Write to Sell – 14 Practical Copywriting Tips for SEO and Inbound Marketing

Woman searching online for solutionsI’m reading The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly, which dove tails nicely with my preparation for a workshop, How to Create Content that will Generate Online Leads. Copywriting isn’t something new and the internet hasn’t changed the fundamental principles.

I think these two statements from the book sum up what the internet has changed and what it hasn’t changed:

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  • “The internet has revolutionized marketing because of its speed, accessibility, ease and low cost…”
  • “The more important point is that the Internet has not changed human nature, nor does people’s buying psychology change simply because they are reading your message offline instead of online.”

From an SEO perspective, we talk a lot about how important content is when it comes to increasing the chances of your web page showing up in natural search results. But that’s really one of the least important reasons to write content.

Who cares if you get traffic from natural search if it doesn’t generate leads or more importantly revenue? 

SEO copywriting shouldn’t be focused only on getting found by search engines, it should also be focused on writing to sell.

Creating Content:

  • Gives People a reason to visit your website and/or blog
  • Gives you something to talk about on social networks
  • Helps people understand how you’re different
  • Creates relationships that turn readers into customers and promoters
  • Gives Search engines a reason to visit (crawl and index) your website and/or blog

I’ve read hundreds of articles on how to write good blog posts, create compelling landing pages, etc. and they all emphasized the importance of a headline. The Copywriter’s Handbook gave me a whole new perspective on how to think about writing headlines.

I’d never really thought about the headline having a function other than to capture someone’s attention, it turns out there are actually four functions that a headline can have:

4 Functions of the Headline

  1. Get Attention-Appeal to the reader’s self interest – caring for kids, popularity, lose weight, make more money, etc.
  2. Select the Audience-Include audience specifics such as, “Small Business Owners Looking For…” or “Ten Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill,” so the right audience might read the information and unqualified prospected are self screened out.
  3. Deliver a Complete Message-Example: “Caught Soon Enough, Early Tooth Decay Can Actually be Repaired by Colgate!” Colgate Toothpaste
  4. Draw the Reader into Body Copy-Compel the reader to read the article. Pique their interest with humor, ask a question, or make a promise to deliver valuable information.

There is also a useful formula when it comes to evaluating how effective a headline is likely to be:

4 U’s Formula for Effective Headlines

  1. Urgent – gives a reason to act now
  2. Unique – Say something in a new or different way
  3. Ultra-specific – teasers to draw the reader in (Best Time to ______, 3 Foods That Will_______)
  4. Useful – appeal to the reader’s needs

The goal is to create a headline that meets at least two, and preferably three of these criteria; Bly recommends that you write and re-write your headline until it does.

14 Copywriting Tips

  1. Write for people first and search engines second
  2. Think behavior (motivation) when doing keyword research and while writing
  3. Spend time crafting your headline
  4. Strategically include keywords in the important page elements
  5. Include links to references and valuable relevant resources
  6. Write for power skimmers (keep it simple, use bulleted and numbered lists & short sentences)
  7. Include pictures
  8. Include numbers when you can (21 ways, top 10, 18 ways)
  9. Use compelling words (free, efficient, exclusive, dependable, feature-rich, etc.)
  10. Incorporate quotes
  11. Use bold and italic
  12. Be honest
  13. Remember the call to action
  14. Write content for each phase of the purchase cycle

Here are a couple other great resources for copywriting tips:


Share your favorite copywriting tips in the comments below. What is your formula for success?

Check out our SEO copywriting services here.

  • It was a very handy article.
    Thanks for this.
    I read that social media is getting more and more important for SEO, and that the more fans and followers you have on accounts linked to your website, the
    higher you rank in google. Is that true?

  • Thanks so much for stopping by to read my article and taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you found the article helpful.

    There is a lot of debate around the topic of social signals and SEO. I personally believe that there is a growing correlation between social signals and SEO. however, having a high number of followers/fans isn’t going to get you ranked higher in Google.

    Even without thinking about social, there are over 200 factors that are taken into consideration when it comes to how/if a site is displayed in search engine results page.

    From a social network standpoint, it’s more important to be genuine, engaged, and add good value.

    Hope that helps.