I am part of an online community for creative entrepreneurs, where members run the gambit from photographers to fashion designers to soap makers to wedding planners. Websites are a big part of all of their marketing efforts and SEO comes up a lot in threads about how to improve traffic or impact.
Because I am a copywriter, I often browse websites when links are posted to get a feel for what might not be working (and what does). More often than not, I can identify (almost immediately) problems that require only a small fix to create the results they’re looking for.
SEO is a funny thing; the algorithms are always changing. That’s why creating quality copy is the only sure-fire way to come out on top in the long-run. And here’s the thing about SEO: it’s all about creating useful information and authority. By considering your web copy in terms of SEO, you aren’t just helping your ranking, but you’re connecting with the audience you want.
And one of the best ways to approach SEO and web copy is to KISS.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
Here is a short KISS checklist of common missing SEO elements that could be holding your website back in more ways that one.
Who are you?
Give me a name! Especially for creatives, if you are your brand, your full name should appear somewhere on the homepage or the About page. So many times, I see entrepreneurs using only their first name. It sounds friendly, but when I get a referral for Jessica Everly and type that into Google, your website isn’t going to come up if your last name isn’t anywhere to be found on your pages.
What do you do/sell?
If you’re a photographer, tell me what you specialize in. If you’re a coach, tell me what kind. If you’re selling clothes or bath salts or organic facial masks, tell me using simple, to-the-point phrases. So many websites try to fluff up their services by using flowery language and this can backfire. If I search for “organic baby food” but your website says you make “food for your most precious treasure– your children– using high-quality fruits and vegetables with no additives or preservatives” then I may never find you. It’s fine to have all that information on the site; you do have to create a voice and tone. But make sure those simple searchable terms are leading your copy.
Where are you located?
You would be shocked at how many websites leave out where the business operates from. If I want a photographer to take my professiomal portraits, I’ll probably be typing my location into the search bar, right? Even if I love your work, it doesn’t do me any good if you’re 1,000 miles away. And even if you are in my area, you’ll never show up if that’s not made clear on the website.
If you work remotely (like me), you might think this one doesn’t have any impact on you. But you’d be wrong. Make sure it’s clear you work remotely so that if someone is looking for remote work, they can find you. And it’s probably not a bad idea to mention your physical location anyway, because even for remote workers, local clients are often the foundation of their client base.
When do I need your services?
Tell me who your audience is. If you work with first-time parents, say so. If you work with women who are entering the political sphere, say so. If you work with real estate agents, say so. And if you don’t work with a particular group, so that too. You’ll often see a section on websites that says something like “Who this is for” and “Who this is NOT for.” There’s a reason for that.
One of the points of a website is to filter out dead leads. By specifying your preferred audience on your website, you not only help your own searchability, but you give people who don’t fit the bill a chance to realize it before contacting you. That means you ultimately have to do less work convincing those who do contact you of your price points or you save time going back and forth for a week before realizing that you can’t help this particular client.
Why should I work with you?
Tell me what makes you stand out. What is it about your services or products that set you apart from the millions of other links I get when I entered my search? Why can I trust you? Here is where you can use a little more of your flowery language to hash out your vision, but don’t forget those simple terms that people might be searching for. Highlight the benefits of doing business with you in an easy-to-understand manner. Don’t make me dig through copy for a reason to trust you with my money.
How do I contact you?
You might be chuckling to yourself saying, “Well, duh.” But I am constantly shocked at how many people don’t include contact information at all or make it hard to find. Make your email address, contact form or phone number easy to find, even if that means putting it on a static banner or sidebar, or writing it on every page on your website. I bring it up a lot on this blog, but the difference between a click away and a click through is literally only seconds, so if I can’t figure out how to get in touch right away, I won’t be getting in touch at all.
If you ever took a journalism class or wrote a book report, you might recognize these questions. They are the 5 W’s + H, and they are the simplest way (on the front-end) to make sure that you’re ranking on appropriate searches as well as an easy way to engage your visitors. Make sure the answers to these questions are obvious, can be found quickly and without much effort. Otherwise, you may be losing out on the traffic you need.
Of course, SEO is a lot more complicated than this, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? Go through your website and see if you can answer these questions using directly quoted copy only. If not, it may be time to make some changes to get in on that SEO thing.
P.S.: Here’s your bonus tip: learn about meta tags right now. Putting some of this information into your site’s meta tags will give you a huge boost in terms of SEO.