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SEO Copywriting: Balancing Keywords and Readability

It's no secret that a business needs a strong online presence to be competitive.


But with so much competition, how can your website and online content stand out from all the noise? That’s where SEO copywriting comes in. Creating content that is appealing to search engines and your target audience is key.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I’ve been reviewing competitor websites for a client recently and was surprised to see some sites still written purely for SEO purposes. Locations, repeated keywords, and different spellings of brand names are crammed onto a single page, making it difficult to read and understand the content and messaging.


Don’t get me wrong - some sites are expertly written, balancing keyword optimisation with readable, engaging content. But I was surprised that some sites still stuff keywords onto a page. Is AI being used to write the content, or is it laziness?  Whatever the reason, it doesn’t help build brand authority or trust.

What is SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting involves crafting content to attract both search engines and human readers. It’s about carefully using keywords that help your content rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) while keeping a natural, engaging flow. Keyword stuffing, or overloading your content with keywords, can make it difficult to read, and you could be penalised by the search engines. 


SEO copywriting is about finding the right balance. Creating content that genuinely helps your readers while boosting your search rankings.

Researching and selecting keywords

Keywords are the foundation of SEO; they are the terms and phrases people use in search engines when looking for information, products, or services. However, the tricky part is using keywords effectively without compromising the quality of your writing.

SEO starts with thorough keyword research. Keyword tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Moz or Ahrefs can help you find relevant keywords. Think about user intent and what your audience is looking for when they search for your keywords. Is it information, a solution to a problem, or a specific product?


Ideally, you should look for a mix of primary and secondary keywords, variations or synonyms to avoid repetition, and long-tail keywords. These are longer, more specific phrases to help you target niche audiences.

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash 

Take, for example, a London plumbing company. “Plumber London” is a very broad and highly competitive keyword. Although it may get a lot of searches, it isn’t easy to rank for and doesn’t target a specific need or location. Here, conversion rates are likely to be low.


The long-tail keyword “emergency boiler repair service in North London” is more specific and targeted. It specifies the service with “boiler repair” instead of general plumbing. “Emergency” targets people with an immediate need, and “North London” narrows the location.


Using long-tail keywords allows you to target more specific audiences, face less competition in search rankings, and attract visitors more likely to be interested in your particular service or product. It can also lead to higher conversion rates.


Finally, Don’t forget to look at your competitors. See what keywords they’re ranking for, and what terms they’re paying to advertise and identify opportunities where you can outperform them.

Using keywords naturally

Keywords are important, but there’s no point in ranking high if people click away because your content is difficult to read or understand. 


Readability is central to user engagement and retention. When your content is easy to read and understand, visitors are more likely to stay on your site longer, explore other pages, and return to it in the future.


  • Use short sentences & paragraphs: People tend to skim through copy on a page, so breaking up your text will make scanning easier.

  • Write in the active voice: It’s more engaging and easier to understand.

  • Use subheadings: They help organise your content into bitesize sections, making it easier to digest.

  • Include bullet points and lists: They’re great for highlighting key information.

  • Avoid jargon: Stick to plain language unless your audience understands it, and ditch corporate guff.

Easy to read content improves the user experience (UX), which search engines increasingly consider in their ranking algorithms. Good readability can reduce bounce rates and increase dwell time. Search engines see this as an indication that your content is valuable and deserves a higher ranking. 

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Image by wal_172619 from Pixabay


Finding the right balance

Once you’ve identified your keywords and phrases, use them naturally in your content. This is where the magic happens. It’s about finding the right balance between SEO and readability.


Always write for humans first and search engines second. You need to provide value to your audience, so concentrate on writing helpful, informative, and engaging content. When you focus on creating high-quality content for your audience, the SEO benefits often follow naturally.


Strategically use keywords throughout your content. Place the primary keyword in the title and first paragraph to signal the topic to search engines. Then, naturally, sprinkle your keyword and related terms throughout the text. But remember, don’t force the keywords; they must fit naturally. If they sound awkward, they probably are.


Don’t forget your meta descriptions. These short snippets appear in search results and can impact your click through rates. So make them clear and compelling, and include your target keyword if possible.


Use header tags (H1, H2, H3) to organise your content effectively. These help structure your content for your audience and search engines. Try to include keywords in your headers, but only when they make sense; don’t force them in. Always prioritise clarity and readability over keyword placement.


Finally, remember the power of linking. Use internal links to connect your content to other relevant pages on your site and include external links to authoritative sources when appropriate. This will help your SEO and make the content more readable by providing extra information for the reader.

Tools to help you improve readability

Balancing SEO and readability can be tricky, but there are plenty of tools to help you take the guesswork out of what you’re doing.


  • Yoast SEO: If you have a WordPress site, this plugin is definitely worth purchasing. It gives you real-time feedback on your content’s SEO and readability.


  • Hemmingway: I often use this for my content and SEO writing. It helps simplify your writing by highlighting complex or long sentences and suggesting simpler alternatives.


  • Grammarly: This is my go-to tool when I want to double-check my copy. It reviews grammar, punctuation, and style and identifies important spelling mistakes that can hurt credibility.


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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Testing and iterating

Like any skill, SEO copywriting takes practice, testing, and refinement. Monitor your metrics to see how your content is performing and what's working, or not. For example, if you see a high bounce rate on a particular page or post, it could be that the content isn't engaging enough or your keywords don't match the user intent. Now's the time to make adjustments to your SEO and readability.


Writing B2B quality content by balancing keywords

Balancing keyword optimisation and readability is about creating content that ranks well and resonates with your audience. You can craft content that satisfies both search engines and readers by conducting thorough keyword research, using keywords naturally and writing for humans first.  


So, next time you sit down to write a web page, blog post, or other piece of content, keep these tips in mind. They'll help you to create SEO-friendly and reader-friendly content that drives traffic, engages your audience, and builds authority and trust.

Do you need help creating authentic content that appeals to both your human audience and search engines? I’m a qualified SEO content writer and copywriter and know how to strike the perfect balance between keywords and engaging copy, so get in touch and let’s talk; I’m here to help.




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