to begin with, among your meager monthly traffic of, say, 30 visitors, the average conversion rate is 20, then by the time you reach the 100 visitor traffic threshold (and you will if your conversion rate is that high; word of mouth is still a powerful marketing tool), you’d have made more than 500% conversions compared to the first scenario.

Writing with SEO in mind is all well and good. But in the end, it is the visitors – not the search engines – who buy what you’re selling.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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