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How to Optimize Copy When You Can't Use Keywords

August 24, 2011
By © 2011, All Rights Reserved

What's the first thing you think of when writing with keywords? Probably one of the first is that keywords and phrases are descriptive of the products and/or services you're writing about. But what happens in those circumstances where you can't (or don't really want to) use your chosen keyphrases descriptively?

Is Your Product or Service Really Cheap?
Photo Credit: Gerry Dincher
One of the primary causes of this dilemma is the word "cheap." There's a big difference between somebody typing "cheap travel insurance" into a search engine query field and you calling your own insurance cheap. Nobody really wants "cheap" insurance. That brings up images of companies that go out of business, don't return calls, fight you on paying claims, etc.

What customers want is "inexpensive" or "affordable" insurance. Problem is, in their haste, they type in the first thing that comes to mind. Average Joe doesn't understand that search engines are (in part) matching the words in their query to words on the web pages. "Cheap travel insurance" may be the keyphrase you want and need to target, but you certainly don't want to label your own product "cheap." What can you do?

Use that search term with the opposite meaning.

Perhaps your copy could read something like this:
Affordable? Budget-friendly? Absolutely! But this is certainly not cheap travel insurance. Coverage is underwritten by one of the most trusted and well-respected companies. With this policy, you'll find benefits comparable to more expensive coverage, but with rates at or below what the cheap travel insurance companies charge.

See the difference? Instead of writing, "We sell cheap travel insurance," and degrading your product in the eyes of your customer, you actually use the search term to elevate your product to a higher level of quality.

Legalities That Get in the Way

Another issue with many keyphrases is that they violate government regulations if used to describe a product. You find this often with health supplements. The FDA (and other such agencies around the world) has a long list of what manufacturers can and cannot say with regard to their products. This is mainly an effort to protect the consumer against snake-oil salesmen who make fraudulent claims.

For instance, you cannot call your supplement a cure. In many countries you can't even call your product a remedy. And so you face the issue with those ever-popular search terms that include "remedy" and other such words.

One of my favorite techniques is to ask questions that incorporate these keywords.

You can't legally say, "Here's a new heartburn remedy we've just released." But you can ask questions like:

Tired of that same old heartburn remedy that doesn't work? Wish someone would create something new?

Looking for a heartburn remedy that doesn't require a prescription?

Is your heartburn remedy falling short?

You're not saying your product is a heartburn remedy; you're just asking questions about what the customer might want or need. [Jill's caveat: Double-check with your own attorney to be sure you're not falling afoul of any of your own state or country laws.]

When you're writing with keywords, you really have to think outside the box. We typically have tunnel vision when we write SEO copy, inserting the keywords the same way over and over. But there are so many different methods (like the two listed above) for using search terms when you write.

If you diversify your SEO writing skills, you'll find your copy becomes more natural-sounding and is able to communicate your message better. Why stick to just one ordinary way to write with keywords when there are so many to choose from?

Karon Thackston is author of Writing With Keywords, Karon Thackstonwhich gives you 11 clever ways to use keywords in your SEO copy. Stop struggling to make keywords fit. Do it the easy way with these 11 proven techniques for writing naturally with keywords.

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Post Comment

 John Tully said:
Awesome! Now I know why I subscribe to both Jill's AND Karon's newsletters!!
 Mary Kay Lofurno said:
Nice article..well done, definitely one for the delicious account
 Karon Thackston said:
Thank you John and Mary Kay. Glad you found it helpful.
Great article! Keep up the fantastic work Karon!
 Aivil Vin said:
Really impressed by the way you use the keywords. Glad i found your article. Thanks for the crucial guidance!!