What you need to know about copywriting in 2017

It’s 2017, and it seems that content is still king. So what exactly do you need to know about copywriting in 2017 to ensure you stand out from the crowd?

Write for people

Back in the day, keyword stuffing used to be the way to ensure your page would rank in Google’s results pages. Fast forward a few years to 2017 and keyword stuffing will result in you receiving a Google Penalty. This is thanks to Google’s 2011 Panda algorithm, which penalised websites which published low-quality content.

So how can you ensure you still rank without receiving a penalty? Make sure you write your content for people, rather than thinking about crawlers. This means your content should be easy to read, and not mentioning the same keyword unnaturally in your sentences. Don’t worry about trying to achieve a certain keyword density – this shouldn’t be a goal in 2017. There is not even one agreed figure for keyword density. Instead, just make sure to use naturally occurring keywords to boost your page.  

Length matters

Trends come and go, and what used to be an acceptable length for a piece of content is no longer the case. 300 words used to be the popular word length. However, that’s really not enough to cover a topic anymore. People want to read something that is more in-depth, not something that just skims the surface of a topic.

As such, the length of copy has become longer. Longer posts will have a better chance of ranking higher in Google. This is because there’s more text, more headings and subheadings, so Google is able to more accurately determine what your content is about. Chances are you’ll also have more images, links and long tail keywords in a longer piece of content. This means you’ll be able to increase the organic traffic coming to the post.

When writing a long piece of content, you’ll have to make sure it’s still high quality. If it’s not interesting and hard to read people will simply leave the page. Make sure your paragraphs aren’t too long, and your text is broken up with headings, images, and dot points. This will make the text more skimmable and easier to read. Depending on your writing skill level and time availability, try and aim for 800 words in blog posts.   

Interactive content

It’s not enough to just write a blog post anymore. Interactive content is what you need to pay attention to in 2017. Videos are continually growing in popularity and are a great way to engage with your audience.

In fact, HubSpot found:

  • Videos on landing pages can increase conversions by 80%
  • 33% of online activity is spent watching videos
  • Including a video in email leads increases click-through rates by 200-300%

If you’re going to consider using video as part of your copywriting strategy, there are a few things to remember:

  • Include a script: sometimes people can’t watch a video, but they’re still interested in the topic. Include a transcript of what was said below the video.
  • Have a call to action: what do you want people to do with the video? Watch another one? Share it? Click a certain link? Make sure this is clearly stated at the end of the video so the viewer knows exactly what they’re supposed to do.
  • Keep it short: your written blog posts need to be long, but your videos don’t need to be. If it’s too lengthy people might get bored and stop watching. Don’t unnecessarily stretch out the video.
  • Address the topic: summarise the topic of the video and make sure you actually talk about what is in your description. Consider answering a question rather than just broadly talking about a topic.

Featured snippets   

A featured snippet is what appears when you type a question into Google and the answer appears in a box above the rest of the search results. This is appearing in ‘position zero’ and is often the ultimate goal to achieve. After all, it means you’re at the very top of the page, above position one.

So how can you end up being the feature snippet? While there are no definite ways to obtain the position, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances. This includes:

  • Ranking pages: you will only end up in the feature snippet if your page is already ranking in the top 10 results, especially number one or two.
  • Answer a question: people are typing in questions they want answered, so make sure you’re asking and answering that question. You’ll want to make sure your page says the question, and if the answer has multiple steps, includes succinct dot points.
  • Format correctly: search engines will need to easily tell what your article is about. If you’re using the correct heading tags you’ll be more likely to end up as a feature snippet.

Just remember that once you get the feature snippet, it’s not guaranteed to stay there forever. Make sure you keep monitoring your snippet and note if it ends up being replaced.

Format correctly    

Not only do you need to avoid keyword stuffing and write long content, you need to make sure it’s also formatted correctly. Doing this will greatly benefit your SEO. So what exactly do you need to make sure you do correctly?

  • Meta descriptions and titles: while this won’t make the biggest impact on your SEO, it is good to make sure you optimise your meta descriptions and titles. This is what people see when your page is displayed in search engines. So you want to make sure your meta description is enticing, and between 140 and 156 characters. You can even include keywords in both your descriptions and titles. Just make sure they’re toward the start of the description so they don’t get cut off.
  • Alt tags: crawlers will search your page for keywords to understand what your page is about. However, they can’t read images. Instead, they read alt tags. This is simply a description of what the photo is. This will also be displayed if there is an error and the image isn’t displaying.
  • Headings: not only do headings break up the text, but they also allow crawlers to understand what the page is about. You just need to ensure you use the correct headings. H1 should be used for your main heading, while other subheadings should use H2, H3, H4 and so on. Just make sure they are in some sort of chronological order.

Follow these tips to ensure your copywriting gains the most attention possible and improves your SEO.

Got any copywriting tips? Let us know in the comments.