One of the many misconceptions about SEO I hear often is that it’s impossible to be authentic and creative in your SEO copy.
Let me tell you this could not be further from the truth.
In fact, I’ll even go as far to say that SEO can help you hone your creative skills.
Perhaps you’ve been in a situation where you’re writing copy about a certain topic but you think your ideal client is Googling search terms that are completely different?
Or you need to target negative keywords in your copy because you know that’s what people are actually searching for but you don’t want your copy to sound negative.
Or you want to steer the language of your copy towards a certain direction that aligns with your brand but your keyword research tells you that people, are in fact, searching for something else?
How do you get around those sticky situations?
If you consider yourself a creative and you love to write openly and ‘from the heart’, but you have a belief that SEO limits your creativity, then you’re going to love what I’m about to show you.
One of my previous clients is a lifestyle concierge company.
They really wanted to steer their copy towards the lifestyle management / lifestyle concierge market. But after carrying out some keyword research, it was clear that people are searching for personal concierge far more than they are lifestyle concierge.
The problem was that lifestyle concierge and personal concierge are two different things and each have two separate audiences with different motivations and characteristics. My client really wanted to steer away from personal concierge. They do offer some personal concierge services but the business wants to focus much more on the lifestyle concierge market.
I was hired to carry out keyword research, create the meta tags and sprinkle these keywords into their existing copy.
So how did I do it?
Align your brand with your business objectives and target audience
First, if the business wants to focus on lifestyle concierge then so be it. There’s no point targeting keywords just because they have a high number of monthly searches. If the keywords aren’t relevant to the business, it’s time to move on. Relevancy matters over anything else.
But I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water either. I wasn’t convinced that I should ignore personal concierge altogether because I believed it was still a relevant search term to optimize for but on a smaller scale. I also believed that people Googling personal concierge would also be interested in lifestyle concierge – if you educate them. People don’t know what they don’t know and as business owners it’s our job to inform and educate our readers. So I created meta tags that linked both.
For example I created the following page title and description tag for their lifestyle 101 page:
Lifestyle & Personal Concierge services at XXX Lifestyle Management
Trying to be super woman (or man)? Not working? It’s OK to ask for help. Get more time & space in your life with our bespoke lifestyle management services.
Noticed how I optimized the page title for lifestyle and personal concierge.
The good news was that lifestyle management is quite a popular keyword so I took the opportunity to use it in the description tag too. Without giving away the client’s name, lifestyle management is part of their business name so it was naturally used in the page title.
I didn’t mention personal concierge anywhere in the description tag because I was focused on creating a summary that speaks directly to their ideal client. In this particular case, their clients are usually trying to be super woman or man but end up struggling. They’re also desperate for more time.
Let me tell you coming up with this description tag required me to put on my creative hat, albeit how short it is. And I had fun doing it.
This is only my opinion but I also wasn’t convinced that people typing personal concierge and lifestyle concierge into Google are clear on what it is they’re looking for or why. So I wanted to link the two concepts together. If someone types in personal concierge but they’re really looking for more time, then it’s really lifestyle concierge and management they’re after. If they land on this page and find what they’re looking for, meaning this page answers their questions and provides them with a suitable solution, then this is still a really relevant page for them even though they have typed personal concierge into Google to find it.
Was my strategy correct or did I lead my client up the garden path?
The truth is it’s still too early to tell. The only way to get concrete results is to check your analytics and let the data tell us what’s working and what isn’t and then adjust accordingly.
Predict then measure.
I don’t like implementing things based on opinion alone but there are no guarantees when it comes to SEO. When we’re doing something new or unknown, we need to let our experience, judgment and keyword research guide our decisions. The only way to get the facts is to ‘put it out there’, and then see how people react and respond. Predict then measure.
How to use negative keywords without depressing your readers
Now what if you had to target negative keywords but you don’t want your copy to sound negative to your ideal client?
For example, you might have a product or service that is focused on solving a specific problem or a number of problems but you want your audience to have a really pleasant experience when they read your copy. You want them to be in a good place. You don’t want to depress them – you want to excite them and give them hope.
So how you can write pleasant copy and optimize for negative keywords at the same time?
Put on your creative hat gals and guys. I want to challenge any beliefs you may have that you can’t write creatively and get the best out of SEO.
