Body copy is the textual content of a web page. Body copy refers to text visible to users, not including graphical content, navigation, or information hidden in the HTML source code. The most important thing to keep in mind while creating content is to write for your audience rather than for Google, Bing, or Yahoo. You have specific goals for your website. You want your prospects to buy something from you, or think of you as a thought leader (so they trust you and purchase your product or service), or engage with you, or read your content and think you are: cool, smart, knowledgeable, etc. Even if you’re a publisher selling advertising on your site, you want your readers to appreciate the content enough that they will read it and visit more pages.
In every one of these cases, you’ll be more successful if you create high-quality content for your audience. Bringing random traffic to your site will not accomplish your goals. You want to bring the right prospects who will be happy with the content you are sharing with them. If your prospects find your content valuable, they will be more likely to convert, link to it, and share it with their social networks.
Best Practices for Writing Body Copy
- Include the keyword in your copy.
- If a prospect is coming to a page on your website from a search engine, they expect to see the words they searched for on in the page. You want to use each keyword phrase three or four times within your copy – more if it makes sense and still sounds natural.
- Don't "over-do" it.
- You are writing for real people, not search engines. You want your writing to sound natural. If your text sounds awkward to you, reduce your keyword usage or use synonyms.
- Use the exact search term.
- Search engines are very good at interpreting a searcher’s intent, but they still rank pages that exactly match a searcher’s query higher than a page that has all the words in a different order. Your keyword research told you how your customers think and the words they use including the order in which they use words. Take advantage of this research, and write your content accordingly.
- As an example, 'symptoms of diabetes' is not the same as 'diabetes symptoms', and returns different rankings. MayoClinic.com did not rank in the top three for “symptoms of diabetes.” They instead optimized for “diabetes symptoms" probably because this was the precise term much of their audience was using. Every other factor remains the same, but because the word order matches the search query, they were able to bump WebMD and About.com down and take the number two spot on a query that gets 673,000 searches each month. The increased ranking for this one term brings MayoClinic.com an estimated 40,000 additional highly-qualified prospects each month that would otherwise go to one of their competitors.
- Don't over-optimize.
- People may not consciously know what’s wrong with your page, but if you use the same words in the same order too many times, your prospects will feel like something isn’t right. This requires a balancing act, but you want to make sure that you use natural language to communicate your message (synonyms, varying word order, etc.).
- Use the exact term throughout the body copy when appropriate, but if a different term makes more sense when you're writing the body copy, use it. Never sacrifice the user experience to force your copy to meet a SEO goal.
- Consider the page length.
- Page length should be dictated by the message you want to communicate, not an arbitrary limit. A minimum of 300 words is a good target. Longer copy provides a better opportunity for keyword placement that sounds good and allows you to provide more information to your prospects.