For all the companies that are looking for “SEO copywriters,” you’d think it’s a super-specialized field. But the truth is, any copywriter worth their fees is an SEO copywriter—and most people looking for SEO copywriters have no idea what they’re actually asking for. Read on for the full truth about so-called SEO copywriting…
Today’s question comes from Owen J., who asks, “I keep seeing job listings for SEO copywriting. What makes it different from regular copywriting?”
Well, despite all of the show about differentiating it from “regular copywriting,” what separates SEO copywriting is…very little. So little, in fact, that it may be a tell that companies who are asking for “SEO copywriters” don’t really know what they’re asking for.
Let’s back up a little bit. When you run a search on a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo, the search engine goes out into the internet, looks for pages that are relevant to the keywords you used in your search and serves up the best ones for you on the search results page.
Right now, the criteria, the algorithms, that the search engines use to determine how good these results are very sophisticated. So sophisticated, in fact, that no one outside of the search engine companies themselves, really understands how they work. But back when search engines were first being used, their criteria wasn’t quite as sophisticated.
One of the major criteria (again, quite a while ago) was how many times a keyword and/or words similar to it were used on a page. As you can imagine, what that meant was that people tried to game the system by cramming in keywords into sentences as many times as they could. Think: “When it comes to optimizing for keywords and words that are important to searches, people would put as many keywords and important words in sentences so that keywords would be prevalent throughout a page and search engines looking for these keywords would find the keywords many times.”
But now, search engines are much savvier than that. (In fact, packing in keywords like that can even cause a search engine to penalize a site.) The trick to SEO nowadays? There is no trick—you can’t game the system. Search engines are looking for pages that are relevant to searches and useful to the searcher.
So, aside from a few webmaster tasks like adding meta tags (which aren’t your responsibility, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little search so you understand them), the best thing you can do as a copywriter is to make your copy beneficial to the reader. Which is…yeah, what copywriting is all about anyway.
So the truth about SEO copywriting…is that there’s no such thing as SEO copywriting.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to keywords; you should use them in a natural way throughout your copy. If you’re writing a web page about how a company delivers digital backup services for data, you should naturally be using words like “digital backup”, “backup services” and “data backup” in your copy. You can also pop over to Google’s keyword tool (just Google “Google keyword tool”) and you can also get suggestions for other keywords that are similar and might be worth including in your copy.
But the key to being an “SEO copywriter” today? Be a good copywriter. Write about the benefits to consumer and use words that the consumer would use. It certainly won’t hurt you to do a search and watch a few videos about how webmasters can use HTML to help search engines find a page, but the truth about being an “SEO copywriter” is simple. Be a good copywriter, use your skills, and you’re automatically an SEO copywriter.
Your turn! Have you done any “SEO copywriting” in your career? What have your clients expected? Let us know in the comments below!