World-class SEO copywriter Glenn Murray received an email from a psychologist who’s publishing a book about how to change your brain, and be happy. It’s titled i-brainmap, freeing your brain for happiness. She believes people are typing in search phrases related to the problem such as anxiety, trauma, how to be happy – NOT how to free your brain for happiness, which is what her book is about.
Her fear was if she used those type of keywords that it would make her copy sound negative and that wasn’t the outcome she wanted.
So she asked Glenn for some advice.
I’ll let you read Glenn’s post in full to find out how he would optimize negative keywords in a positive light. His advice is salient.
Any time you write a blog post or web content, write as if the search engines don’t exist.
If you’ve been following me for some time and as my clients are well aware, I always advocate to ignore the search engines altogether when you write any piece of online content.
Not only that, write your copy focused on the positive outcomes your reader will get. For example, if a health coach was writing a blog post about 11 different ways to stay active, she can do so as if she was talking to her client or patient one-to-one.
Next, look at your keywords. For example, “how to stay active,” “how to be healthy,” “good foods to eat”, “extreme fatigue,” “why do I feel tired,” “depression anxiety,” etc.
Pop over to the Google keyword planner tool (GKT) to find even more keywords both positive or negative. For example, if you type in “how to stay active” into the GKT, you’ll also find:
- Keep on moving -5,400 monthly searches
- Nutrition tips – 2,400
- Healthy eating facts – 2,400
- Good foods to eat – 1,600
- How to stay active in the winter – 90
- Benefits of staying active – 70
If you type in a negative keyword such as lethargic, the GKT also comes up with:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome – 90,500
- Why am I always tired – 33,100
- Excessive tiredness – 2,900
- Always feel tired – 720
- Leg fatigue – 720
- Tired and achy – 260
If you’re a health coach, you could choose to use any of the above keywords in your web copy or blog post.
One thing is clear – there are many people searching for the ‘positive’ outcome as well as the negative. That means you can easily write your copy in a positive frame without focusing on the negative keywords too much.
But this post is about teaching you to how to do both. So let’s say you decide to optimize your copy for the phrase ‘good foods to eat.’ If you’d already written the copy without even thinking about the search engines, then this could be really simple for you. I bet there would be very little, if any, optimization needed after you’ve written it. Just a few tweaks here and there.
This is how I would write it:
“When I was trying to lose weight, I struggled with eating well. I would eat well for a few days but in no time, old habits would sneak back in. You name it, I binged on it. Chocolate, fizzy drinks, potato chips, hot chips… the list was endless. I didn’t know what good foods to eat. I mean, one person says you can’t even eat fruit while another says to stay away from carbs. I was confused. I wish I knew someone back then that would help me get back on track and show me the way. You know, like having a wingman. That’s why I created the Right Eating Guide – a guide to help you lose weight once and for all, shift those last few pounds and provide you with a comprehensive list of good foods to eat without second guessing ever again….”
With a little creativity and story telling, you can easily target a focus keyword without making it obvious to your readers.
But what about the negative keywords?
I’m going to refer directly to Glenn’s advice here.
The best way to include negative keywords is to say what your book/product/service is NOT about. For example, you could say something like, “this guide isn’t about depriving yourself of carbs or wheat and nor is it about overcoming emotional eating disorders. It’s about giving you strategies for long term weight loss without the gimmicks and fads….”
Or, “I won’t be teaching you how to overcome compulsive overeating and binge eating. I’ll be teaching you what good foods to eat on a regular basis and how to eat well in everyday life.”
Don’t forget to use your sub-headings (H tags)
Headings are great for SEO. You should be using sub-headings anyway because it helps to break up the text and makes your copy easier to read.
For example, “What are the good foods to eat on a daily basis?” Or “Good foods to eat when you’re sick and feel lethargic.”
As Glenn explains in his post, when you’re forced to come up with creative ways to include your keywords, you tend to come up with more creative or unusual headlines, which helps to grab your reader’s attention.
What about you?
Do you find it easy to be creative when you’re writing copy? Is it something that comes natural to you or not?
What about using specific keywords in your copy or blog posts? Is that something you do or avoid? 😉
Please let me know in the comments below.