Question: What type of fool helps the competition with free advice and backlinks?
Answer: This type of fool.
This is the follow-up to the UK freelance copywriter homepages post. This time round, we’re dabbling in SEO in an effort to see:
- The words copywriters use in their page titles
- The words copywriters use in their descriptions
- Any correlation between rankings and page titles
We’re not talking links and social media presence. We’re looking at the basics.
(Note: I’m aware that to some copywriters the term SEO means Silly Effing Ollocks, or suchlike. However, for the purposes of this study, just think of it as search-friendliness. Or, if you prefer, search-cuddliness.)
So, why focus on page titles?
Page titles are the words that appear at the very top of your browser screen. Titles are also used as the main link text in search engine results pages.
Your title tells the search engines (and the user) what your page is about – much like a chapter heading. Or, in the case of your homepage, the whole book title.
As far as search engine optimisation goes, titles are still one of the most powerful on-page factors that you can control. In short, page titles matter.
Once again, the study looks at 258 copywriter sites.
Words in titles: the stats…
Length of titles
You can ramble on forever in your page title if you wish. However, Google and chums will cut you off at a certain point. Beyond that point, people won’t see it. And, in an effort to avoid copious page title spam, Google puts more weight on the earliest words in the title.
Yet, many copywriters have titles far longer than that – the longest being a whopping 442 characters. Happily, the average was 58 characters. But remember:
Length of descriptions
First off: keywords in descriptions won’t get you higher in the search rankings.
But, you’re writers, so you’ll understand this: The right words will encourage people to click on your listing in the search results. After all, it’s like a short ad for your services.
Again, you only have so much space to demonstrate your linguistic brilliance.
Many copywriters had significantly more than 160 characters. The longest was 1529 characters (phew). The average was a very sensible 167.
Let’s play with Wordle…
Here are the words copywriters use in their page titles – with all common English words removed. This is much as expected, with the emphasis on copy:
Now with all copy-related words + common words removed:
The locations used in titles:
Location-based SEO is a very useful thing. For starters, you’re covering more keywords and may attract more relevant searches. Predictably, UK was the most popular location reference, followed by London and Brighton (which backs up my previous post featuring copywriter locations).
Other services (related to copywriting):
Here’s what else I take away from this:
Copywriters who offer “SEO” or “web” writing services are more likely to be familiar with basic SEO techniques. Therefore the terms “SEO” and “Web” may be disproportionate to the amount of copywriter sites included. SEO samurai know how to give their title words the most prominence, after all. (Of course, SEO is also a very common copywriter secondary service.)
Now let’s talk about rankings…
Search ranking is not the One Ring to Rule Them All. It may not even be the Shirt of Elvish Mithril. However, ranking can make that tricky trip to Mordor just a tad easier. Make sense?
Lots of different factors influence search rankings – in particular the amount and quality of external links you have directed at your site. However, basic SEO starts with on-page factors including page titles. With this in mind, let’s look at rankings.
How were results calculated?
I searched the terms copywriter, copywriter uk and freelance copywriter in Google.co.uk
All were searched without quotation marks. In the case of the two-word phrases, the term had to be present in the title or description either broken or unbroken.
Note: Rankings correct @ 5th April 2010
The SEO people will tell you that keywords in descriptions don’t affect rankings. However, there’s a clear correlation between good descriptions and high rankings. Again, I think this is more likely because high-ranking sites usually have a bit of SEO savvy behind them (so the site owners are more likely to complete the meta description tag).
My personal opinion on the title and high ranking correlation is that it’s still hard to rank for a relatively competitive term without including that term in your page title.
Some easy SEO advice to take away from all this? Sort your titles out first. Think services, location and how likely someone is to search for a particular word. As for the rest of the results of this analysis…if you have any thoughts, please share them below.
So, this post took a lot of effort to put together. Please retweet! All comments gratefully appreciated – and all links received with a frisson of joy.
(As an aside, Nick appears to be the most prominent copywriter name. Any Nicks care to comment?)