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5 Keys to Copywriting for Site Visitors and Search Engines

When it comes to writing your Web site copy, you must balance the needs of your target audience with search engine optimization. Here are the 5 keys to help you succeed with both site visitors and search engines.

1. Comprehension and Attention Span
Assume your site visitors must understand the primary benefit you offer them in 30 seconds or they'll be gone. This most important benefit must be in your headline.

A strong, enticing headline is the single element of your Web copy you cannot live without. Studies show the right headline can increase response to an offer exponentially - and, only one in five people get beyond the headline to read the rest of the text.

2. Format and Layout
Short copy blocks will serve you well, highlighted by bullet points, keyword-rich links, and subheadlines.

Multiple, specific subheadlines create immediate context when a visitor is exploring your site. Make sure they can always see at least one headline on the screen. Like magazine index headlines, they are summaries of what is to come.

3. Write for Your Readers
Readers of Web copy (in English) most often start in the upper right hand corner, drop their eyes toward the bottom of the page, and then ascend to the upper left. The order in which they read is:

          a. Headline
          b. Subheadlines
          c. PS
          d. Price (or order pg)
          e. Actual Text

Which means, all of these elements must be present.

Above all, write to the needs of your audience. Put yourself in their place and ask: "What's in this site for me?" That's what they really want to know, regardless of whether you are marketing or simply delivering information.

The next two elements are to do with writing for the search engines.

4. Keyword-Rich Copy and Theme Indexing
Determine what keywords or keyphrase your entire site is about - a keyphrase people use often on the search engines. To pick heavily searched, popular keyphrases, try WordTracker:

Write your entire site around this keyphrase for powerful 'theme indexing', a process used by search engines to determine an entire site's primary theme.

Theme indexing search engines include Altavista, Google, Excite, Lycos and Webcrawler. Each in their own unique way evaluates your site using your page titles, meta keywords, the description tag, page headlines, general content and links. Which means, your keyphrase must be present in each.

5. Word Placement on the Page
Search engines read from the top of the page down in the HTML code, or roughly from the upper left to the lower right of your visible text. Therefore, it's in your best interest to use a keyword-rich phrase in the upper left corner of your Web page.

Use your primary keyphrase in the first 25 words on your page. Use keyword-rich hyperlinks.

Seek a balance of 3-7% keyword-density. Check this before you submit pages with the free Keyword Density Analyzer: Better yet, check your top competitors for an exact read on what specific search engines are really looking for.

Words power the Web. Following these 5 basic steps will help you use your Web words to maximum advantage.

Article by Web copywriter (and part-time SEO guy) Scott T. Smith of Copywriting.Net. Generate MORE sales with your Web site copy. For a free consultation visit or call 1.800.798.4471 (toll-free in the US).

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