We’ve seen that the real secret to SEO Copywriting 2.0 is creating compelling content that naturally attracts links, rather than begging for links to our keyword-stuffed “optimized” web page. In other words, SEO copywriting is now all about response-oriented copy—concepts and words that ultimately result in a favorable action from the reader.
Since the popularity of our content depends on the reaction to it off-page, it makes sense that we might also need to step outside the confines of the page itself to get the word out. Luckily, the same copywriting skills you use to conceive and create your content apply to promoting it as well.
The way to create compelling content is to focus on “what’s in it for the reader.” Likewise, no one is going to link to you unless doing so gives them a benefit as well.
The key is the same—understand who you’re talking to and then figure out what will catch their attention and convince them to take action. Here are 5 ways to go about it.
1. Social Media Sites
The quickest way for an exceptional piece of content to get a lot of attention that results in secondary links is to make the home page of Digg or Delicious Popular. There are scores of similar sites that can drive quality traffic as well, such as Reddit, TechMeme, and Magnolia. For more offbeat content, Fark will shake your server. Plus there are dozens of aggregator sites such as PopURLS that also drive traffic based on your inclusion at the primary site.
If you’ve done a great job with your headline, it should magnetically draw people in. However, you need to understand the audience of each social media site. What works as a headline for Digg often won’t work for Reddit. Tweak accordingly, but try to retain your keywords in the title if at all possible, because most of the resulting links will simply regurgitate that title.
Another key element for success on Digg is the summary description, because many people will vote for content based soley on the headline and the brief copy that describes it. Sometimes this may simply be your existing opening paragraph, but you might craft a specialized description that best appeals to the culture of the site.
Submitting your own content to social media sites is looked down upon (at least with your real name), so it makes sense to have a friend submit for you. When specifically targeting a social news site, you want to control the headline and summary copy, because the exact same content submitted with poor headline and description copy may go absolutely nowhere.
2. Linking Out
Linking out to attract links? Yep.
Engaging in dialogue with the relevant blogs in your niche is a great way to get noticed, and it can lead to links back. Bloggers definitely watch who is linking to them thanks to Technorati, and you can take the initiative by linking out first before looking for one in return.
Simply linking out for the sake of linking won’t accomplish much, especially with bloggers who gets lots of links. The key is to be strategic about how you link and what your say.
It’s just like any other conversation. Join in and add your two cents, but make sure you’ve got something substantive to say that will reflect well on you. Use a great headline to make sure you are noticed, and then deliver the goods. And since your cornerstone content is the foundation of what the conversation is likely about, finding a way to mention it in the context of the dialogue will naturally bring it to the attention of influencers in your field.
3. Networking Emails
The days of flat out link begging are fading, but you can still reach out to other bloggers as a way to raise your own profile. Again, can you figure out what’s in it for them?
More than one-off link requests, networking via email and instant messaging is about establishing and growing relationships with others in the social media space. These are the linkerati—prominent bloggers in your niche, top Digg users, relevant web journalists, and influential web forum contributors.
Write your introductory emails from a copywriting perspective. Catch attention, gain interest, and create a desire to help you in the future by offering something that benefits them first.
4. Guest Posting
Another benefit of networking within your niche is that it creates opportunities to make a guest writing appearance. You can contribute content that not only allows you to raise your profile, but allows for links back to your own site. Once again, creating killer original content will open doors for you, especially when it’s created for the benefit of someone else. And you can use that killer cornerstone content you’ve already produced as an example of the quality you can deliver.
Depending on your relationship with the site owner, you may be able to link to your cornerstone content from within the body of the content itself, but only if the citation is extremely relevant to the content and beneficial to the reader. Otherwise, your link will need to appear in your byline.
Most people tend to link to their site or blog URL in the byline of contributed content. Turn it around by focusing the byline on the reader instead of yourself, and feature your cornerstone content instead of your home page.
For example, if I were to guest blog somewhere about strategies for attracting links, which byline is more attractive to the reader when finishing my article?
NO: Brian Clark writes about online copywriting at Copyblogger.
YES: Check out Brian Clark’s free SEO Copywriting 2.0 tutorial, which is all about the new style of online writing that helps your web site rank well in search engines.
Not only is that better for the reader, but it’s better for you. Your link contains keyword-rich anchor text that helps your cornerstone content rank higher.
5. Article Directories
At one point in time, submitting about 20 articles to a directory like Ezine Articles with the right anchor text would get you a really good ranking for some search terms, at least in Yahoo and MSN. However, because the engines discount duplicate content, having dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of sites republish your article (and linked byline) no longer does the trick by itself.
However, a site like Ezine Articles is still excellent for creating exposure to your cornerstone content. Having a link to your multi-part tutorial displayed on hundreds of web pages drives direct traffic, and can lead to your content being referenced in other posts and articles that do pass on link authority.
The strategy is much the same as with guest posting on a blog. Write original content that does not appear on your site, and submit to one or more reputable directories. Repeat until you get results.
The words you put on a web page have no life of their own until they get read. And those same words will not gain prominence in search engines until the words are linked to by relevant, authoritative sources.
Search engines can still be gamed, just like offline real-world systems can be exploited. However, the goals of the search engines are similar to society at large, and they are getting very good at finding rule breakers and dispensing punishment. Creating compelling content and beneficial relationships are strategies that won’t get you banned or penalized, and add value to your overall goal of converting site visits into revenue.
This is an excerpt from a free 28-page report called How to Create Content that Ranks Well in Search Engines. To get the whole story, head over to the SEO Copywriting Made Simple page to instantly download the full updated PDF.