Note: The following is part of our company's internal operations/job manual. This is from the section providing guidelines for writing optimized text.
Optimized Text (OT) is first and foremost marketing copy for the website. Each optimized page must be written with the client's products or services in mind. They are not general information pages, but pages designed to provide the visitor with the information they seek which compels them to take the desired action.
Most clients provide some initial verbiage for OT pages as a starting point. This information can help us better understand the client's perspective on their products or services and therefore should be an excellent resource for the text. Clients also provide answers to written questions pertaining to their website, business, marketing perspectives, etc. This information should be considered during the writing process for all OT pages.
OT pages are driven by keywords. The "core term" of each OT page must be established before any writing can be done. Once the core term is known the writer must then also know the supporting phrases. A single core term can have anywhere from one to hundreds of supporting phrases. Each core term will also have a handful of other related words. It is important for core, supporting and related words be carefully considered before optimizing a page.
Core terms are the most important terms on each page and should be used as a phrase as often as good, readable copy allows.
Supporting phrases can be used liberally within the framework of producing quality content. Each optimized page should focus on no more than fifteen supporting phrases. Supporting phrases do not need to always be kept in phrase format, but each individual word of each phrase used must be present in the copy a number of times.
Related words are words and phrases symmetrically related to the core term. Related words are: stemmed variations of the core term (running and ran are related to core term run); words with similar meaning as the core term (jog, walk, hike, stroll); words most often used in conjunction with the core terms (shoes, fast, sweat, exercise, hide, hydrate, etc). Not all related words will be relevant for a particular page. Writer should pick and choose related words to be used within the proper context.
While keywords must be considered and used on the OT page, the ability to produce content with a natural style of writing and a focus on the marketing goals trumps all else. Each OT page must have a clear sales message that entices the visitor to continue reading offering easy click-access deeper into the site and ultimately into the final conversion.
OT should use customer focused language which speaks to them. Page should be less about "we" or "us" and more about showing them they have found the solutions to their current needs. Questions should be anticipated and answered.
Sales Message: The writer must research both the company and the product or services being sold. It is imperative that each OT page be able to obtain the readers interest and provide enough information to help users make an informed decision. It's not enough to outline a list of features; both features and benefits must be used as part of the sales verbiage. OT page should be written for best skim- and scan-ability. Use of bullet points, paragraph headings, bolds and italics (where appropriate) is encouraged.
Headings: Page and paragraph headings should be used wherever appropriate. Every page must have a page heading which succinctly tells the reader what they will find on the page. Page headings are matter-of-fact and will almost always use the core term. (Expert PC Repair and Computer Networking Solutions)
Paragraph, or section, headings should be used only as appropriate. Often a paragraph heading can be used below the page heading similar to a newspaper sub-headline (Reno based computer expert offers networking and repair solutions throughout the greater Reno and Northern California area). If the content can be naturally divided into sections then paragraph headings should be used and written similar to page headings.
Bullet Points: Bullet points can be used for outlining benefits (or features) of the product or service being offered. Bullets help break up a redundant text page while making skimming and scanning easier.
Bolds and Italics: Bolds and italics should be used infrequently and only in ways which help the overall readability of the page. Skim- and scan-ability can be improved with selective bold and italic usage of important information.
Internal Hyperlinks: Each OT page should contain a number of internal hyperlinks. Linked text should be relevant and link to other portions of the website being referenced. Links to 'about us', 'contact us', and products/service pages can be used liberally, as good writing and usability allows.
Calls to Action: Each OT page should not be an end unto itself but should be a mechanism to propel the reader onto the next page. Hyper links mentioned above are calls to action of sorts as they propel the reader to pages with more information, but the ultimate call to action is one that directs the reader to the conversion. No page should be without the conversion call to action.
Titles and Descriptions
Each OT must have both a title and description (for HTML title and meta description tags) which is separate from the visible body content. Titles and descriptions are most often seen in search engine results and therefore must let the searcher know that this OT page contains the information they are searching for and compel them to click to this page over the other pages in the search results.
Titles: The title is the clickable link found on a search results page. The title much simultaneously inform the visitor of the content of the page, prove that the page has the information the searcher was seeking (keyword usage), and provide enough compelling information to make the searcher want to click through. Titles should never be deceptive or provide information that is not found in the body content of the page. A page title should be 8-12 words in length.Descriptions: Descriptions are often used in the search results below the clickable title. The description should provide additional relevant information that could not fit into the title. Both core and supporting keywords, along with a few related keywords should be used in the description, giving the searcher as much information as possible in a very short and succinct paragraph. Description should be 30-50 words in length.